Marbella or Sitges?

Hi all,

Can anyone advise a better place to move to in Spain?

I am currently thinking about Marbella and Sitges.

What I am looking for:
great beach, nature around
quiet neighborhood full of greenery and cleanliness
close to the center where there is enough of shopping, bars, restaurants, people possibilities
close to the airport
possibilities to play golf
I enjoy nice architecture
I do enjoy some fancy shopping and dining

How would you compare the two and which one would you recommend (based on what?)
How do the two towns compare and contrast?

Note: I do speak fluent Spanish, I am looking for moving permanently
I am a single guy and will live alone.

Thank you!

In June 2021, I went to Costa Del Sol for 3.5 weeks, to view properties I had researched and to make a purchase.  I stayed for 1 week in Malaga, 1 week in Marbella, and 1 week in Sotogrande.  I ended up buying a condo for myself at Higueron West in Fuengirola, and a condo for my elderly mother in San Pedro de Alcantara.

I have never visited Sitges.  I can tell you that San Pedro (Marbella) is a wonderful town.  The beach is beautiful, the boardwalk is beautiful, and the many restaurants along the boardwalk are wonderful.  There's plenty of shopping downtown, and you are not too far from Mercadona and El Corte Ingles.  Here's a video that will give you a great idea of what's around central San Pedro... it will show you how far key things are.

For myself, I chose Fuengirola only because that's where Higueron West is... and it is a self-contained lifestyle for me, where every day is like a luxury resort vacation.  The beach there is a bit too crowded for my taste, but my facility does have a private beach club, so that solves the problem.  For my elderly mother, I chose San Pedro because it is flat (not on a hill), the middle of the city, and everything is easily accessible - only a few blocks away (no car needed... just a few short taxi rides).

Although I fell in love with the Pier2 condo, I did not choose Sotogrande because it was always windy, it had fewer people (a bit deserted), and local stores shut down during the off-season.

I hope this helps... feel free to message me if more questions.

Great video, thanks for sharing.

Definitely Sitges. Beautiful town that is "Spanish", not a massive resort area full or overloaded with Brits. Germans etc., though we are here in number, and all the bars and restaurants are Spanish. Catalonia is the best area in the world for excellent restaurants in abundance ranging from your  restaurant and bar that do great local dishes throughout the week and packed Sundays for lunch with all classes of person, to the Ramsay and Le Blanc type of establishments  with great chefs serving incredible food at half the price and less of the aforementioned . The beaches at Sitges and resorts going down the coast to Tarragona are fantastic. Barcelona Airport 20 mins. and Barcelona City centre 10 minutes more. Sitges great for boutiques as are Villanova, next place south down the coast, and Vilafranca just inland 15 minutes.

Thanks @jdfish for the info on Sitges!  We're looking to move from inland ndalusia to somewhere within a few hours drive of Girona. Just need to find somewhere affordable to rent/buy!  Sitges sounds promising!

I just got back from Spain . I am thinking of moving there from US next year when I retire. I speak Spanish fluently but have friends in southern France and would like to be close by. I was thinking of settling in area of Begur in Catalonia but my concern is that it is too far from Barcelona ( doctors visits, shopping, airport etc). and too dead off-season I have relatives ( Spanish but lived forever in US) who live near Malaga and Marbella and it just feels too built up and too many foreigners. Nothing against some ex pats, but don't want to be around only those who don't speak any Spanish. Someone suggested Sitges and I am going to check it out on my next trip. How is it in winter or off season?

If you go slightly inland from the coast, you'll find plenty of areas where virtually no one speaks English. We're 90 mins drive/45 on the train from Malaga and iterally only a handful of people speak English!  It's only the coastal areas that are overwhelmingly English 'occupied! Even in Malaga, it's predominantly Spanish that is spoken - as it should be!!

Rich people's problems, eh? :-)

Both very nice, you would not suffer in either.

Personally, I'm a big fan of Barcelona, so being close would be good. But Marbella has many fans too.

However, why only these two? There are several potential places around Malaga Airport (including Malaga itself), not just Marbella. Ditto, Barcelona, which has much more to offer than merely Sitges. (I like Cambrils, Tarragona, Blanes/Lloret de Mar, and even Barceloneta is acceptable as I enjoy being in Barcelona proper).

And that's without considering the other busy coastal airports in Alicante, Valencia, Palma, Ibiza, Gran Canaria, Tenerife... all with lots of nice places around. You're spoilt for choice, basically. :-)

I'm tempted to say that airport + town + beach + golf puts about 50% of the country's coastline in play. :-) Although, sure, if you only want resorts of the rich and famous, then that's a significantly smaller (but still quite a bit more than 2) list.

We personally don't like hanging out in the resorts, which tend to be very touristy, and often rather expensive. Thanks to a fortuitous Ebay purchase, we ended up inland (15km, it's nothing really) in Elche. This is a proper Spanish city (population over 200,000, so it's got all amenities) with few expats, so I can flash my Spanish whenever I want. Yet the airport (it's actually Alicante-Elche Airport) is only a few minutes away. As are the lovely beaches at La Marina and Arenals de Sol, and Alicante proper. As we've got well-off Spanish neighbours (500k euros apartments and multi-million euros houses) across the street, I don't feel like we're slumming it.

I recently moved to Sitges from Dallas, Texas.
Prior to moving here, I checked out some beach towns in Portugal, namely the Algarve. At that point in time, COVID hit the world so I couldn't continue my search in Portugal…I continued research on the computer and a friend suggested Spain… I looked in Spain and Southern Spain, I made the decision I didn't want to be in a climate of heat as in Southern Portugal and Southern Spain , so I searched more north…. And found what I wanted….perfect climate not too cold in winter, not too hot in summer….Boardwalk to run/walk, wonderful Mediterranean Sea, great food, shops, wine, economically feasible for me, way less expensive than Dallas.  The rest is history…visited last May…moved here a month ago….Loving it!  Single guy, retired from the Federal Aviation Administration….Sitges is where I want to stay!

Costa Blanca .... beaucoup mieux pour le climat

Lysore wrote:

Costa Blanca .... beaucoup mieux pour le climat

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Having spent a lot of time in both, I would definitely choose Sitges, but it depends a lot on personal choice. For me it just seems a lot more calm and civilised, and I have to say that I trust the locals a little bit more, and my fellow British expats a whole load more, than their counterparts down south. Plus, although it's a small town, it punches above its weight in terms of supporting newcomers, with sites like Sitges for English Speakers and various very helpful Facebook groups. In short, for a party I might choose Marbella but for doing serious stuff like living, buying property, raising kids etc I would definitely choose the Sitges area