Gay Married Couple Moving to Malaga, Valencia or Barcelona

Hello All-

My husband and I are currently from Phoenix, AZ, USA and are thinking of moving to Spain.
Malaga, Valencia, and Barcelona are on the list. I won't rule any place out until we visit, but Valencia and Malaga seem they are more suited for us
So here's what we prefer:
Excellent healthcare (we are 64 and 63)
The cost of living is subjective to different people but prefers somewhere where housing won't break the bank.
An urban atmosphere where we can walk, or hop on a train to get groceries, pharmacies, restaurants, bars, etc. We don't plan on having a car. Culture is a plus.
Community - Has a nice sized gay or gay-friendly community, ex-pats and locals with who we could make friends easily.  Friends are essential as we will have no family in Europe.
We are doing our best to learn Spanish before we make the final decision to move, but also would like to live where English is also spoken.
We are not beach people but love the water views. For example, we get bored just sitting on the beach, unless we have good sights to see. :-) 
Any insight into these cities would be greatly appreciated.

Last month, I received my visa and will be moving to Santander in July. The application process was smooth but it did take time to pull all the documents together.

I can talk about Valencia as it was on my short list. I've been to Barcelona many times and can talk about that. While I've visited Malaga I've only been there twice and for short visits.

You'll need to visit each before deciding. I spent two months in Valencia last Fall and two months in Santander this past Spring before deciding on Santander. This was after several shorter visits. I finally decided on Santander as it fit what I wanted my life to be better. You didn't include it, but proximity to the rest of Europe was important to me as I enjoy traveling. I am looking for more of a home base between months of traveling. I also wanted cooler weather in the summer and fall. English speakers and expats are not as common in Santander but neither were a need for me.

Regarding housing, Barcelona will be far more expensive. It will also be more congested. But it will have a more active gay life and entertainment options. You'll also have access to trains or planes that will get you to any other city in Europe very easily (if that is a desire). Sitges is one of my favorite places as it is 20 minutes by train or bus from Barcelona. It is a former fishing village turned holiday destination that is very gay friendly. English speakers, expats, and professionals (lawyers, immigration attorneys, etc providing support) will be easy to find.

Valencia will be considerably less expensive and feel more like a town than the large sprawling Barcelona. It is easy to get around by bus or train and I love the beaches there. There is a popular gay beach area that is also clothing optional just south of the city. It was on my short list because it is smaller and less crazy with noise and hustle. There is a high-speed train that gets you to Madrid in one and a half hours. Gay life is very present. I love the museums, parks, and bike path in Túria (a large river bed converted into an urban park.) It is half the size of Phoenix and doesn't have near the spread. Once you leave the city you'll be in farmland with small dots of villages around. A lot of Brits and German expats are just south of Valencia along the coast from Benidorm to Javea.

Malaga is even smaller than Valencia and I can't speak much about what it is like as I've only visited twice for short periods. I know there are ample expats, especially Brits.

Regarding health care, you'll find that in all the cities you mentioned. As an immigrant, I had to buy private insurance as Spain requires this. It cost me about $150 a month but covers everything and has no co-pay.

I suggest you flesh out your list of must-have, wants, and don't wants more. What sports or other physical activities do you enjoy? What are your hobbies/interests that you will want supported? Then plan on spending at least a month in each place exploring and discovering.

They took out the link to weatherspark that compares climates so I suggest you use the weatherspark site to do the comparison. I really like this for travel planning as the history they use seems to be better than many other climate forecast sites. You'll first put in a city then go to the top of the page and find the "Compare" button. That will allow you to put in up to five cities.

But for travel planning you can drill down to typical weather for month or even a specific day by using the controls on the right.

As you can see, travel is one of my passions that has driven my decision to move to Spain. In a half day, I can go from Santander to Paris via train. And from there, anywhere else in Europe.
Thank you so much for your reply! I hope you are enjoying Santander.
I saw your comment on another post. I am getting everything together for my move to Spai. And was wondering if you wouldnt mind telling me what health insurance plan you purchased a d wjat yoy think about it so far.
Just thought I would jump in. I too am looking to move to Spain. I agree with Tom's information on the cities.

To add a little more on Malaga. It is by far the smallest of your listed towns. It does have an airport, which is nice. Not a big gay presence in town, but, Torremolinos, which is about 20 minutes outside of Malaga, is huge for gay life. The host one of the largest gay pride events in Europe each year as well. Malage itself is gay friendly. The best location really depends on what you want exactly. You have a big mix of cities on your list. As a whole, spain is very gay friendly.
@JT Dark

Thank you, JT!
I put another city into the equation.

I want to check out Alicante.  Has anyone been there? What can you tell me about it?

Thank you,


Hi, sorry to bother you but I noted the comment/ quote you made regarding private health insurance.
Can you provide details regarding the provider as a number of quotes I have received from various insurance companies quote ridiculous monthly figures.



@tomwins hello Tom I just wanted to ask, although it might seem impolite for which I can only apologise in advance, what age are you and what sort of visa did you apply for under which nationality? We are 2 Australian citizens aged 62 (today) and 58 and have a house in Normandy and our apartment in Australia and although it might sound we are financially comfortable, we are not and might have to sell in Australia to be able to make the move to Spain so I'd really appreciate it if you could share your visa application experience and whether you might have any additional advice or tips or suggestions as we are very keen on moving to Spain, many thanks!

@markegoldstein Hi Mark,
I have no experience of Malaga, so can't comment on that. From what you say, Valencia would suit your requirements very well. It's a flat city, so is  easy on the legs, but you can get to the mountains in an hour and a half for skiing in the winter if that is your thing. Being on the coast does make it humid in the summer, which can be very hot and moist, but the winters are much nicer. Locals think the winters are cold, but I think they are quite mild for the most part.

There are a lot of LGBTQ people here, but not a huge "scene" as such because it doesn't seem to be needed. People just mix and mingle as they want with everyone else. It's well worth coming here to have a look around. It's a beautiful city with amazing architecture and there are a lot of cultural events.

Property prices in the city are going up and people do feel that incoming people are accelerating that and pricing local people out. Apartments in the city can be very noisy as sound insulation is poor and neighbours are loud. Move out slightly, and you get nice houses with a lot more space and privacy, but still connected to the Metro. Move out further still into the urbanizations, and you get villas with pools. Be prepared for whatever price you see to end up costing you 20% more than you thought.

Mike Harmon
Hi I agree that you should perhaps look into Alicante.
I have nothing against Malaga, Valencia or Barcelona per se but feel Alicante has that small town feel to a large city.
The airport is intercontinental.
The bus system is very good and there are trains to most destinations including the new Fast train to Madrid.
There are lots of opportunities to acquire property overlooking the harbour and sea and between Valencia and Alicante many smaller towns with harbours also with stunning views availabl.
Of course there are beaches galore and more than a few are clothing optional [I can supply a list of a few as they are my favourite.

As said, the standard of living is comparatively cheap, though it gets cheaper further inland and there are again quite a few communities with sea views 2-5Km inland.

AVOID Benidorm.
Its an English Ghetto [I am English and appalled by the behaviour of my countrymen there - so embarrassed - and yes, the Spanish do look at you when you say I'm English and you can see them thinking Benidorm].

I would advise renting first.
Its not expensive and will allow you a chance to settle in and discover the options available.

Most areas have good Gay communities with associated bars and beaches.

I live inland, half way up a mountain, with stunning views but where I live a car is essential.
My Cortijo [Almond Farmhouse] is 5 bedrooms on 5 acres and cost a modest amount.
Unfortunately prices are higher on the coast, so you might want to consider a decent size community inland, with good bus/rail links with a local gay community.
Or buy/rent a car lol

If there is anything specific that you need answering, just ask, we are all here to help.



Hello Max,

Thank you so much for your response.
Are you from Alicante? I saw a listing for an apartment in a neighborhood called Benalua. Are you familiar with it?
Is it accessible to grocery shopping, banks, pharmacies, other shopping, beach, and transportation?



Mark-Read your post.  After 4 years in Marbella my husband and I (gay couple) have moved to Malaga and absolutely love it.  The one issue, meeting new people at our age is not so easy.   There is a large gay community, much centered in a neighboring beach community Torremolinos.  [In fact we went to a drag show there last night with the Queens from last seasons RuPaul version in Spain.] We are professionals, still work full time remotely, in our early 60s.  I am full gringo, but working on my Spanish, and my husband is from Uruguay so Spanish is his first language.  We have been together for 32 years now.  If you choose Malaga let us know, we would love to meet you both and show you the City we have grown to love.


Hi JS,
My husband and I are going to a scouting trip to Malaga, Alicante and Valencia next year.
I wish it could be sooner, but I'm waiting for full retirement.
We currently live in Phoenix, Arizona and both in our 60's.
I admin a Facebook group with over 12,300 members called Where Do Gays Retire. I also started a Podcast with the same name which is on Apple Podcast, Google Podcast, Spotify, iHeartRadio Podcast, Stitcher, etc.
If you join my Facebook group, I can introduce you to some people in the Malaga area. I just did a podcast on Malaga with a gent that lives close by.
I hope this helps. Feel free to reach out to me in the group.
Best regards,

@markegoldstein hello Mark,

I live in Spain part time close to Malaga and love all 3 cities. From what I know it would be the least expensive for housing and the city living is relatively easy. The coastal towns are beautiful as well. The airport is great to get to other cities in Europe very easily and reasonably priced.

I take train or bus to Malaga, Cordoba, Granada, Sevilla and others quite regularly because I don't have a car either. Uber and Bla Bla car also work well there.

I did fall in love with Valencia this past February but noticed it was more expensive.

I would be happy to show y'all round sometime. I'm known for finding great restaurants and bars no matter what city I am in. My Spanish is pretty good.
You can always email me also. Best of Luck - you won't regret it.

Gary O
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Thanks so much for your reply!
Since I wrote this, my perspective has somewhat changed.
For me, I know favor Malaga, and Alicante. Valencia is still a choice, but the more I do research on these cities, Malaga and Alicante
pulled into the lead, :-)
I can't wait to visit, but it will be sometime next year. Life is too short! We have to do what we want to do now!


Greetings Mark,
My husband and I are now residents of Barcelona.  We both grew up in Los Angeles California but spent the last decade in the desert of Las Vegas as real estate developers. 
We made the permanent move to Barcelona as it offered the international lifestyle that we have grown to appreciate.  World class dining and museums plus the beach is just minutes away if you want to go swimming in the Mediterranean. 
We used the services of a law firm to establish residency.  Our biggest mistake was in not getting the non-lucrative visa, as it made us run around and up into Andorra to stop the clock from ticking on the 90/180 eu rules.  Had we gotten the non-lucrative visa all of that would have been a moot point and we certainly qualify for one.  Still, we got residency by buying an apartment in the Eixample. 
I love and adore living here.  The streets are living museums.  Each day, walking our dogs we notice different things from different angles of architectural wonders.  The gay life is very busy, but we don't partake in that, though it will be nice when we have friends come out and visit.  The restaurants are wonderful and the cost of living is certainly cheaper than what we are used to in L.A., but, yes it's one of the more expensive cities in Spain.  But what you get in return is well worth the added expense.  Transportation is a breeze.  40 euros gets you a month pass for metro/buses/trains within the city of Barcelona.  Longer excursions by train are more, obviously. 
We have lived in many places, Buenos Aires, Santiago, Bangkok, Mexico City and all over California and this place is exactly what we were looking for now that we are in our early 60s.  Medical insurance is much cheaper than it is in the US.  Fortunately, we haven't needed it, yet.  We still have insurance in the States as it comes with my husbands retirement.
Another benefit:  Sitges and other beach resorts abound and are a quick train trip from Barcelona.  Along with the museums and the theater and opera and galleries and shopping...oh, the shopping...Barcelona is home to one of  Europe's oldest flea markets, Les Encants, and I love finding incredible bargains there, bronzes, porcelain, antiques, vintage, junk.  The Gothic quarter is amazing and if you are counting your steps it will be almost impossible not to do at least 10K per day. 
Thanks so very much for your reply. It sounds like you found your piece of heaven.
Besides, my husband and I coming out to Spain next year to visit to scout for a place to live, I also started a Podcast
Based on my Facebook group Where Do Gays Retire.
Would you be willing to be my guest on my podcast on the topic of being an expat and moving to Barcelona? If you send me an email to [email protected], I can send you details.
Again, thank you for such a thorough response. Looking forward to a conversation.


@JT Dark Sorry it took so long to reply. I worked with Olivia Foster at Asisa Health Insurance.

[email protected]

It was 835 € for my first year, I'm 65.

I liked her a lot. She answered all my question promptly. I needed to copy the certificate for my visa application and she told me the page number it was on. I'm glad she did as there were over 100 pages as it list all the care options and points of service. Then at first I printed what I thought was the certificate but looked back at her email and found I made an error.


Hi Mark - it's been almost a year since your initial post, so would love to hear about your progress and experience towards relocation to Spain.  Personally, I'm ready to relocate (66, gay, partnered, Los Angeles) and trying to decide between Spain and Portugal.  Spain is my first choice but Portugal is more tax friendly for the first 10 years.  If you or any readers have any experience  regarding taxes I'm sure others would be interested is something to consider.

I'm  looking at the Malaga area and Alicante as well.  I've been to Valencia and it is a beautiful city with a lot to offer but Malaga and Alicante are more manageable with easier access to the outdoors and more budget friendly.

Thank you for starting this thread.  Advice from other gay people seems to be the most helpful. 

Looking forward to checkng out your facebook group this evening.



Portugal and Spain are neighbours, and the culture, languages, food, and weather are very similar. Both have some delightful cities and beaches. Both have good state healthcare. Both have low-cost airline access to/from the rest of Europe. Both would be a lot cheaper than living in LA.

Portugal's D7 does greatly simplify the tax situation, and property is probably slightly cheaper than Spain too.

But there's not a lot in it. I assure you, you will have a very nice retirement, whichever one you choose. :-)

We have a holiday apartment near Alicante, and it's great. But there are plenty of other places in both Spain and Portugal which would be just as great. And plenty more that would be greater... or even barely noticeably less great. :-)

Your posting reminded me of an article I read recently in the NY Times, about Europe's rising popularity with Americans. I did a quick search to track it down for you:

Americans Head to Europe for the Good Life on the Cheap

Home sales to Americans have increased significantly, giving them a chance to enjoy a lifestyle they could not afford in major U.S. cities...

As an additional bonus: when you leave LA - regardless of where you move to in Spain or Portugal - you will feel significantly better looking. :-)


So I'll "feel significantly better looking"...promise?

thanks for your informative reply.