5 Great Places To Live In Spain

The Mediterranean coast of Spain has long been a favorite destination for retirees from the UK, Netherlands, and Scandinavia. Now, North Americans are also discovering the allure of Spain’s sunshine, modern amenities, relaxed lifestyle, and excellent safety record. While popular expat hotspots like Málaga, Alicante, Valencia, Barcelona, and Madrid are well-known, here are five smaller and serene alternatives for a blissful retirement:

  1. Benalmádena Nestled between vibrant Málaga and luxurious Marbella on the Costa del Sol, Benalmádena is a tranquil and family-friendly beach resort, boasting a population of 67,000. The area offers a plethora of attractions, including the Tivoli World amusement park, butterfly park, two aquariums, a dolphin and penguin exhibit, a casino, a cable car, and one of Andalusia’s largest marinas. The town also features a captivating Buddhist stupa. Benalmádena’s coastal landscape is adorned with hotels overlooking rocky shores, and winding staircases lead to secluded beaches where sunbathers and fishermen find serenity. Oceanview restaurants like Yuca’s offer alfresco dining with breathtaking multi-level vistas. The town is well-connected by a suburban train to Málaga’s airport, train station, and bus depot.
  2. Mijas Pueblo Situated about five miles inland from the Costa del Sol, the enchanting Andalusian pueblo of Mijas draws expats from around the world as the gateway to Costa del Sol’s renowned “golf valley,” boasting 27 golf courses within a seven-mile radius. The town’s year-round pleasant weather and reasonable greens fees make it a golfer’s paradise. However, even without its golfing allure, Mijas Pueblo’s narrow cobblestone streets, hidden plazas, and shops brimming with Spanish arts and crafts create a captivating destination. Mijas Pueblo’s charm is further enhanced by bright red geraniums cascading from blue flower pots on stone walls, and adorable burro carts wait to transport tourists to various restaurants, bars, and churches. The town’s population of just over 100,000 nearly doubles in the summer, and over 36% of the inhabitants are international expats.
  3. Almuñécar Founded by the Phoenicians, Almuñécar entices both expats and tourists with its 20 beaches and 340 days of sunshine per year. Located at the meeting point of Costa del Sol and Costa Tropical in the province of Granada, this seaside town of 28,000 permanent residents swells to triple that in the summer. Its traditional Spanish way of life combines seamlessly with recreational activities such as swimming, scuba diving, golfing, hiking, paragliding, and visits to the Aqua Tropic Water Park and Bonsai Garden Museum. Almuñécar boasts a public health center available 24/7, and nearby orchards produce subtropical fruits like avocados and mangos, making it a perfect fit for those seeking a tranquil coastal lifestyle.
  4. Sitges Known as the “Fire Island of Europe,” Sitges is a Mediterranean resort town located just 22 miles south of Barcelona. Popular since the 19th century, it is now a vibrant hub for artistic and alternative lifestyles, particularly within the LGBTQ+ community. The town boasts 17 stunning beaches surrounded by the dramatic Garraf Natural Park and has a permanent population of 26,000, with 35% being expats from Northern Europe. Sitges has earned the nicknames “Ibiza in miniature” for its lively nightlife and the “Saint Tropez of Spain” for its upscale real estate. During July and August, it transforms into a continuous beach party, while its legendary Carnival celebration in February/March attracts visitors from all over Europe. The town’s Pride Party and International Fantastic Film Festival in October are equally renowned.
  5. Miraflores de la Sierra For those seeking a serene mountain retreat within easy reach of a bustling city, Miraflores de la Sierra is the ideal choice. This picturesque medieval village with a population of 6,000 is nestled amid majestic peaks, just over 30 miles from Madrid. The town’s abundance of natural spring-fed fountains provides a refreshing respite and cooler summer weather, with a charming dusting of snow in winter. Miraflores de la Sierra is a paradise for hiking enthusiasts and rock climbers, offering a perfect setting for an active outdoor lifestyle. And when a change of pace is needed, a convenient bus ride can have residents in the heart of bustling Madrid in less than an hour.

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