With Spain’s economy on the up and memories of the financial crisis fading, the country’s biggest cities are back in the spotlight not just for investment but for jobs too. Each has its own culture and character. Each high street is individual, each residential district has its own particular idiosyncrasies.
While most British people head for the beaches in Spain when looking for property, others might want to move to a city where jobs are available and where life is busier. Spain is fortunate in that it has some wonderful cities, offering good communications, excellent choice of schools and plenty of culture, attracting people from all over the globe. So here is the lowdown on some of them:
People work hard in Madrid but they also play which makes for a good work/life balance
We have to start with Spain’s capital city. Madrid has a lot to offer in every respect. It is an elegant city with plenty of green spaces, a first class metro and bus service, an international airport and wonderful museums and art galleries. It also has a great music scene offering everything from classical concerts to late-night jazz.
People work hard in Madrid but they also play hard, which makes for a good work/life balance. Every nationality is represented in this cosmopolitan city, as demonstrated by the wide variety of restaurants and food available, not just in the city centre but also in residential districts. There are several British schools in the city as well as international ones and they offer education to children of all ages.
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The climate is typical of inland locations, cold in winter, very hot in summer. However, with global warming, Madrid has seen some milder winters of late. The summer heat tends to be dry which makes it more comfortable.
The capital city of Catalonia saw a regeneration in 1992 when it hosted the Olympics. Since then, it has become one of the world’s largest tourist destinations and has attracted hundreds of international businesses.
A modern, vibrant city by the sea, Barcelona has a huge port capable of welcoming the largest cruise ships and container ships afloat. There are also several pleasant beaches on which to relax. It is probably even more cosmopolitan than Madrid and its residential districts are leafy and comfortable. The centre has a wealth of wonderful architecture thanks to Gaudí and his contemporaries.
There are cycle lanes and wide boulevards and life here is very enjoyable. There is also a strong work ethic.
Transport connections are excellent and the metro is very efficient. El Prat airport has two terminals and direct flights to every corner of the world. There are cycle lanes and wide boulevards (as in Madrid) and life here is very enjoyable. There is also a strong work ethic. The city offers many opportunities for foreigners, particularly in the hospitality sector but also in education, marketing and import/export.
The Mediterranean climate is ambient, with mild winters and hot summers which can be quite humid. There is a lot on offer culturally too, with some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry making regular visits to the huge Palau Sant Jordi arena.
The third city of Spain, Valencia city lies a few kilometres from the sea and also has a large port area as well as a lovely promenade lined with bars and restaurants. The city centre seems quite small, although very pretty. Following a disastrous flood in 1957 when the river Turia which flowed through the city burst its banks killing 81 people and leaving large parts without water, electricity and gas, the riverbed was drained and rerouted. Eventually the citizens demanded it be turned into a park for the residents, rather than a construction site. Today there are fourteen kilometres of glorious parkland to be enjoyed with various locations dedicated to relaxation and sport.
Two specialities are Paella a la Valenciana and Agua de Valencia, which is made from fresh orange juice, cava and a dash of vodka or gin.
The historic centre is a maze of streets and little squares, the largest being the magnificent Plaza de la Virgen at the top of which is the wonderful cathedral. A city of food, there are tapas bars to suit every taste, good restaurants and two specialities – Paella a la Valenciana and Agua de Valencia. The latter is made from fresh orange juice, cava and a dash of vodka or gin.
Valencia has to be one of the most relaxed places to live in Spain. Property here is cheaper than in Madrid or Barcelona but there are some upmarket districts overlooking the river park. As with the two larger cities, there are British and international schools. The climate is typically Mediterranean with mild winters and warm springs and long hot summers.
Málaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol, has seen a transformation in recent years, turning it into “the best place to live in Spain” according to research in 2014. It is now an elegant city with newly built promenade and seafront, some excellent museums and galleries, and a very strong music scene (Pablo Alborán, probably Spain’s most popular singer/musician/songwriter comes from Málaga, where he received the best music tutoring).
The outlying residential districts are pleasant, with few high-rise buildings, plenty of greenery and some have lovely views.
The historic centre is condensed into a small area and is an absolute delight, renowned for its tapas bars and restaurants. The outlying residential districts are pleasant, with few high-rise buildings, plenty of greenery and lovely views.
With regard to work opportunities, transport and logistics is an expanding sector here but traditionally the city caters to tourism, construction and technology businesses. An average of 300 days of sunshine makes Málaga and its province one of the most sought after areas of Spain and as a result property isn’t cheap in the most desirable areas.
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The city of Zaragoza, in the province of Aragon, is often overlooked by British property buyers. This is a pity as it is a delightful place to live. It is the fifth largest city in Spain and much of the centre is pedestrianised, allowing residents to enjoy it without having to dodge traffic. It is an inland city and as such has very hot and dry summers, while winters tend to be cold. It is also a windy place but the comfortable way of life here more than compensates for that.
There is a lot of industry on the outskirts, which offers employment, and its central location means very good communications to Madrid – 90 minutes on the AVE fast speed train and a similar amount of time to Barcelona. Inside the city the bus service is frequent and cheap and Zaragoza airport serves several Spanish destinations.
The people here are particularly friendly. El Tubo is one of the best tapas bar areas in Spain and Zaragoza boasts two fabulous cathedrals in the same square, Plaza del Pilar.
The people here are particularly friendly. El Tubo is one of the best tapas bar areas in Spain and Zaragoza boasts two fabulous cathedrals in the same square, Plaza del Pilar. Pilar is the patron saint of the city.
Property here is comparatively inexpensive. A four-bedroom apartment overlooking the fabulous main square is currently on sale for €350,000 and would be at least twice the price in other large cities.
Of course, there are other wonderful large cities to explore in Spain, namely Seville, San Sebastian, Granada, Bilbao, Palma de Mallorca and Murcia. All of these offer a lively and exciting lifestyle and job opportunities. Why not take the time to discover the jewels that are Spanish cities for yourself?