When buying an overseas property, many of us, if we care to admit it, would prefer to have a few fellow countrymen in the neighbourhood for support and to compare notes with. Here are five wonderful Spanish communities where you will always find another expat to welcome you in.
Spain remains the number one destination for British people moving abroad. With prices still affordable but rising by around 10% this year, there is a good financial return to go with the sunshine, beaches, relaxed lifestyle and comparatively low cost of living.
One of the reasons so many British people live here is that Málaga airport is 15 minutes’ away and the city of Málaga offers wonderful shopping, restaurants, nightlife and culture.
The coasts of Spain are a magnet for British and other north European, American, Australian and other international buyers, but they are varied and each offers something different. Here are five expat hotspots to consider.
Benalmádena, Costa Del Sol
The seaside town of Benalmádena has the largest marina in Andalusia, with over 1,000 moorings. The buildings that straddle it are constructed with a Moorish influence and it is a very pleasant place to wander on a warm evening. The average annual temperature is 22℃ which makes the town a perfect place for all year round living – and many, many British people have moved here to enjoy all that southern Spain has to offer. Despite the high-rise blocks, wildlife is still to be found, including whales in the sea and plenty of birdlife above the town on the craggy rocks.
One of the reasons why so many British people live here is that Málaga airport is 15 minutes’ away and the city of Málaga offers wonderful shopping, restaurants, nightlife and culture. Above Benalmádena is the delightful village of Arroyo de Miel where you can enjoy a Spanish way of life, while on the coast below there is everything you would expect available for an expat community.
Roquetas De Mar, Almeria
Just 30 minutes’ from Almeria Airport you come to Roquetas de Mar with its miles of sandy beaches and long promenade. There are three golf courses nearby and the town has many international restaurants and good tapas bars. If you like water sports, there are plenty on offer here. The area also has some wonderful natural parks and salt flats where you can watch flamingos come and go.
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One of the richest towns in this part of Spain, it has a thriving tourist industry and also a large British community. The town though has many Spanish tourists and residents, so there is a mixture of nationalities, mainly families as the area is a perfect place to bring up children. There are several British and Irish bars and restaurants and prices are reasonable. More cosmopolitan than many other seaside towns, it doesn’t suffer from an excess of drunk tourists.
The British who live in Roquetas are well served with their own Primark store, Lily’s Bar which has the best fish and chips in town, a pub serving beef and Yorkshire pud and its own flea market.
According to recent statistics there are over 16,000 British people living on the island of Majorca. Lying to the north, Pollensa and Puerto de Pollensa have attracted an international community with many British choosing to live there full time or to buy their second home there. The town of Pollensa is a very typical Mediterranean place, with narrow streets winding upwards to a small and pretty centre. There is usually something going on, even in winter, and of course there is the beautiful surrounding countryside to enjoy in every season of the year.
Puerto de Pollensa has lovely sandy beaches, golf courses nearby and so attracts many tourists in summer, mostly Spanish, but also British and other Europeans. Property prices here are much higher than in most other areas of Spain as the Puerto has always attracted the discreetly wealthy including many British because it offers some of the most beautiful villas and properties in southern Europe. The area has an understated elegance and Palma, one of Europe’s most upmarket cities, is on the doorstep.
Orihuela Costa, Alicante
Here you will find the largest British community in Spain. People who live in Orihuela Costa have access to everything British – TV, newspapers, bars and restaurants. Over the past 30 years, the town has expanded dramatically with numerous housing estates (urbanisations) springing up and British people of all ages moving in. The older ones have come to retire, the younger ones come for work, and there is generally plenty of it, even if you only speak English.
Orihuela Costa has an average of 3,000 sunshine hours per year, twice as much as England’s east coast, and boasts excellent golf courses and a bowls club
There are plenty of beaches to enjoy, but the town of Orihuela is actually 20 kilometres from the coast. The area has an average of 3,000 sunshine hours per year, that’s twice as much as England’s east coast, and boasts excellent golf courses and a bowls club. Children go to Spanish schools and so the very young generation are bilingual. Many of the older people don’t speak Spanish and so stay on the coast where they will be understood and can enjoy a healthy social life. There are plenty of clubs and associations to keep you occupied in Orihuela, including the Royal British Legion, Rendezvous Girls Social Club, English folk music club and Neighbourhood Watch.
There are, of course, Spanish people living in Orihuela Costa but they tend to be here for work.
The British are one of the largest groups of non-Spanish/Catalan residents in the capital of Catalonia. Most are here to work and to enjoy the wonderful work/life balance the city has to offer, and it is a popular base for “digital nomads”, who need only a laptop and an internet connection to work anywhere in the world.
Located between the Mediterranean sea and the Pyrenees mountains, Barcelona is a short trip away from both and some wonderful countryside as well. Communications are excellent both nationally and internationally which means that a two-hour flight will get you back to the UK easily. Living in Barcelona but commuting back to London to work a couple of days a week is perfectly feasible.
Living in Barcelona but commuting back to London to work a couple of days a week is perfectly feasible.
For many British, the fact that Barcelona has all four seasons is a bonus. It’s cool (but rarely really cold) in winter, pleasant in spring and autumn and hot in the summer. Restaurants and bars of every description line the streets – there’s even a British privately-owned artisanal beer company – and the city’s universities ensure a large youthful population.
There are plenty of English-speaking clubs and associations in Barcelona to keep you interested and also international organisations where you can meet people from other countries. There are two languages spoken, Castilian and Catalan – you might have to learn a few words in both to get along with the locals and enough to understand a local menu which is bound to be written in Catalan only. Public transport is efficient and reasonable, however the cost of rentals is very high, so many British people choose to live in the suburbs or just outside in areas like Sant Cugat del Valles.
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The Spain Buying Guide is a free, independent resource to help anyone who is looking to buy property in or move to Spain through each critical stage of their property buying journey.
Set up to help our readers avoid the many complexities and pitfalls of buying property in Spain, the guide takes you through each stage of the property buying process, with practical recommendations from our experts who have been through the process themselves.