Best places to retire in Spain

5 min read

Spain has long been a popular destination for British retirees seeking a warm climate and a relaxed lifestyle. From the sunny Costas to the cooler north or the cities of Madrid, Barcelona or Valencia, this vast country has plenty of choices if you want to retire to Spain.

Things to consider when retiring to Spain

When planning to retire in Spain it’s important to consider:

  • Transport – will you have a car and are you confident about driving on the right? You will need a vehicle if you choose to live in a remote area. Alternatively, the larger cities and towns have excellent public transport networks.
  • Culture – do you want to make friends with the locals and be part of the community? If so you should investigate the clubs and activities available in the area you’re thinking of.
  • Cost of living – it’s far cheaper to live in the smaller villages than in the cities.
Good to know

Spain ranks no. 54 out of 146 countries of the world in terms of the cost of living index, with Bermuda being the most expensive at no. 1. The UK is no. 27, making it much cheaper to live in Spain¹.

  • Healthcare – do you have private healthcare or are you entitled to Spanish healthcare? Is there a doctor’s surgery and hospital nearby?
Good to know

If you receive a pension from the UK you may be entitled to state healthcare in Spain². You will need to apply for an S1 form from the NHS Overseas Healthcare Services³.

Choosing where to retire in Spain

Where you decide to live in Spain depends on the kind of life you wish to lead. Do you want to take a morning stroll along the beach, meet fellow expats, explore the mountains and countryside or mix with the locals?

Costa del Sol

One of the top choices for retirees is the Costa del Sol due to its sunny weather and beautiful beaches. This part of Andalucia is known as the Sunshine Coast and offers the stylish cities of Malaga and Marbella (ideal for golfers).

Property on the Costa del Sol coast tends to be more expensive than the Costas further north, as it’s known as a yachting community and the French Riviera of Spain. Head inland, and you’ll find a selection of affordable properties that offer peaceful countryside living.

If you’ve always dreamed of living in the mountains, the Sierra Nevada is the perfect choice. Located in Granada, if you enjoy outdoor pursuits and skiing this is the region to retire to.

Costa Blanca

Stretching from Torrevieja to Gandia, the Costa Blanca is a popular destination for retirees. Popular with expats, the towns of Javea, Denia and Santa Pola offer sandy beaches, fishing ports and inland countryside to walk or cycle through.

Planning your retirement in Spain


North of the Costa Blanca is Valencia, a vibrant city with a mild climate known for its Arts and Science Museum, beaches and nearby national parks, such as Albufera. Famous for Valencian paella, seafood and wines, Valencia is a good choice if you want city living near the coast and nature.

North Spain

If you enjoy exploring rugged coastlines and prefer a cooler climate, head for North Spain. This area encompasses Galicia, Asturias, the Basque Country and Cantabria. Living in this region has the benefit of the ports of Santander and Bilbao, which offer regular ferries to the UK – ideal if you want to take your car.

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The Catalan coastline is known as the Costa Brava and enjoys a Mediterranean climate and plenty of pretty beaches and picturesque fishing villages. You could make your home in one of the many charming coastal towns and villages or settle in Barcelona, Girona or Tarragona.

If you enjoy art and culture you can visit the many museums that display the works of Catalan artist Salvador Dalí and also see the famous Sagrada Família church which is still unfinished.


If you enjoy city living and want to experience the buzz of living in Spain’s capital city Madrid is the place to choose. There’s plenty to see and do, from tapas at outdoor bars to visits to parks, museums and the famous Prado art gallery and museum.

If you choose to live in Madrid you won’t need a car as the public transport system is excellent. There is also a large expat community of people from all over the world, so you’ll have the chance to make international friends.

Being retired in Spain : what you need to know


As the capital of Andalusia, Seville attracts retirees with its enchanting beauty, warm climate and Moorish history. The city has magnificent landmarks, such as the awe-inspiring Alcázar Palace, the majestic Cathedral of Seville, and the iconic Plaza de España.

If you’ve always wanted to learn flamenco dancing or play Spanish guitar, this is the place to do so. With its many bars, restaurants and laid-back way of life (family come first, as in all of Spain) Seville is an enticing city to retire to.

The Balearics

If you prefer island life Mallorca or Menorca are popular choices to retire to. Choose sea views or countryside surroundings and spend your time exploring these beautiful islands.

If you’re looking for a more bohemian lifestyle, Ibiza offers a mix of lively bars combined with stunning scenery.

Good to know

You can have your UK pension transferred to a Spanish bank account in Spain. The good news is the exchange rate of euros to pounds is higher, making the cost of living in Spain more affordable.


Whether you want to live in a finca in the Sierra Nevada, a villa with a swimming pool on the Costa Blanca or in one of Spain’s lively cities, retirement to this wonderful country is sure to be one of the best decisions you make.

If you need advice on where to move to in Spain or how to buy or rent a property iad Overseas property consultants* are here to help. Contact us and we’ll help make your retirement to Spain as smooth as possible.

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