Many of us dream of retiring abroad to Spain however it is a massive decision so it is worth doing as much research as possible and taking advice and tips from others who have already taken the plunge and retired already to Spain.
Sadly, many expats end up bitterly disappointed with their life in Spain and many return home.
We examine some of the things you should consider BEFORE you actually make the move.
When looking for the best places to retire in Spain in 2023, there are certain things that need to be considered before taking the plunge.
Here are a few to think about, along with some of the best places to live in Spain .
As we age, our bodies become less tolerant of high temperatures. We begin to tire more quickly. We feel uncomfortable, and we get sunburnt, even when using high factor sunblock. Remember, when living in your favourite place in Spain, moving to a cooler area isn’t an option. At least, not without a lot of upheaval and additional expense.
To integrate – or join the expats:
Do you plan to live like a local, or join the expat brigade? While the majority of expats live in and around the busy tourist areas, others, wishing to more fully embrace the Spanish way of life, take up residence in the smaller towns and traditional villages, which haven’t been so affected by the spread of tourism.
If you are considering going rural, a smattering of conversational Spanish will go a long way to help you settle in. Nonetheless, the Spanish are very friendly people, and within a short space of time will be welcoming you to their fiestas, and village way of life.
A home with a sea view – or a life in the city:
The majority of British immigrants choose purpose-built homes along the coast, or around the local golf club.
For younger immigrants moving to Spain to work, the big cities such as Madrid, Barcelona, or Seville may be more appealing, with the big city bustle and vibrant multi-cultural nightlife. Many people dream of living by the ocean. Where are the best places to live in Spain by the sea? Popular coastal areas are the Costa del Sol and Costa Blanca.
Crime in Spain:
Crime in all areas of Spain is lower than the UK, and serious crimes, such as robbery with violence or using an offensive weapon, much lower. However, tourist areas the world over attract petty criminals, pick-pockets, and scammers determined to relieve visitors of their hard-earned spending money. The usual precautions apply.
Is it Cheaper to Live in Spain:
If you are bringing an outside income to Spain and the Islands, such as a UK pension, then yes. Pre-2016, it would have been an emphatic yes, with the pound/euro exchange rate often around €1.40 to the pound. Nowadays, with the drop in the pound, you’re lucky to get €1.08 to the pound.
If you’re working in Spain, everything is relative. Although rents, utility costs, and foodstuffs, are cheaper (and fresher) in Spain, wages and salaries are lower than the equivalent jobs in the UK.
Healthcare in Spain:
Finally, but perhaps critically, you need to very carefully examine the quality and availability of healthcare abroad because in many nations there are long waiting lists for treatment for example.
In other countries, you may not get the sort of social care and support you’d have in your own home nation, and as you get older and older, you never know what sorts of help and care you will need in life.
On top of all of this is the concern that healthcare can cost a lot of money. Is there insurance you can buy to protect your health care needs long-term?
Look carefully at all of these aspects before you commit to a relocation – because, without your health, you have nothing.
Having thought about your own personal situation from these 5 key and critical points of consideration, hopefully, you will be in a more confident and well-informed position to make the right decision about whether an overseas retirement is right for you…
Finances – Retirement Planning & Calculations:
The number one reason why those who relocate to Spain decide to repatriate and return home is a financial one. If you don’t sort your money out before you go you can quickly and easily fall into a trap where everything around you becomes too expensive and you haven’t got the savings in place to support you for the long-term.
Before you even think about moving abroad therefore, you have to have a cold, long, hard and objective look at your money situation and determine whether you can comfortably afford to move abroad. We have partnered with some very good financial advisors in Spain.
Relocating costs money, there are no two ways about it. What’s more, a fluctuation in a currency’s value can leave you suffering if you haven’t protected against it. If you work hard on money matters before you go, you can secure your retirement abroad – but if you fail to plan, you’ll be risking a lot.
Friends & Family:
Do you have family that you’re emotionally close to, perhaps you have children and grandchildren who still really count on you for support and guidance? Can you leave really them behind with no serious regrets if you move to Spain?
Maybe your family will come with you – or perhaps they will plan to visit often. If the latter is true for you, you will need to think about the affordability of accessibility of where you’re thinking about living overseas.
Talk to your family about your plans and ask them to think about the options of your retirement to Spain from both your point of view and their own. You may get a broader perspective enabling you to determine whether it is indeed right for you to go, or better for you to stay.
When you relocate to Spain you will be without your closest friends, and it may well take some time for you to forge new friendships. This is a reality you need to get to grips with. Those who are prepared for facing a new life alone and getting on with establishing a new lifestyle alone as well, do far better than those who suddenly realise they have cast themselves adrift when they relocate overseas.
There are no two ways about it, you will make new friends – and your old friends will continue to love and support you – but it can take time to establish the supportive relationships you need in life once you relocate. Be prepared and you’ll likely be ok!
So, where are the best places to retire in Spain?
Retiring on the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun):
Back in the days before European Arrest Warrants, this fabulous area of the Andalusian coast was affectionately known in the UK as Costa del Crime, because so many of Britain’s most wanted had fled to the area and set up shop. Nonetheless, the Costa del Sol resorts have always been one of the UK and Europe’s, favourite places to retire in Spain.
The area stretches for 160 km. From Manilva, its most southerly point, to Nerja, and takes in the popular holiday destinations of Estepona, Marbella, Fuengirola, Torremolinos, the beautiful city of Malaga, and Torre del Mar.
It is the mild winters that make the Costa del Sol such a popular retirement choice for Brits. Average annual temperatures are around 18C. January lows are around 12C, and August highs around 26C. The area enjoys an average of 300 sunshine days a year.
The Costa Blanca (White Coast):
Around the south-eastern Spanish coast of Alicante, stretches 200 km of enchanting white-sand beaches, coves and inlets, that make up the Costa Blanca coast.
From Pilar de la Horadada, to Denia in the north, the area includes eighteen main towns, and the popular tourist and expat destinations of Javea, Calpe, Benidorm, Alicante, Santa Pola, Guardamar del Segura, and Torrevieja. If native is your thing, a little further south are the coastal villages of Cabo Roig, Dehesa de Campoamor, and Torre Horadada.
The climate is a little warmer than the Costa del Sol, and average annual highs are around 20C. Mid-summer temperatures are higher, averaging 29C, while winter temperatures are broadly similar to the Costa del Sol.
The big two of Benidorm and Torrevieja attract the majority of tourists and retirees, and have active expat communities. However, with the Costa Blanca being one of the most popular places to retire in Spain, many of the surrounding towns and villages have their own expat communities, who have embraced the Spanish culture, the Mediterranean diet, and the laid-back lifestyle.
Murcia and Almeria:
As the coastline begins to bend round to the south, the attractive costas of the Almeria and Murcia areas come into view. Getting closer to the African coast, plenty of sunshine is the order of the day. Daytime temperatures around Murcia through the summer reach the high twenties to low thirties, while January temperatures can drop to 10C. Expect the same daytime highs in Almeria, although night-time temperatures tend to be three or four degrees warmer.
Because Murcia has escaped a lot of the mass tourist commercialisation that has decimated much of Spain’s Mediterranean coastline, it is one of the nicest places to retire to in Spain for those wanting a quieter lifestyle. Agriculture is the main source of income inland, with orange and olive groves, apple orchards, vineyards and plantations filling the rural landscape. With its exceptional air quality, the inland villages attract a number of both French and German expats, as well as British.
Almeria is similar, with those preferring to live amongst other British expats settling around the coastal areas, and those wishing to integrate choosing the villages and small towns around Almeria. The whole area is well served with international airports, and direct flights to the UK.
Retiring to the North of Spain:
With a climate similar to the UK, and few who speak English, unless you are fluent in Spanish, you will find integrating a hard slog.
A certain amount of tourism exists, with short-break visitors to the cities of Bilbao, San Sebastian, and Santander through the summer. During the winter months, the whole area is left to the locals. For those wanting to work in Northern Spain, securing a job from the UK, is the only way to ensure any employment in a country still in the grip of recession.
Retiring to the Balearics:
Sitting around 125 miles off the coast of Spain, the Balearic islands of Majorca (Mallorca), Minorca (Menorca), Ibiza, and Formentera, attract immigrants from the UK, Germany, and Italy, as well as other European countries. The high number of UK visitors over the years has spawned the usual expat-run British bars and fast food outlets. These, in turn, have helped establish a vibrant expat community of retirees and young British workers.
Retiring to the Canary Islands:
Just over 60 miles off the coast of Morocco, the Canary Islands have for decades been a magnet for Brits wanting to retire in the sunshine. With winter temperatures often higher than on most UK summer days, and summer temperatures that can hit 30+C, it is certainly a place for the sun worshippers.
Of the seven main islands, Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, and Lanzarote have the largest British expat communities, along with communities from Germany, Italy, Scandinavia, and other European countries. Smaller groups of expats are also found on La Palma, La Gomera, and El Hierro.
With its close proximity to the UK, English as a second language, and the large expat populations, Spain and her islands are one of the easiest and safest places to choose to spend your retirement.
However, take a little time. Lock-up, or let out your home for six months. Book a long-let apartment in your chosen destination, and spend the six months listening to how others achieved their retirement dream.
Finally, one word of caution. Keep your cards close to your chest until you are sure of the people you are talking to about your plans. As a good friend once said to me: ‘Not all the sharks are in the sea, and not all of them have a Spanish accent.’
Advice from Retirees Moving to Spain
Jane Morgan says: Thank you for your article I have read it with interest as this is what my husband and I plan to do in October this year. Having read your article it would appear that we have taken the correct approach and this has set my mind to rest.
Having holidayed in the Benissa area we bought an apartment in Jalon in 2005. It suited us to have an apartment at that time as we could only spend short periods there and the property would be safe when empty.
Increasingly over the last five years, we have spent more time in Jalon getting to know the area and have made a number of friends and we are now confident that this is the place that we want to spend our retirement.
Our only regret is that we didn’t start to learn Spanish straight away as we would expect to be quite good by now, but we went to night school last year and have some of the basics and will continue even when we are there.
We are making the move with our finances in place and in the knowledge that we will have to budget. Also having spent time in the apartment we now know that we would miss a garden and are hoping to sell and maybe find and old finca to put our stamp on.
We know this may take time, but that is no different to the UK as we have had our property here on the market for 18 months now whilst desperately wanting to move to Spain.
Anyone thinking that is easier to make a living in the UK at present should do their homework before returning. I have during my working life earned excellent money during my career as an HR Manager/Director but since my Company closed due to the recession in 2009 and at the age of 58 the only work I have been able to find is part-time in a call centre, and yes, both my husband (who was also made redundant) and I have taken these roles until such time as our house is sold and we can make the permanent move.
There are no guarantees that lifestyles can be maintained in the UK, never mind a foreign country when you don’t speak the language. These are times which call for adaptability, drive, and a willingness to take a whole new approach to how you want to live your life.
I would like to think I could find some part-time work when I get there, so in the meantime, I will get my nose into the learn Spanish books to improve my chances.
Get Your FREE Financial Review…
We are sure you have found this page because you have concerns or questions about elements of finance and living in Spain.
Why not clear up your nagging doubts and questions by speaking to a professional financial advisor for a free review to establish what help you may require with no obligation.
We have teamed up with financial expert Sam Daynes of Holborn Assets who has kindly offered to help readers of the SpainMadeSimple.com website.
Sam can have an initial chat to establish what help you require. This is bound to help you. Just click the image below and then fill out a few basic details so he can follow up with you.
About Sam Daynes: He has been a financial adviser for over 23 years. He enjoys spending time with his clients, to really understand their needs, requirements and goals. In doing so, this ensures he builds individual, tailor-made solutions. Through his many years of experience, he has developed an in-depth understanding of all aspects of the financial sector.
Contact Sam now by clicking the image below to get a FREE financial review…
Or go direct to Sam’s diary/calendar and get booked in immediately…
Places to consider retiring to on the Costa Blanca: Albir, Alcossebre, Alcoy, Alfaz del Pi, Algorfa/La Finca, Alicante, Almoradi, Altea, Beniarbeig, Benidoleig, Benidorm, Benijófar, Benimar, Benissa, Benitachell, Bolulla, Busot, Cabo Roig, Calpe, Campoamor, Castalla, Catral, Caudete, Ciudad Quesada, Cumbre Del Sol, Denia, Dolores, El Campello, Elche/Elx, Els Poblets, Gandia, Gata de Gorgos, Gran Alacant, Guardamar, Hondon de la Nieves, Hondón Valley, Jalón Valley, Javea, La Drova/Barx, La Empedrola, La Fustera, La Marina, La Mata, La Nucia, La Zenia, Las Ramblas, Los Altos, Los Montesinos, Mar Menor, Mazarrón, Mil Palmeras, Monovar, Monserrat, Moraira, Oliva, Orba, Orcheta, Orihuela, Pedreguer, Pego, Pilar de la Horadada, Pinar de Campoverde, Pinoso, Playa Flamenca, Polop, Punta Prima, Rafol de Almunia, Relleu, Rojales, San Miguel de Salinas, Sanet Y Negrals, Santa Pola, Santiago de la Ribera, Sax, Teulada, Tibi, Torrevieja, Totana, Vall de Laguar, Villajoyosa, Villamartin, Villena, Villotel.
Places to consider retiring to on the Costa del Sol: Algarrobo, Algatocín, Alhaurín de la Torre, Alhaurín El Grande, Almáchar, Almargen, Almogía, Álora, Alozaina, Alpandeire, Antequera, Árchez, Archidona, Ardales, Arenas, Arriate, Benadalid, Benahavís, Benalauría, Benalmádena, Benamargosa, Benamocarra, Benaoján, Benarrabá, El Borge, El Burgo, (Sitio de) Calahonda, Campillos, Canillas del Aceituno, Canillas de Albaida, Cañete La Real, Carratraca, Cartajima, Cártama, Casabermeja, Casarabonela, Casares, Coín, Colmenar, Comares, Cómpeta, Cortes de la Frontera, Cuevas Bajas, Cuevas de San Marcos, Cuevas del Becerro, Cútar, Estepona, Faraján, Frigiliana, Fuengirola, Fuente de Piedra, Gaucín, Genalguacil, Guaro, Humilladero, Igualeja, Istán, Iznate, Jimera de Líbar, Jubrique, Júzcar, La Viñuela, Macharaviaya, Málaga, Manilva, Marbella, Mijas, Moclinejo, Mollina, Monda, Montejaque, Nerja, Ojén, Parauta, Periana, Pizarra, Pujerra, Rincón de la Victoria, Riogordo, Ronda, Salares, Sayalonga, Sedella, Sierra de Yeguas, San Pedro de Alcantara, Teba, Tolox, Torremolinos, Torrox, Totalán, Valle de Abdalajís, Vélez-Málaga, Villanueva de Algaidas, Villanueva de la Concepción, Villanueva de Tapia, Villanueva del Rosario, Villanueva del Trabuco and Yunquera.
Popular Related Reading…