There Are Many Reasons for Moving to Spain
There are dozens of reasons why expats are attracted by the prospect of moving to Spain — a rich and ancient history, romantic castles, fabulous cities, beaches, mountains, fiestas beyond number, succulent cuisine… Spain has it all. Yes, some beach resorts are overbuilt with concrete high-rises, but you can still find pretty seaside villages…and Spain off the beaten track is a revelation: a gracious, fulfilling, and traditional way of life that survives despite modern inroads.
Climate in Spain
Spain’s climate is mixed: Northwestern, green Spain, which borders the Atlantic, has cool summers, with fairly heavy rainfall in winter. The region is mountainous, with hills sometimes coming right down to the sea—the chilly waters of the Bay of Biscay, warm enough for swimming only in summer. But “green Spain’s” temperature range is not extreme: If a cool, year-round climate like that of Oregon appeals to you, then you’ll like this region.
Spain’s interior has a continental climate of hot, dry summers and cold winters. Temperatures may soar to the 90s F (occasionally even higher) in summer and drop to freezing in winter.
Moderate, cloudy conditions, with spring and autumn rainfall, are typical on the eastern, Mediterranean coast. The Balearic Islands have cool, wet winters and warm, dry summers, while the Canary Islands, off the African coast, have a more tropical climate.
Getting to Spain
The Spanish national airline, Air Iberia, offers flights from many U.S. cities like New York or Miami to Spain (Madrid, Barcelona, the Canary Islands, and more). Many other airlines based in the U.S. go to Spain, as well.
In addition, numerous budget airlines fly to and from Spain from other destinations within Europe, as does Iberia.
Popular airports serving coastal regions include those of Valencia, Alicante, and Malaga, along the Mediterranean coast; the airport in Jerez de la Frontera, serving Cadiz and the southern Atlantic coast west of Gilbraltar; and Bilbao and Santander, along the northwest Atlantic coast.
Away from the popular Costas, English isn’t as widely spoken as you might expect. Spanish fluency is not a prerequisite for moving to Spain, but you will want to learn some of the basics. And if you choose to live away from the Costas, you will need reasonably good Spanish to manage comfortably. Real estate agents will happily give you property listings, but with a focus on local interests, they can afford to ignore the language skills needed to attract international clients.
Though Spanish is the most useful language to know for Spain, keep in mind that it’s not the only language spoken there. Most people in Catalonia, for instance, prefer to speak their native Catalan, while a good third or more of those in the Basque Country, on Spain’s northern Atlantic coast, speak Basque as their first language. Gallego is spoken in Galicia, in the far northwest, and Valenciano in the Community of Valencia (the provinces of Valencia and Alicante). While all Spaniards do speak Spanish fluently, street and shop signs are often in the local language in these regions.
Popular Places to Move to in Spain
Moving to Barcelona
A thriving hub of fashion, culture, dining, and sports; Barcelona represents the highest standard of big-city living in Europe. Spain’s spruced-up second city has a 24-hour lifestyle and is popular for weekend breaks with Europeans.
Moving to the Costa Brava
Situated between the snow-capped Pyrenees and the Mediterranean, the picture-postcard province of Catalonia boasts Spain’s most spectacular coastal scenery–the Costa Brava. The name means “Wild Coast,” and it’s a ruggedly beautiful place of pine-covered cliffs and secret coves.
Moving to the Costa Blanca
The Mediterranean coast between the cities of Valencia and Alicante is sunny and warm for much of the year and filled with small beach communities. Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, offers big-city style with beach on the side. Alicante is more obviously a beach-tourism city…yet walk just a few blocks inland and you have a traditional Spanish city, village-style friendliness included.
Moving to Málaga
Hub of the Costa del Sol, the ancient port city of Málaga is less than 100 miles from the North African coast. With a lively, pedestrianized city center and plenty of museums, shops, and Moorish ruins, Málaga offers a year-round sunny, warm climate and surprisingly affordable living. With its international airport and fast rail connections, it’s also very accessible.
For a taste of a more authentic Spain, the hills behind the Costa del Sol’s busy resorts and golf course condominiums turn up plenty of treasures. Magical places to go house-hunting include the 31 towns and villages of the mountainous Axarquia area, high in the foothills above Malaga.
Moving to Granada
Baking under Andalusian skies, Granada pleasantly taps into the emotions as well as the senses. It bridges the worlds of Islam and Christianity, meshing together Jewish and Gypsy traditions along the way. With the Sierra Nevada mountain range as a backdrop, it’s difficult to envisage a more dramatic setting for a city or a sultan’s palace. And most foreign buyers are impressed by the “wow factor” of Granada’s compact center.