Spain Fast Facts

Spain

Population: 48,563,476

Capital City: Madrid

Climate: Temperate; clear, hot summers in interior, moderate and cloudy along coast; cloudy, cold winters in interior, cloudy and cool along coast

Time Zone: UTC+1

Language: Spanish

Country Code: 34

Coastline: 4,964km

Spain: A Great Value Retirement Haven in The Old World

Picture a sun-drenched, white-washed house with a shady courtyard, perched on a cliff-top site in Spain. With the deep blue sea beyond, and an olive grove nearby, it’s the stuff of which fantasies are made.

Beaches…mountains…fabulous cities…colorful festivals, and, of course, sunshine almost everyplace. It’s not surprising that Spain is the most popular country for Europeans seeking a home overseas. Now North Americans, too, are starting to see the allure of Spain for laidback yet cultured European life.

Western Europe’s second-largest country (just slightly smaller than France), Spain offers fantastic variety in terrain, culture, and lifestyle. To start with, Spain has nearly 3,100 miles of coastline, and much of it is beach. In Northwest Spain, the hills are green, the climate is humid and mild (much like Oregon), and the coast is the chilly but dramatic Bay of Biscay. Spain’s eastern coast and part of the south border the warm waters of the Mediterranean, while the far-western reaches down south look out on the Atlantic. All the coastal areas have relatively temperate climates…cooler in the north, hotter in the south, but generally with only about 40 F between average highs and average lows year-round.

Seville, Spain
Seville, Spain

Looking for culture? Spain has a rich history. The Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans, and Arabs all settled here and left ample remains, language, and customs. Walk in the steps of sultans at Granada’s Alhambra, take the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela, or gaze on Segovia’s mighty Roman aqueduct, over 2,000 years old… You’ll find plenty of cities in Spain, large and small, which merit exploration.

And, thanks to rapid public transportation, it’s easy to get around Spain. High-speed and suburban train lines connect many cities, and bus routes crisscross the country. You can get from Madrid to destinations on the southern coast in three to four hours, to Valencia in two, and up to Barcelona in about three. In addition to the large airports in Madrid and Barcelona, smaller airports around the country—served by discount airlines as well as the major carriers—connect Spain with the rest of Europe.

This is First-World Europe, after all. You’ll find modern services, efficient transport, and excellent healthcare in Spain.

You’ll also find a lively, outgoing lifestyle and some of the best food and wine around. In Spain, life is meant to be enjoyed, and hanging out is an art. And, even better, it all comes at an affordable price: Spain has one of the lowest costs of living in Europe. So if you’ve ever dreamed of a romantic, affordable European lifestyle, take a look at Spain.

Find Out More From Our Spain Editor

From the Archives of Spain

Trading the Big Apple For This Affordable Spanish City

Trading the Big Apple For This Affordable Spanish City

In the heart of Spain, nestled between mountains, sunburnt hills, and row after row of thriving olive trees, sits Madrid. Despite being the third largest city by population in the European Union, Madrid maintains the feeling of tranquility and neighborliness that is so often replaced by the rushed and stressed life of other big cities. That’s precisely why I, a fast-walking, fast-talking girl from New York, stepped off the plane and into the blaring July sun of Madrid, took a look around, and traded it all in for a slowed-down, low-stress life in Spain’s metropolis.

Lipstick, Legs, and Ham…Expat Adventures in Hitchhiking

Lipstick, Legs, and Ham…Expat Adventures in Hitchhiking

I’m a middle-aged woman who pays taxes, owns property, and has a career of sorts. I’m a Serious Person, and so are my friends. Mostly. So when I find myself standing by the side of a road in rural Spain, holding a sign written in lipstick (Burt’s Bees Raisin, to be exact—my favorite shade—and sacrificed for the occasion), I can’t help asking myself: How did I get here? The road is empty and so is the Spanish landscape, which stretches for miles around me, except for the six-house village across the road.

Beaches, Romance, and Rent of $540 a Month in Europe

Beaches, Romance, and Rent of $540 a Month in Europe

Cosmopolitan cities, glorious sunshine, delicious cuisine, and low costs—as a retirement or second-home destination, Spain is hard to beat. The southern province of Andalucia, particularly the area around the Costa del Sol, is the epitome of good-value, romantic Spanish living. It has everything: long sandy beaches perfect for strolling on…romantic, white-washed hill towns cling to the Andalusian hillsides...

Test-Drive a New Life in Spain This Year for $2,000 a Month

Test-Drive a New Life in Spain This Year for $2,000 a Month

Daily Postcard
By |
February 26, 2016

On a sunny spring day last year, I spent a pleasant hour or so shopping at my local market. The produce was fresh and appealing, the fish and seafood incomparable. My produce included goodies like ripe tomatoes; big bunches of fresh greens; tender artichokes picked so young that they have no fibrous choke; and juicy oranges and plums. On top lay my purchases from the fish hall: a pound of small shrimp and another of freshly caught tuna, from which I got three thick tuna steaks. I filled two large shopping baskets with food, for a total cost of about $18.

Rents From $650 in This Eternally Sunny European City

Rents From $650 in This Eternally Sunny European City

Expat-Matters
By |
January 27, 2016

In 2004 Karen McCann, now 63, and her husband Rich, 71, embarked on a year-long adventure in southern Spain. The newly retired couple had always loved the idea of living overseas, so they decided to try it for a year, making a home for themselves in sunny Seville.“We got here, and it was like, ‘Oh my God, we really like this,’” says Karen. “It’s so much like California—the weather, the Spanish speakers, the palm trees. We were comfortable with the whole atmosphere.

Punta Paloma: Southern Spain’s Most Unspoiled Beach

Punta Paloma: Southern Spain’s Most Unspoiled Beach

Daily Postcard
By |
December 7, 2015

Towering sand dunes, an expansive, golden-sand beach that goes on for miles, kite-surfers battling the strong, but warm, Atlantic wind…although Spain’s tourist hub of Marbella is just 63 miles to the east, here at Punta Paloma it feels a world away. It’s a sunny Saturday in early September as I stroll along this beautiful beach, looking for a spot to lay down my beach towel. But I’m not pushing my way through thronging crowds of sun worshippers to claim my little piece of sand.

I Swapped Teeming L.A. For a Quiet Life in Small-Town Spain

I Swapped Teeming L.A. For a Quiet Life in Small-Town Spain

Daily Postcard
By |
November 25, 2015

Coming from Los Angeles, a bustling city that moves at breakneck speed, to a cave house in a village with less than 1,500 people in Spain’s southeastern region of Andalusia was quite a shock. I traded in being kept awake at night by police helicopters shining spotlights arbitrarily into my windows and the smoggy skyline of downtown L.A., for a much slower pace of life and clear views of the peaceful Sagra mountain range that surrounds my new hometown of Galera.

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