Spain Is a European Retirement Paradise

Retiring in Spain is popular among expats looking for a retirement that combines First-World European luxuries with Spain’s famously sunny climate and abundant seaside living. An added bonus is Spain’s cost of living, which is among the lowest in Europe.

Retire in Spain on the Costa del Sol

For Europeans, the Costa del Sol is the most popular part of the Spanish coastline to buy, rent, and invest in real estate. Part of the Community of Andalusia, its infrastructure is excellent—there are international schools and first-class medical facilities—and there’s certainly no problem finding real estate agents, doctors, and lawyers who speak English. It’s the lingua franca for the area’s many expats, who come from around the world.

Some areas along this coast are high-rise horrors, of less appeal to North Americans than to sunshine-obsessed British, Germans, and Scandinavians. North Americans looking to immerse themselves in Spanish culture may instead want to check out seaside Málaga, with its museums, shops, and ancient history. They may prefer exclusive areas like the smart marina resort of Puerto Banús, or one of the charming villages along the coast or slightly inland.

And though you’re on Spain’s southern coast, you have easy access to the rest of Spain and the world—bus service crisscrosses the region, connecting Malaga with towns and villages all over southern Andalusia. And fast, modern air and rail connections from Malaga itself get you to the rest of Spain and beyond.

Retiring on the Costa Blanca

The stretch of coast between Alicante and Valencia, on Spain’s eastern Mediterranean border, is also tremendously popular for full- and part-time living. Anchored by two substantial cities, the coast in between them is dotted with smaller beach communities and villages.

Alicante, with a population of about 335,000, is famous for its near-perfect climate and friendly atmosphere. Average temperatures range from 43 F in the depths of winter up to 87 F at the height of summer. Its urban beaches and paseo maritime (boardwalk) attract tourists from around the world. But go just a few blocks inland and you find a bustling Spanish city.

Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city, lies at the north end of the Costa Blanca. It offers all the amenities of a major metropolis—hospitals, concert halls, museums, and more—but in a smaller, more intimate package than Madrid or Barcelona. Valencia has one of the largest historic centers in Europe, a vibrant area of churches, monuments, cobbled streets, as well as shops, restaurants, and bars. And, like Alicante, Valencia has urban beaches, accessible via bus and tram.

Both Alicante and Valencia have an international airport, and offer excellent bus and rail connections.

Retiring on the Orange Blossom Coast

Travel an hour north of Valencia and you’re in the heart of the Costa de Azahar–the Orange Blossom Coast. Still largely untargeted by foreign vacationers and homebuyers, it boasts acres of orange and almond groves, as well as sandy beaches like those of the Costa Blanca, farther south.

Here you’ll also find traditional Spanish villages and authentic Spanish beach resorts—like Benicassim, with a population of just 12,000. Five wonderful, sandy beaches stretch for almost 5 miles. And although there are some large tower blocks, the backdrop of green mountains is unscarred by ribbon developments of bungalows. Crisscrossed with ancient pilgrim paths, these sierras are especially lovely at sunset, when they take on a rosy pink glow.

Retiring on the Costa Dorada

South of Barcelona lies the Costa Dorada, the “Golden Coast.” Dotted with towns like Castelldefels, Sitges, and Vilanova I la Geltrú, this stretch of coast offers sophisticated living as well as beautiful beaches…and is an easy suburban-train ride to Barcelona and its big-city amenities.