Lingering over afternoon drinks in balmy Barcelona or enjoying a delicious paella on a warm summer evening on the Costa Blanca, with the Mediterranean sparkling in the background – Spain’s beach resorts have a lot to offer.
Most Brits are familiar with Spain as a holiday resort, and may think the prices are generally on par with the UK, but did you know that living in the country is probably much more affordable than you think?
It is not always easy to get an accurate perception of a country while on holiday. But a full-time lifestyle in Spain is healthy, full of exceptional food and wine, with welcoming people and true artistry in the buildings, music, and museums. And furthermore, it is inexpensive.
Is It Possible to Escape and Retire to Spain?
If you’ve ever dreamed of escaping the British weather and spending time overseas, don’t give up on that dream. Planes will take off again—and overseas coastlines will once more beckon.
Until we can travel, it’s a good time to take stock. There’s no doubt: a crisis changes us. The health crisis of COVID-19 has created much misery, but at the same time, it has created new opportunities.
The Iberian land of 8,000 beaches extends a welcoming environment, an inexpensive lifestyle, and sunshine almost all year-round. It’s a good option for an affordable travel destination, a place to spend the winter, or as a full-time country for retirement.
Brexit has thrown a few spanners in the works, but nothing unsurmountable. Here you can have more fun, and an adventure-filled life without a massive nest egg if you are coming up to retirement. Because in many parts of Spain you can live better, and spend less than in the more Northern European countries.
And that means you could afford to relax, finally.
Even in the more expensive resorts, property prices don’t break the bank. Here in Javea, for instance, which is largely considered “upper-end” as far as resorts go, for around €130,000, you can purchase a fully renovated 2-story, 3-bedroom home with a large terrace on a peaceful pedestrian street within easy walking distance to the beach.
You will likely pay only €2-3 for a glass of wine at a café facing the sea. Once you have spent time in an area, you’ll realise most locals and expats spend way less than the average tourist for similar experiences. For around €12, a menu of the day typically includes two or three courses and wine.
When you live in Spain, you won’t have to spend a fortune on holidays abroad, either. You could follow in Ernest Hemingway’s footsteps in the Navarre region with its natural open spaces, rich regional cuisine, and mild climate. Or consider wandering the small, narrow streets of Granada’s old quarter and go back in time to when the Moors ruled Spain.
You might prefer a few weeks exploring the Costa del Sol for some of the most crowded and un-crowded beaches in Europe. Yes, undeveloped natural beaches still exist in Spain!
It’s not just the resorts and cities that entice visitors to Spain to return again and again. Although Barcelona and Valencia are outstanding with their stunning urban beaches, vibrant nightlife, and lively street ambiance, Spain offers a lot more than bustling cities.
The Costa Blanca
The Costa Blanca is the number one choice amongst British citizens who want to retire to Spain. It’s not difficult to see why, as this coast enjoys a balmy climate, there is plenty to do, it is easy to travel to and from the UK. Because of the large expat community, there are plenty of new friends to be found. A wonderful retirement awaits you if you take the plunge and relocate here.
To get to the Costa Blanca, most people fly into Alicante airport. From Alicante, there are flights to and from every main UK airport. You can also fly into Valencia, one of Spain’s most interesting and inexpensive cities, and travel down to the Costa Blanca by coach. The ALSA Bus Company runs regular low-cost services from Valencia to Costa Blanca resorts.
A bright retirement in Javea (Xàbia in Valencian) awaits you in the northern part of the Costa Blanca. Javea is quite unique, as with a permanent population of almost 28,000, over half of the residents come from outside Spain, with the British leading the way. The large number of English speakers and expats means there is always plenty going on socially, from bowling to computer clubs to arranged walks, and of course plenty of nights out in local bars and restaurants.
Javea has been inhabited since prehistoric times when cave dwellers settled on Montgó mountain, an imposing 753 metres high limestone massif, which protects the town from the elements, and looks remarkably like a sleeping elephant, which visiting grandchildren will find enthralling.
Jávea has a lively fishing port area and marina where you can walk around admiring the boats. Three kilometres inland, you’ll find the “pueblo” or old town. Although a well-known resort due to its fabulous beaches, Jávea is at heart a typical Spanish town, with narrow winding streets and whitewashed houses.
A great attraction for retirees is the promenade of Arenal beach which extends for almost a mile. Some people swim in the sea here all year, but it is too cold for most in winter. On the Arenal promenade, there are plenty of bars, restaurants, and shops. It is the perfect spot to enjoy a stroll with a break for a coffee and cake or a beer and tapas on the way.
Javea is within driving distance of four golf courses, including the Club de Golf Jávea, which is just 6km from Javea town centre. There is a padel club and two tennis clubs if you enjoy racquet sports, plus many more outdoor activities to enjoy or take up for a healthy retirement, including hiking, cycling, kayaking, and of course sunbathing.
Unfortunately, the COVID crisis has hit Spanish households hard financially, and many property owners are financially motivated to sell. Motivated real estate sales can offer some amazing deals. And even at full price, you’ll get value for your money and with the modest cost of living, a couple can live extremely well in most Spanish towns for around $22,000 a year, and that includes rent.
You Don’t Need to Be Wealthy to Live With a View of the Med
In and around Javea, you can rent a 2-bedroom apartment with a Mediterranean view from about 700€ a month. Remember this is with a sea view, and if you go a little inland or to a less touristic part of the resort, you’ll find rents cheaper.
Buying or Renting—You’ll Find Housing Bargains
When it comes to getting value for money, Spain offers some of the best property bargains in Europe, providing a healthy lifestyle for much less than you’d pay for a comparable UK property.
Think of Alicante, a province on Spain’s Mediterranean coast—an area with a large expat population with English widely spoken. The city of Alicante has a total of eight glorious beaches, the San Juan Beach alone stretches for almost 6.5 kilometres.
Lined with shady providing palm trees and a famous pavement featuring 6.5 million marble tiles, El Paseo de la Explanada is Alicante’s promenade. It’s perfect for an evening stroll, when everyone is out and enjoying the beach, eating ice creams, and gathering on outside bar terraces.
At the time of writing, its possible to find a two-bedroom sea view apartment in a prestigious area close to the San Juan Beach for around €200,000. Try getting a sea view flat for that price in Brighton!
Travel 40km south of Alicante to Guadamar de Segura, and you’ll find 2-bed apartments with sea views for €120,000. The cheap property in this area has attracted a large expat community, and there is always plenty going on socially.
While prices in Javea tend to be on average a little higher than towns like Guadamar de Segura, bargains can still be found.
A Second Home in Spain
If you love the thought of spending time in Spain, but don’t like the thought of retiring to Spain and moving away from your friends and family indefinitely, consider a second home in Spain.
When purchasing a holiday home, you gain a base in a new part of the world, and in no time, amazing new places become local to you. You get an excuse to travel to Spain more frequently and enjoy the feeling of being home rather than on holiday when you arrive.
There are many opportunities to buy apartments suitable as holiday homes for well under €100,000. If you need a mortgage to part-finance the home, it can be arranged. Interest rates are currently exceptionally low.
Because Spain is so attractive to holidaymakers, there’s a robust market for short-term vacation lets. That means you can offset your costs, or even earn a profit.
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Have you visited Benidorm, Torremolinos, or Lloret de Mar, and left unimpressed? These resorts don’t show the other side of Spain. From sun-kissed small coastal villages to towns surrounded by citrus groves, to cities abundant with cultural spaces, if you retire to Spain, you have other options other than the major tourist resorts.
All over Spain, you’ll find friendly neighbours and sunshine, combined with low-cost living.
Where Beach Life and City Life Combine
If you like the thought of having all the amenities and benefits of living in a big city but also want to be near the beach, Malaga, Barcelona, and Valencia are worth your attention.
Because these cities retain their infrastructure and industrial base, they are not totally reliant on tourism, and, therefore, offer a “real” Spanish lifestyle. Especially outside the city centres, there is a feeling of a local tranquil lifestyle, and non-tourist prices to promote it.
Spaniards eat well—the country is famous for its fresh produce, olives, paella, and fresh fish. You’ll find tapas bars all over the country; serving bite-sized appetisers made with local flair and often provided free with a glass of wine or beer. If you retire to Spain and are watching your expenses, you can take advantage of the €10 menus del dia, otherwise, a single course at a middle of the road restaurant plus a drink or two, is not likely to cost more than €15, providing to stay away from the more expensive tourist traps. Fancy a pizza with a glass of wine followed buy a coffee? Expect to enjoy it in attractive surroundings and pay around €12.
Spanish wine is among the best in the world and outstanding value, like the food. Spain is one of the largest wine producers globally and exports more wine than any other country. You can find excellent, locally produced wines in supermarkets for around 4€.
Spain is a golfer’s dream with 345 golf courses and sunshine around 300 days of the year, which makes playing a round much more agreeable. Greens fees at most courses are from €35-€85. Many of these courses have marvellous Mediterranean views.
Spain’s way of life is a big attraction for newcomers who retire to Spain. People living here love to chill out, and the pace is different from other European countries. As per the OECD Better Life Index, Spain ranks highly in the important work-life balance.
The index measures the amount of time when not working spent on personal attention and leisure. Spain is well above the average, as Spaniards dedicate 16 hours of the day to eating, leisure activities, socialising, and sleeping.
In Spain, time is spent enjoying life’s pleasures. Long relaxed meals, evening strolls, and summers spent at the beach are undoubtedly appealing.
Because of the great weather, the Spanish tend to live outdoors, much more so than most other European countries’ citizens. Walking along the street in a Spanish city, you soon see outdoor life as part of the culture. There is a wonderful range of bars and cafes with outdoor seating where locals and tourists enjoy a drink, tapa, or full meal.
Here people like to go out after work for a drink with colleagues or to chat with friends enjoying the long summer evenings. In June and July, it is still light until 10 pm.
The climate and the natural spaces in many regions of Spain offer opportunities for practicing various outdoor sports.
The country is a dream come true for water-sports enthusiasts. You can surf on the Atlantic coast, scuba dive on the Costa Brava, sail around the Balearics, Kayak on the Costa Blanca, or windsurf in Tarifa. Snorkelling facilities are offered in most seaside towns.
Spain’s landscapes include an exciting array of gradients. There are plenty of routes for hikers, mountaineers, mountain bikers, and runners from rolling hills to small mountains.
If you enjoy football, tennis, cycling, team or even winter sports, this is the country for you. The Spanish are passionate sportspeople, and you will find plenty of outdoor activities for all fitness levels and age groups.
Long evening strolls, drinking at outdoor cafes and long days on the beach are all possible thanks to the Spanish climate. With 300 sunny days a year in most regions, Spain has the best climate in Europe. In coastal provinces such as Alicante, Malaga, Castellón, Valencia, the Baleares Islands, Almería, and Murcia, you can take advantage of the sun and sea almost year-round. In the more northern provinces, you will experience the four seasons, but winters are mild.
The Costa Blanca’s unique microclimate is one of the main reasons Northern Europeans find this area so appealing and decide to come here to retire in Spain. Temperatures often increase to above 30 degrees in the summertime, but the sea breeze cools you off. Many overseas citizens come to stay in their Spanish second homes during the winter months. In winter, few tourists are around, but the weather is still warm enough to enjoy the coast’s benefits while saving on substantial heating bills in their home countries.
If you’re worried about healthcare in Spain, there is no sound reason. The Spanish healthcare system has an excellent reputation, with exceptional medical schools. Most expats are thrilled with the level of care they get during a hospital stay or doctor’s appointment.
In the major cities and popular tourist destinations, you are likely to find healthcare every bit as good, if not better, than what you have back home, with attentive care and modern amenities.
A modest €240 a month will comprehensively cover private health-insurance for a couple, and that’s without co-pay and includes basic dental care, as well as emergency treatment abroad.
Spain’s airports are well-managed and modern. The country’s main cities are interlinked with fast motorways, and high-speed trains connect all the major towns and cities around the country. If taking a high-speed train can get from Northern Spain to the South in about six hours.
So, no matter where you decide to settle in Spain, you can easily visit other parts of the country, and the rest of Europe, too.
You can fly directly to the UK from Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante, Girona, Malaga, Murcia, Valencia, Ibiza airports and other smaller airports too.
From the many smaller regional airports, you can fly within Spain and often to other European destinations.
One of the things expats often appreciate most when they move to Spain is they do not need a car to get around. That’s a big change for many UK nationals, where some people practically live in their cars. It is easy to get around Spanish towns on foot or a bike, and in the resort towns like Javea, just about all amenities are within walking distance.
If you do need to catch a local bus to another part of town, most companies charge about 1€ for local trips, and if you are of retirement age, you may be entitled to a free bus pass, depending on the local authorities.
Even before the global 2008, after which Spain suffered a long slow recovery—the country was among the least-expensive in Western Europe and remains so now.
All in all, a couple can live in Spain for around €1,800 a month—and that includes housing, utilities, phone, internet, groceries, eating out a few times a week, healthcare, and transportation.
Of course, your expenses will depend on your priorities. Some people could get by quite comfortably on less—while others would need more. If you retire to central Barcelona or Madrid for example, you will need considerably more due mostly to high housing costs.
It’s not only good value for money that makes Spain worth your consideration. Because something is inexpensive, it doesn’t mean it’s not worthwhile. It’s the vibrant culture, the relaxed lifestyle, and access to a healthy outdoor lifestyle while paying less. That’s what makes Spain such a good option for expats.
There’s nothing as valuable as having someone who has done what you’re considering on hand for advice. We can show you the shortcuts to getting a property whether it is to buy or rent, and save you the trouble of trying to figure it out on your own.
To find out how we can help you retire to Spain without hassle or fuss, contact us.