After the August post about the Ten Most Expensive Cities to Live in Spain we now follow it with the Ten Best Cities to Live in Spain. They are in no particular order at all but each of them is here because it offers you a lot of bang for your lifestyle buck. There is a small crossover with the other list but there is also a marked difference between the two. Remember here we are looking at what you get out of your life and your purchase rather than how much it costs you. Nevertheless, if a city is expensive it is not as high on the list if it cannot offer a superb lifestyle too.
So here in no particular order are the ten best cities to live in Spain with a little bonus place at the end too.
The hidden jewel of the Mediterranean has it all really, a stunning city beach, comparatively low property prices, a relatively low cost of living and plenty of attractions both within the city itself and in the surrounding areas with a countryside populated by orange, olive and almond groves to enjoy. Like anywhere it has its downsides, the low number of direct flights to the city for example, but the positives far outweigh the negatives and when you you weigh everything up Valencia offers an amazing amount of lifestyle for a pretty meagre price tag.
Often overlooked and lumped in with the Costa Del Sol as a whole, the city of Malaga has a thriving arts scene, a lovely historical old town, a multitude of monuments and museums, great city beaches, an excellent marina and much more. Again price plays its part. Malaga city has affordable property prices on the whole and you are just a short hop away from the beaches and cosmopolitain lifestyle of the Costa del Sol and the hidden beauty of Inland Malaga. One huge advantage that Malaga has over Valencia is ease of access with many more direct flights from all over Europe all year round. Malaga is an ideal base for discovering the whole of Spain.
If you have any doubts about Malaga, have a read of this article by Lisa from SPN and Pedro from @boqueronviajero : Why Malaga is not one of the worst cities in Spain
Segovia I hear you ask, where is that? Well Segovia is just north of Madrid and is as pretty as a picture with fantastic architecture including the amazing Aqueduct, the Alcazar and the huge number of churches. Segovia isn’t the cheapest place on the list but the lifestyle is great, you are just half an hour from skiing in the winter and the city often has a covering of snow itself and you are close to Madrid for those long weekend breaks and flights. Segovia is one of those places that often overlooked for the other places surrounding Madrid such as Toledo and Salamanca is a huge and pleasant surprise.
Our first Asturian entry is Gijón. Now Gijón is on the coast in the centre of Asturias and is known for being the centre of ship building, among its industrial heritage. However Gijón is not a tourist mecca and is relatively unknown to those outside Spain. Gijón is another place with a great city beach, a vibrant old town, amazingly friendly people and some of the best food in Spain (Asturias is known for its huge portions and of course its cider) Gijón will win no awards for its beauty but the countryside of Asturias wins plenty. Called a natural paradise, Asturias is phenomenal, but expect rain.
Known all over the World for the Alhambra Palace and the Generalife Gardens, Granada is overlooked by the towering and usually snow covered peaks of the Sierra Nevada and again is a pretty city with everything required for modern living. Again the gastronomy is excellent and the old town a fine example of how to retain character and ambience in equal measure. To find out more about Granada read the blog by Molly Piccavey here.
A third entry for Andalucia, Córdoba is another huge tourist destination with the Mezquita being the main attraction. However the architecture of the old town with its interior courtyards and whitewashed houses are one of the big things in Córdoba. Traditionally Spanish in outlook, think of Flamenco dresses and music and summer heat and you get an idea of Córdoba.
The second Asturian entry is the capital of the Principality and is a party town due to the numbers of students and the huge popularity of the Sidrer’ia that dot every street of the town. Surrounded by rolling green hills and mountains and backed by the awesome Picos de Europa, Oviedo has a great lifestyle and friendly people without having the tourist numbers of many other cities in Spain. Home to a World Heritage site on the Naranco mountain and in a brilliant position to explore the rest of Asturias and the Northern coast, Oviedo is another hidden jewel for your lifestyle buck.
Home to the Sevillana dresses, white horses and the Feria, Sevilla is the traditional image of Spain made live. If you want your preconceptions about Spain filled then Seville is one of those places that you can do it. However, our fourth Andalucian entry is so much more. Fiery hot in both temperature and character, Sevilla is a beautiful city with fantastic Tapas (Take a look at Sevilla Tapas blog here) and drop dead good looks. Well worth a visit or even more.
Set on the north west coast in Galicia, Vigo is another unknown to most apart from those raised on Laurie Lee’s “As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning” who know that it is where Lee first set foot in Spain to start his trek. Vigo is a great starting point for getting to know the wild and beautiful Galicia. Home to fjords and food, Galicia is everything that Seville isn’t, not the traditional view of Spain at all, but a natural weathered green due to the precipitation so common in both Galicia and Asturias. (Follow Craig’s journey in Galicia here.)
Ok we couldn’t leave Barcelona out of the list. Expensive it may be but Barcelona and the cool vibe that it emits mean that the city is an excellent place to live and visit with plenty going on all year round and ease of access due to its international airport and proximity to France and the rest of Europe. Don’t worry about the Catalan language, it’s not an issue for the majority of people there. Chocker block full of restaurants, museums entertainment and leisure activities and with a lovely city beach, Barcelona is what many other places aspire too but will never arrive at. (Whet your appetite here, with some mouth watering food from Barcelona on Steve’s blog!)
And a bonus for you
Not officially a city but we are including it because it’s our blog and we are allowed to, Gandia is the second Valencian entry in the list. Home to the Borgias, the cruelest Papal family ever, Gandia is known as Madrid’s beach due to the sheer number of Madrileños that trek down to the long sandy beaches of the town every summer. Gandia has a great Marina, is home to the beautiful La Drova mountain range and again is extremely competitively priced. Just 45 minutes from Valencia and an hour from Alicante, Gandia is easily reached and has a relaxed nature that befits a large Mediterranean town.
So we don’t include Madrid and that is mostly a personal preference by me, Graham, because I really don’t like the climate there when allied to the high price and despite being the capital it just doesn’t do it for me. Others will disagree, I certainly hope they do anyway.
We don’t include Alicante, despite the fact that personally I really like it as a city, because the other places deserve their place more and there is no representative of the Spanish Canary Islands or Balearics. If you feel we should be including one of those places then write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your blog post on why your city should be included. We will feature it further down the line if we feel your argument could be persuasive to others.
The big questions are:
- What do you think of our list?
- How does it compare to the Forbes list of the ten most expensive places in Spain?
- Where else should have been included?
We look forward to your responses and are ready to fight our case if challenged … in an informed and educated fashion, of course. 😉