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Defining a ‘best’ place to live is quite subjective and depends a lot on people’s personal preferences, lifestyle requirements, budget, family status, work status, etc.
That said, there is largely agreement when it comes to a pleasant sunny climate, beautiful scenery and geography, a vibrant culture, a wide selection of outdoor activities, a fair cost of living, good economic activity and work opportunities, sufficient transportation infrastructure, access to professional services and amenities, and good education centres.

I believe a happy healthy lifestyle is the number one priority for foreigners and expats when choosing a place to live in Spain, and certainly when looking to buy a property.
Here are our top 10 recommendations for your new home in Spain.

9. Costa de la Luz: Conil de la Frontera, Playa de la Barrosa, and Novo Sancti Petri.

The coastline that stretches from Tarifa to Cadiz city, is one of the lesser known in Spain and is also one of the most beautiful. Virgin white sandy beaches are what awaits, combined with the ultimate relaxed lifestyle. The climate is extremely favourable, with fresh clean air from the Atlantic, and summers and winters that are never too hot or too cold.
This is also a golfer’s paradise with several golf courses within 5 minutes of one another, and others in Puerto de Santa María, Benalup, Jerez de la Frontera, Rota, and Chipiona.
The best areas for purchasing a property are near Barrosa beach, and in and around the town of Conil de la Frontera.
Interesting fact: You find a lot of towns that end with ‘de la Frontera’ (‘on the border’) in the region. These were actually border towns that marked the end of the Christian kingdoms and the start of the Muslim ruler’s territory towards the end of the reconquest of Spain.

8. Nerja, Costa del Sol.

This little ‘hidden’ gem is one of Andalucia’s best-kept secrets. It occupies a spectacular part of the coastline with promontories and cliffs running into the sparkling blue Mediterranean waters while hiding beautiful secluded white sandy beaches.
This is one of the more privileged lifestyles on the Costa del Sol, with less of the hustle and bustle of the Marbella side, and more of a sense of community. It has excellent access to both Malaga and Granada and enjoys a stunning climate.
The nearby beautiful white village of Frigiliana also offers some interesting real estate for sale which is a bit easier on the budget.

7. Mojacar, Almeria Province, Andalucia.

This white Andalucian village stands out like an oasis on a hilltop in the stark Almerian landscape. Three of the best years of our life was spent here with close friends while also taking full advantage of the hauntingly beautiful coastline, beaches, natural parks, and mountain ranges.
A small and remote area in comparison to what you can find in the Costa del Sol, and Costa Blanca, but it lacks for nothing in terms of fiestas and cultural activities.
The year round chiringuito (beach bars) culture is the best in Spain (we say this with confidence) with El Palmar and Conil (Cadiz Province) a close second.
The area is a bit isolated and does not have the economic infrastructure of the Costa Blanca in the North, so you will always need to take that into consideration.
There are some gorgeous classic Spanish villas for sale in La Parrata, while the nearby inland village of Turre offers more spacious apartments at a better budget.

6. Orihuela Costa, Southern Costa Blanca, Alicante Province.

The Southern Costa Blanca, and in particular Orihuela Costa, is very popular with Northern Europeans and especially residents from the UK, Netherlands, Belgium, Germany, and France.

The area offers a quality lifestyle and an abundance of leisure activities
. There are many professional services and amenities available in the coastal villages and also in Torrevieja City.
The most popular coastal villages are Cabo Roig, Punta Prima, La Zenia, Playa Flamenca, and Campoamor.

Probably the best value properties for sale are 5km inland in and around the village of San Miguel de Salinas, while you can find some stunning newly built villas, duplexes, and apartments for sale in the nearby golf developments.
Orihuela Costa is conveniently near both Murcia and Alicante airports and offers a well-connected infrastructure.

ImmoSage offers a free introduction service for buyers & sellers looking to work with the top local real estate agents throughout the Costa Blanca.

5. Spain’s Best Cities

Spain’s main cities are varied and offer a very diverse lifestyle. That said, if your Spanish is not at a good standard then it will limit your employment options. In that case, you may want to consider the coastal areas we mention in this article all have a much higher percentage of spoken English, and communities of Dutch, Belgian, German, and French.

Sevilla is where everybody wants to live, just not in July and August – it gets really hot. It’s arguably the most fun city in all of Spain and probably the easiest to make friends. It’s absolutely stunning by day, and even more spectacular by night, and you are only an hour’s drive from the coast, where you will definitely want to be in July and August.

Madrid and, in particular, the areas around the huge Parque de El Retiro (the green lungs of the city) – Retiro, Ibiza, Salamanca, and Pacifico. From these residential areas, you are an easy walk or cycle from the centre with Retiro Park in the middle. Madrid’s historical centre is safe, always vibrant, and offers a wealth of entertainment options. Considering it’s a large city, we find the people of Madrid to be friendly and very helpful.
Madrid or Barcelona? Madrid any day of the week, plus Sundays.
Best places to buy property in Madrid? Pacifico is an excellent area to invest where property prices are lower than in surrounding areas. It’s near the main train station, Atocha, and also near Retiro Park and the city centre. If you are looking for a home or an investment then these areas offer year-round occupancy.

Alicante City (and I expand upon this in point 4 below) offers a remarkable and affordable lifestyle and is where I believe you will find the best long-term investment real estate in a Spanish city.

Valencia City is another coastal Spanish city that offers a privileged Mediterranean lifestyle and a property market that is arguably undervalued. Its magnificent historical centre is rivalled only by Barcelona, Madrid, and Seville. The city is internationally famous for its cuisine and vibrant culture. There is a strong international community consisting of expats, students, international nomads, and remote workers.
The transport infrastructure is excellent and includes high-speed trains to Madrid and Barcelona.

4. Alicante City Historical Centre.

One of my favourite Spanish cities, and certainly one of the most underrated Spanish city centres. Everything is conveniently within reach and it’s located right by the sea.
You have a spectacular climate, a good infrastructure, professional services, fantastic amenities, and surprisingly economical real estate.
So to put things into perspective, Alicante city offers a communications and services infrastructure that can compete with Central and Northern European cities, offers a privileged lifestyle on the Mediterranean, and yet has some of the most affordable city centre real estate in all of Europe.
If you are looking to invest in property in Spain then you would do well to place Alicante city in your Top areas. Consider apartments to refurbish in the historical centre, and townhouses in Barrio Santa Cruz.
We discuss Alicante City in more detail in Buying Property on the Costa Blanca for Expats and Foreigners.

3. Playa San Juan, Alicante City.

Located just 5km North East of Alicante city centre this relatively unknown (among expats and foreigners) residential area offers a few advantages over the more popularised urban residential areas of the Costa del Sol like Benalmádena, Torremolinos, Fuengirola, Marbella, etc.

What comes to mind is the scene from Crocodile Dundee when Pual Hogan says “That’s not a knife, that’s a knife!”, except he might say, “That’s not a beach, that’s a beach!”.
The beach of Playa San Juan and its residents are in fact the originators of the Noche de San Juan festival, where you will see bonfires and celebrations on the beaches of Spain (mostly Andalucia, Murcia, and Alicante) on the night of June the 23rd.
The enormous wide golden sandy beach and its beautiful promenade stretch for 10 km all the way to Campello port. Most of the way the beach is more than 50m wide and at some points, you have 100m of beautiful sandy beach from the promenade to the water’s edge!

There are all manners of sports and hobbies taking place throughout the year including volleyball, yoga, surfing, beach football, gyms, exercise classes, lifeguard competitions, triathlons, marathons, you name it. This is truly an area where the beach is the protagonist.

There are high-rise buildings along the shore and into the residential areas, however with the openness of the area and the space between the buildings you never get that closed-in feeling that you do in some areas of the Costa del Sol.
The adjective I would use is ‘tasteful’. And this includes both the architecture and the approach to life. The area is very central and very well connected with the city centre.

There is no shortage of professional services and amenities, and the infrastructure is excellent. From Alicante city, there are fast train connections to both Madrid and Barcelona, and the free AP-7 highway connects you with two International Airports: Alicante and Valencia.

Real Estate is not cheap in comparison with other coastal areas of Southern Spain, however, you are benefiting from a quality lifestyle and all the conveniences and professional services that come with a modern infrastructure.
The real estate offering is mostly apartments for sale, with some duplexes and triplexes, however in areas like Muchavista, Vistahermosa, and Cabo de las Huertas, you can also find freestanding villas for sale.

2. The bay of Altea

Altea is a whitewashed hilltop village like those you find in Andalucia. It is extraordinarily beautiful, rich in culture, and offers magnificent views of the surrounding mountains and the clear blue waters of the Mediterranean.
It has a strong Spanish and expat community and is popular with Brits, French, Belgians, Dutch, and Germans. The Altea town itself is divided between the hilltop village and the residential and commercial area hugging the coastline.

The other strong communities in the bay area are Altea la Vella, Albir, Alfaz del Pi, La Nucia, Polop, and Callosa d’en Sarria, which is about 9km inland.

The Altea bay area offers a fantastic lifestyle rich in activities and entertainment. Due to its’ popularity with professional sportsmen, sportswomen, and teams from throughout Europe (many professionals and teams host winter training camps here), the area’s municipalities have invested heavily in sports infrastructure.
Whatever you can think of, there will be a facility for it, from skateboarding to rock climbing, rhythmic gymnastics to taekwondo, and BMX to parcour. Seriously, if you enjoy hobbies and sports then look no further. Have at look at La Nucia’s ciudad del sports and Altea’s palau desportes.

Due to the proximity of all the villages, and Benidorm, there is always something new to experience and discover. There is an excellent selection of public and private schools, and the area offers a fairly robust economy, which is also boosted by its proximity to Benidorm.

The property market is one of the strongest in Spain however there are still economic options to be found. Village houses in Altea hilltop ooze charm and if you can find something for sale then you may want to consider renovating it as a holiday home. Albir and Alfaz offer beautiful classic and modern villas for sale, while La Nucia and Polop, a little inland, offer more space for your budget. Finally, Callosa d’en Sarria is where you will get the most square meters for your Euros, given that it’s 9km inland.

1. The Northern tip of the Costa Blanca: Moraira, Javea, Denia.

Warning! Once you have visited these areas it will be difficult to want to live anywhere else in Spain!

The area offers an excellent balance of work and lifestyle
(or just lifestyle if you are fortunate enough) and attracts people from a diverse range of backgrounds.
The region boasts a robust economy, spectacular natural beauty, a beautiful and dramatic coastline of coves, cliffs, and cozy beaches, diverse outdoor activities, a high standard of professional services (including healthcare, schooling, banking, legal, design, etc.), a strong international community, a pleasant climate for all seasons, charming architectural heritage, a rich and diverse food culture, and an unbeatable lifestyle (think Ibiza but less expensive).

You are within easy reach of both Valencia and Alicante international airports, where you can also find high-speed rail connections to Madrid and Barcelona.
The free AP-7 highway takes you to beautiful surrounding villages in minutes, including the Jalon Valley, which is one of the most beautiful wine-producing regions in all of Spain.

Entertainment and leisure activities are available in bucket loads, and because the areas of Northern Costa Blanca are all relatively close to one another, you feel more like a citizen of the Costa Blanca rather than one particular town or village. Not to forget, Denia also offers access via comfortable modern ferries to Ibiza and Mallorca.

Perhaps the strongest property market in all of Costa Blanca, the areas of Moraira and Javea also has the highest median property price.
So where do you find the best real estate investments? Look for townhouses for sale in Javea and Denia historic centres that you can renovate. In Denia, you want to be as close to the port as possible. There is a great demand for old classic-style villas for sale. European investors are looking for properties with sea views, or at least spectacular hillside and greenery views, which they can renovate and then resell or offer as holiday accommodation.
For more space for your Euro the inland villages of Benissa, Benitachell, Pegreguer, Ondara, and Gata de Gorgos, are all seeing more interest due to the overflow in demand from Moraira, Javea, and Denia.
For more information see our article: TOP 9 places to buy or invest in property on the Costa Blanca for Expats and Foreigners.