The number of British expats living in Spain has more than doubled in the past ten years, according to a report by the Office for National Statistics. Spain has the largest number of UK expats in any foreign country, thanks to the all year round sunshine and more relaxed way of life.


Spain is divided into 17 autonomous territories and the cultures in some of those territories are noticeably different. Before you can get your teeth into a property search, its a good idea to narrow down where youd like to live in Spain; whether youre looking for year-round fiestas or like the idea of access to water sports and walks in the mountains, Spain has something to offer British expats. Weve taken a look at the areas with the highest population of UK expats living in Spain and detailed some of the selling points for each, to help you make an informed decision.

Its worth being open minded and considering areas you might not think of naturally, certain Spanish destinations ring bells when you hear them and the connotations may not all be positive. However, much of Spain has changed a lot since the days of drunken football fans causing mayhem in the street after one too many. Southern and Northern Spain are as different as Truro and Berwick-upon-Tweed, and theres lots of variety to be found in the points between.


Top British expat communities in Spain



Barcelona is constantly changing and while the centre has been modernised a lot, local areas around the City still feel like rural villages which is great for those looking for the best of both. The centre is largely pedestrianised and is also undergoing improvements to make it more bicycle friendly. The Catalan capital is known for its parties and each year towards the end of summer a week long, 24-hour fiesta takes place throughout the city, if you like a thriving night life scene its certainly on offer here. Whether you are looking to rent or move, Sh Barcelona can help you along the way.



Despite what you may have seen on the ITV show, virtually just around the corner from the more touristy spots is the beautiful side of Benidorm a lot of Brits dont hear about. Poniente Beach centres the old town, which is dotted with quaint bars and restaurants and a lot more locals than in the new town. This area is also relatively affordable and has direct links back to the UK, which is great for those taking trips home, or those with family keen to holiday with them. Whether youre looking for a lively night life or a more relaxed setting Benidorm should be a consideration for want-to-be British expats.


Orihuela (Alicante)

Not too far from Benidorm, Orihuela also has direct flights to the UK, affordable properties for sale and a relatively low cost of living. English is commonly spoken due to the fact the British expats make up the largest foreign population here, and there are plenty of activities to keep you busy – there are golf courses a plenty and Spanish dance classes for those looking to learn!


San Fulgencio (Alicante)

Most foreign nationals that move to this area tend to move to the urbanisation a little way away from the small fishing town the area started off as. The local amenities are plentiful, and there is a strong UK expat community in the new area. If youre looking for a more submersive Spanish experience you should consider whether this is the place for you as there are some people who say the two populations, (expats and Spanish citizens) dont integrate all that well, because of the geographic divide and language barriers.


Mijas (Málaga)

There are four distinct areas in Mijas which all have different benefits. From white washed villas, impressive natural views and quiet beaches in Mijas Pueblo, to Las Lagunas which is more commercial and offers a vibrant night life, as well as many shops and bars.


Rojales (Alicante)

According to the latest INE (Instituto Nacional de Estadistica, or Spanish Statistical Office) figures, approximately 75% of people living here are foreign nationals. With seemingly good reason – theres plenty of both English and Spanish bars, restaurants and shops to cater for everyone, and is rich in culture with classically Spanish cave homes to explore with art exhibitions inside, and a museum in the village centre.


Javea (Alicante)

The weather on the Costa Blanca is known to be some of the most reliable in Spain and offers sunny, low humidity days all year round. Regular local markets with plenty of fresh ingredients and delicious wine make for a healthy – and enjoyable – lifestyle! Javea is known for its gorgeous beaches and plethora of outdoor sports on offer, if youre looking to enjoy an outdoorsy lifestyle this could be the place for you.


Benalmádena (Málaga)

Benalmádena has 3 quite distinct areas which makes it a great place to live for British expats who like a bit of variety. Theres the slightly more touristy area close to the beach and the port with newly built residential areas and plenty of local amenities which cater well to foreigners, if you move further inland theres more of a town feel with larger local attractions. Further uphill again and you get to Benalmádena Pueblo, a smaller village with a local community feel and typically Andalusian white washed houses.


Mazarrón (Murcia)

The port in Mazarrón has undergone substantial improvements recently and now offers a plethora of bars and restaurants. 6 of the 33 beaches boast blue flag status and you can try a wide range of water sports. If you’re into outdoor living there’s there’s plenty of hiking and cycling friendly terrain.


Arona (Tenerife)

There are 4 main areas here and they all have something different to offer British expats looking to live in Tenerife, from water activities in Playa de Las Americas to the more cosmopolitan Los Cristianos with plenty of shops and restaurants to keep you entertained.


Of course all of the different areas above come with beautiful weather as standard, so as long as you enjoy the sunshine you’re sure to find the perfect place to hang your hat. There’s a lot of positives about having such a varied country to choose from; if not only the fact that you can justify multiple stops on your property viewing trip!


For more information about the next steps to take once you have an idea of where you’d like to buy, download our Spanish Buying Guide which explains the property purchase process in Spain. From arranging your viewing trip to sending Euros to your Solicitor, we’ve got you covered.



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