6 Best Places for a Digital Nomad's Life in Spain
15 min read
There is no question that the recent pandemic in 2020 caused everybody to push technology and remote work to the limit. However, as one of the positive side effects of the dramatic year, everyone realized once and for all that remote work is not only possible, it's doable on a broad scale. And that means for workers that they can essentially work from anywhere doing the same jobs and careers instead of being fixed in a specific career location. For those who've always wanted to move to Spain or are considering the idea of living abroad, the European home of sangria, siestas, and tapas beckons. Here below are the best places to live in Spain.
First off, it has more hospitable and warmer climates than other European and Asia locations. Because it is closer to the equator, especially those areas in the southern part of Spain, the country generally enjoys warmer temperatures, even arid conditions in some areas.
Second, Spain is home to a big ex-pat community of Americans, Britons, Germans, and more, so while Spanish is the primary language, there's a lot of folks living there speaking other languages as well.
Third, Spain is stuffed with history, scenic areas, various geographic locations, and basically something for everyone. That's what makes the country so popular. And it's big too, about the size of Texas, roughly speaking. So, where's a good place for someone to start being entirely outside the country and probably not that hot with fluent Spanish? Below are some of the prime locations that have been international for years but are easily affordable and adjustable today for digital relocations.
Long known as a resort location, Alicante gets a lot of interest from the youth because it has a strong nightclub scene and steady traffic of European visitors. For those who want to be in the thick of the night owl life, Alicante is perfect. For an international flavor, the city attracts a lot of regular visitors from Germany, Russia, and the U.K. year-round.
So, when it comes to accommodation for a foreign-speaking person, the locals are pretty much used to making adjustments or helping out, as long as you're contributing to the local income. Interestingly, however, Alicante has a very enticing combination of a general location while being a coastal town. It has prominent beaches, plenty of harbor and boat action, and there's a good amount of local history with a few castle structures in the immediate area.
Given all the above, one would think that Alicante is a big sea destination. It's not. The city is actually a small one, with only about 330,000 residents in it. Most folks just get around by walking in the city center because everything is so compact and close. For rent and the cost for a place to live, Alicante gets high points for affordability, far better than Spain's bigger cities, which is surprising given its coastal location. For safety, the coastal town does extremely well, a prime attraction for remote workers who want a quieter style of living but still have access to the nightlife too.
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When people first think of Spain without having been there, they usually think of Barcelona first. It's one of Spain's biggest cities, the mistaken capital of the country for those who don't know Spain well, and probably the most well-referenced location internationally. It's also a major travel hub for the country and a location steeped in old history, politics, and culture. Modern city life is stuffed with edge art, urban intensity, and packed living conditions, depending on which neighborhood one is located. It's a good guess that half the city's inhabitants are from somewhere outside of Spain.
A key factor for many who work electronically, Barcelona is a significant hub for Spain's tech industry, and small businesses move fast-forward at lightning speed. There's a lot of demand for cutting-edge talent. Combined with the location, Barcelona has become extremely attractive for folks looking for a better life off the U.S. path but still heavily involved in tech in general. Accommodations are not cheap in Barcelona, but they are not the most expensive. A typical apartment from a small studio to a flat will range from 790 Euros to 1,130 Euros a month.
Many transplants have chosen Barcelona because it has a younger generation per square mile than most other locations in the country and is a hub of universities and art clusters. Whether it's college studies, music, fine art, style, fashion, or business, Barcelona has attracted folks from all types of backgrounds and are in their 20s and 30s. And the city's neighborhoods encourage even more all the time, with esoteric and unique displays of color, celebrations, food, and daily life. The fact that there are so many young people in Barcelona itself makes it a prime location for other young types to relocate, often finding many resources that accommodate folks on a budget and willing to be flexible in living accommodations with studios versus full flats. Recreation-wise, Barcelona is coastal, enjoying, like other locations in the country, its share of prime beaches in close proximity to the city itself.
The temperature in the area often stays warm, and even the winters are mild. In social terms, Barcelona has a well-known reputation for being an international hub and the city that connects people. Many couples and life-long friends have connected in the Spanish city, often when studying classes or just starting out in their careers. As a result, remote digital workers will find that the location is ideal for networking as well as leveraging contacts for new career options and jobs all the time.
Safety-wise, while Spain has had a reputation for its big cities and train stations being rife with theft, Barcelona actually ranks as one of the best cities to live in on the continent. The Spanish city easily outpaces many of the far bigger European cities in safety metrics, and it only has a handful of neighborhoods people avoid at night.
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Famous in history for its long-lasting bastion of the Moors, Granada is an architect's dream. Tons of only buildings, designs, and structures dating back centuries call the city home. In addition, Granada includes the Alhambra, which is one of Spain's most famous fortress complexes. Granada is an easy place for visitors or locals to get lost in just wandering around and taking in the sights. Those relocating to this city will enjoy the warmer climates of southern Spain and a rich clash of heritage because of the old Catholic quarter and the former Moors' influence on life, design, architecture, and imagery.
Again, similar to some other locations, Granada itself is not a big town. The total population only reaches about 250,000, and many of the locals are British in origin. No surprise, Granada has long been a destination in Spain for English-speaking transplants and retirees.
Another big advantage of Granada is its close proximity to the local mountains. It is with a view with the range of the Sierra Nevada, which provides locals a great region for hiking, alpine driving, wilderness camping, and a lot more in the outdoors. No surprise, the city residents are big on recreation, being able to take advantage of so much nearby.
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Unlike Barcelona above, Madrid is the real capital of Spain and a major hub of business, politics, tech, university research, fashion, and finance. No surprise, Madrid has been a favored choice for tech workers who want to work with big companies or major projects or feel a need to stay connected internationally with industry. The city is incredibly developed and ideal for any remote worker expecting modern amenities, including high-speed Internet and similar resources.
Madrid is well known for a variety of restaurants and amazing food choices, many being quite affordable. The nightlife is ongoing and heavy; most folks stay out the entire night and plan an early breakfast before calling it quits. The lifestyle is relaxed, low-pressure, and easy, which is a paradox for a major capital city in Europe.
And, finally, Madrid is the biggest city in Spain with a modern public transport system to boot, so it's incredibly easy to get around and navigate. In short, it is everything an ex-pat would want in a big city feel living in Europe for half the price of London. The cost of living in Madrid is on par with its other famous cities. The rental cost is not the most discounted, ranging from a studio at 780 Euros a month to a flat at 1,150 Euros, but it's not outrageous either. Anyone with a decent income will find a very comfortable place to live in Madrid and even better outside the city. Madrid puts other cities to shame in terms of personal safety and ranks extremely high among Europe's capital cities in the metrics.
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Again, coastal towns tend to be the allure of Spain, and Malaga is no exception. Sitting near Costa Del Sol, Malaga has long been a target for historians, retirees, ex-pats, and those who just want a relaxing location to call home or at least a summer location for a few months. Remote working there is attractive for many because it's got a strong international community, a thriving network for startups, and a lot of interaction with different groups. Malaga gets an amazing amount of sun, hot and bright.
The coast average is at least 320 days of mostly sun, if not always sun, right into the winter. Again, it's an ideal location for recuperation, retirees, and folks who are just sick to death from the snow and cold. Even more interesting, Malaga is right on the regional coast of Africa's northern range. That makes it ideal for short-range exploration and travel to the southern continent without a big production, something adventurous, remote types might like along. Easy travel by port and boat can produce lots of weekend and short excursions with a home base in Malaga.
Malaga has a double-win of being far lower in cost of living and rent for a place to live and an extremely high rating for personal safety. A lot of this wonderful match has to do with the fact that the city isn't such a big target for younger generations and has a bit more of a mature attitude towards life in general for most of the population. The overall mix makes Malaga one of the cheapest places to live in Spain that's attractive too.
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Heavy with the music and richness of old Spain, Seville has long been a destination for writers, painters, and dancers. Living and working in Seville, however, is far more practical. The food is excellent, everyone loves to dance well into the night, flamenco is rich here, and relaxation is a national pastime. Between the wine, the people, and the arts, Seville wins a lot of folks over who are looking for a location to keep working but wind down and enjoy the rewards of their hard work career-wise and still enjoy what matters in life. It is one of the best places to live in Spain from a "later in life" perspective.
For the most part, safety in Seville is high, and violent crime rarely happens. However, due to the high traffic of tourists, pickpockets and petty theft can be annoying issues. A bit of personal attention and awareness though avoids this problem, especially off the tourism path.
Rent in Seville can be extremely affordable, with almost under 300 Euros a month for a very small studio. Still, the more reasonable apartment or family flat will be higher, in the range of 800 to 1200 Euros a month for a basic cost of living.
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