More than 300 000 thousand Britons and close to a 150 000 Germans have chosen to make Spain their home. They are not the only Western Europeans enamored of the lifestyle, the weather and the affordable cost of living. Frenchmen and Italians are also lured by Espania. Here’s why!
The sun shines a lot
Many expats are attracted by sun and sea. The sunniest destination by far is the Costa del Sol in southern Spain, which on average enjoys more than 320 sun-drenched days per year. Top of the list is Malaga, a bustling Andalusian port city that blesses it inhabitants with an average of 3000 sun-filled hours every year.
The others Costas also deliver big time on sunlit days and beautiful beaches. Expats flock to the long white sand expanses of the Costa Blanca in Alicante, the magnificent marine jewel of Valencia and the quaint towns of the Costa Brava in Catalonia.
Life is relaxed
Work life balance in Spain is generally a priority – not because some lifestyle coach has recommended it but because it is ingrained in a culture that celebrates slow living and prizes the gift of existing in the moment.
The Spaniards have elevated the afternoon break to an art. “La siesta” is a time-honored tradition. Big cities such as Barcelona and Madrid may have succumbed to the hectic pace and strident demands of modern life but in the smaller towns people still withdraw into the coolness of their homes and enjoy a power nap after the midday meal.
Spaniards know how to party
The flip side of siesta is fiesta. Not only do the Spaniards know how to take it slow; they also know how to crank up the volume and have a really great party. In fact, Spain has so many festivals it almost seems as though their secular and religious calendars were designed to make sure the inhabitants always have a festival to look forward to.
January sets the pace for the rest of the year with the Three Kings Day, celebrated throughout Spain. Colorful processions and gift-giving give a taste of what is to follow. Saints feature prominently in the festivities – in April Barcelona celebrates St Jordi or St George; in mid-May Madrid pulls out all the stops during the Fiestas de San Isidro; just after the winter solstice San Juan is celebrated throughout the country with bonfires and fireworks and in September it is Barcelona’s turn again when they celebrate their patron saint, La Mercè, with concerts, dancing and impressive human tower-building.
Houses are affordable
Buying an apartment in Spain is not cheap but it will not cost you an arm and a leg, as it does in many other European countries. Apartments in cities such as Barcelona and Madrid are substantially cheaper than apartments in London, Paris or Hamburg, for example. An apartment in the city centre of Barcelona will cost you an average of 4300€ per square meter, in comparison with London where a city-centre apartment will set you back more than 16 000€ per square meter. Paris at close to 10 000€ per square meter may be cheaper than London, but home ownership still costs more double the price of home ownership in central Barcelona.
You can either buy an apartment in overcast Hamburg for 5,180.00 € per square meter or invest in a sunny apartment in Malaga at an average price of 1,700€ per square meter. No wonder the expats are flocking to Spain!
Food and wine are cheap
Who does not enjoy eating and drinking great food and excellent wine at reasonable prices in a sunny country? Enjoying a mid-range restaurant meal in magnificent Malaga is 42% cheaper than having a similar meal in Frankfurt. Sipping a cappuccino on a luminous plaza in Madrid will cost you 40% less than sipping the same cappuccino in leaden London.
Not to mention the wine. In Spain you don’t need to break the bank to enjoy the fruits of the vine; you can savour a sumptuous red from Rioja or let a refreshing Cava go straight to your head without obsessively checking the cash register.