This month I wanted to share a little about living in Alicante. Or rather, I wanted to ask fellow blogger and Alicante local Sarah about living in Alicante. Sarah is from the UK and is now happily settled with her family in Spain.
Alicante in the Costa Blanca, Spain is popular among Expaters and it’s easy to see why. I’ll pass the baton to my friend Sarah to explain why…
What’s it like living in Alicante? What are the pros and cons of living there? And everything in between… here Sarah shares her impressions of life in the southeastern Spanish city.
Living in Alicante, Spain
What’s it like living in Alicante?
Alicante city is great, obviously busy but a lot quieter than some of the more well known places such as Madrid or Barcelona. There’s a lot of history, so plenty to learn about and explore, as well as amazing beaches.
We live outside of the city, and the whole area is known for the golden sandy beaches and holiday vibe.
It is a big tourist destination so can get a bit hectic in the summer months, but is great for families.
What is it like for families?
Alicante is great for families, you have the beach, the castle, museums and parks which are all free. There are also lots of attractions such as theme parks, water parks, etc a short drive away, and so many places to explore.
There are highly rated fee paying schools, but also plenty of good Spanish state schools which are free to attend.
If you work and pay tax in Spain healthcare is free.
Personally, I think the whole of the Costa Blanca is amazing for families. There’s so much to do and the beaches are some of the best in the country.
What is the best area to live in Alicante?
It all depends on your personal situation, but if you have a family there are so many places outside the city to settle down.
You have both seaside towns and inland villages, depending on how near the beach you want to be.
There are some high expat areas with international schools, or more traditional Spanish villages, where you can integrate with locals.
If you’re moving with families, there are plenty of options, too. If you want a house rather than an apartment but still near the beach, then smaller towns such as Rojales, Benijofar and Ciudad Quesada to the south of Alicante are ideal. San Juan and El Campello to the north of Alicante are lovely seaside towns, but housing is a bit more expensive.
There is a huge expat community on the Costa Blanca, mainly in the areas of Torrevieja, Orihuela Costa and Ciudad Quesada, but really the whole of the Costa Blanca is very high in expats – British as well as Dutch, Belgian, Norweigan etc.
We live in a high expat area which we chose because we thought it would help our daughter settle in school better, which is has.
We do want to look at moving somewhere a bit more ‘Spanish’ when she’s a bit older though as we prefer to experience the culture and lifestyle rather than feeling like we’re living in England but with sun!
That said, there are still plenty of traditional events to attend and the Spanish welcome everyone to join in.
Tell me about the cost of living in Alicante.
Living in the city is expensive when it comes to property, but there are lots of places to choose from on the outskirts.
The nearer the beach you are, the more expensive the cost of living, but you could be 30 minutes away from the beach and buy a house for the same price as a city centre apartment.
As for us, we don’t have private healthcare or pay for schools.
Our family of three can dine out for as little as 35 -40 euros, but obviously it depends where you go. There are lots of tapas restaurants which can be a good deal, plenty of ‘Menu del Dias’ (set menus) for 10-12 euros per person, and paella is around 12 euros per person.
If you go to bars out of the city centre you can get a soft drink for 1.50 euros, a beer for 2 euros, and a coffee for 1 euro. In the city centre you’ll pay double.
What about other nearby cities in Spain?
I don’t know Almeria or Malaga very well, but I think Malaga is quite a bit more expensive when it comes to property.
House prices and general cost of living in Alicante is lower than Valencia, and I think it’s higher in expats living in the area.
Valencia is a beautiful city; it’s very historic, and probably a good choice if you need to find work.
What are the advantages of your life in Spain?
The weather (especially if you come from the UK!) allows you to spend so much time outside throughout the year.
Life is generally more chilled out, it’s a much slower pace to what we were used to and people don’t seem as stressed!
If you have children they get to learn a new language, experience a different culture, and meet people from lots of different backgrounds.
For us personally, cheaper house prices and lower cost of living than the UK have allowed us to enjoy a better lifestyle.
And what are the disadvantages of life in Spain?
The cost of being self-employed is definitely a big disadvantage.
Currently self-employed pay 300 euros a month plus taxes, with the monthly fee set to increase in 2023. This is paid whether you earn or not, but it does cover healthcare. It’s a big expense to find each month.
What are your tips for anyone moving to Alicante or the Costa Blanca?
It’s very hard with visas now for Brits, so you need a lot of savings and to do plenty of research. Most Brits need to come on a non-lucrative visa which means no work allowed.
If you will be working I’d really recommend finding online work you can do remotely. Despite the high fees mentioned above it is worth working for yourself as unemployment is high, so a good idea to sort before you move.
Explore the different areas in Costa Blanca before settling down as there are lots of different towns and communities that will suit various lifestyles.
Make sure you know everything about paying taxes, fees etc before you start to make sure you can afford it. You pay tax in Spain once you live more than 183 days in the country so you will need to know about Spanish tax rules rather than those from your home country.
Is Costa Blanca a good place to live? Is Alicante a good place to live?
We love living on the Costa Blanca, the weather is great, the beaches are amazing, and there is so much to do. Alicante is a great city to have nearby as there’s everything you need without it being too hectic. You also have good transport links to get to other parts of Spain or Europe.
We love it here. We would never go back!
Sarah’s top tips for moving to Alicante, Spain
- Budget wisely and save up before you move
- Research visa restrictions in depth
- Check tax regulations carefully
- Unemployment is high – consider online remote work as an alternative to local work
- Explore the area well before settling on a place to live
For more on moving to Alicante or the Costa Blanca, visit Sarah’s blog at ourspanishadventures.com