Situated on the glistening edge of the Mediterranean in the south of Spain, the Costa del Sol stretches from the unspoilt resort town of Nerja in the east to the city of Málaga and onto the British outpost of Gibraltar in the west. As its name suggests (which translates to the 'Sun Coast'), moving to this region guarantees a warm climate – and an equally warm and welcoming population.
Perhaps best known as a top destination for a summer package holiday, tourists annually flock here to enjoy the long sandy beaches, bars, restaurants and nightlife of resorts in Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Benalmadena. Alongside short-term visitors, foreigners from places such as the United Kingdom, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Germany continue to view the region as their home away from home, with expats relocating to the Costa del Sol to study, work or retire.
The beach resorts make up only a small part of a diverse landscape. Nature-loving expats will embrace opportunities to explore cliffs, dunes, caves and mountain ranges with extensive protected natural parks boasting wildlife and breath-taking scenery. From some vantage points, the Atlas Mountains of Africa can be seen, while windstorms sometimes whip across the region, depositing Saharan sand.
A major plus to moving to the Costa del Sol is its relatively low cost of living compared to cities such as Madrid. Housing and rental prices are generally low and expats can lead an affordable and healthy lifestyle. The striking exception is in what has been dubbed the ‘millionaires’ playground’ of Marbella and Puerto Banús. Here, expats can rub shoulders with the rich and famous, visit designer shops and admire luxury yachts in the beautiful marinas.
Alternatively, expats don’t need to travel far inland to find traditional, rustic Spain, with gorgeous little villages of whitewashed buildings adorned with flowers nestled amongst endless fields of olive, lemon and orange trees; areas with a way of life that hasn’t changed for centuries.
Expats who prefer a cosmopolitan city need look no further than Málaga. The city is home to a busy port and the job market is broad, including tourism, financial services, IT, health and beauty, and hospitality.
Across the Costa del Sol, expats can find modern and comprehensive infrastructure, from extensive public transport networks, including the high-speed train, to world-class private and state-run medical facilities. Families with kids looking for schools can find bilingual academies and English-speaking international schools in the Costa del Sol.
As with any relocation, it's reasonable to admit that moving to the Costa del Sol may present some culture shock. However, while learning Spanish is preferable, in the main towns it is not essential. Additionally, the pace of life is typically Mediterranean, and new arrivals could soon be enjoying the afternoon siesta. The lifestyle may be laid back, perfectly suited to retirees, but fun and entertainment are never far off thanks to a plethora of cultural flamboyant processions and parades, as well as fiestas and parties.
Expats relocating to the Costa to Sol can truly find the best of both worlds: modern facilities and luxuries, but with unspoilt Spanish traditions never far away.
►Get some tips on finding the best place to stay by reading Accommodation in Spain
"I love the relaxed nature of the area. The beach is two minutes down the road and the wonderful mountains are just a ten minute drive in the opposite direction. Everything we need is here and the locals are generally very friendly." Read some expat experiences about the Costa del Sol in our interview with Justin Aldrige.
"The quality of life is second to none. The people, the food, the climate, there are so many things that make living in Málaga an amazing experience." John K offers some useful advice and insights in this expat interview.
Are you an expat living in Costa del Sol?
Expat Arrivals is looking for locals to contribute to this guide, and answer forum questions from others planning their move to Costa del Sol. Please contact us if you'd like to contribute.
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