Situated on the glistening edge of the Mediterranean in the south of Spain, the Costa del Sol stretches from the pristine resort town of Nerja in the east to the city of Málaga and onto the British outpost of Gibraltar in the west.
Perhaps best known as a top destination for package holidays, tourists flock here annually to enjoy the sun-soaked beaches, bars, restaurants and nightlife at resorts in Torremolinos, Fuengirola and Benalmadena.
Living in the Costa del Sol as an expat
Alongside the short-term visitors, expats from places such as the UK, Scandinavia, the Netherlands and Germany often relocate to Costa del Sol to study, work or retire.
The beach resorts make up only a small part of a diverse landscape. Nature-loving expats can embrace opportunities to explore cliffs, dunes, caves and mountain ranges with extensive protected natural parks boasting wildlife and breathtaking scenery. From some vantage points, even the Atlas Mountains of Africa can be seen.
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, hospitality, and health and beauty. 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.
As with any relocation, it's reasonable to expect the move to the Costa del Sol to present some culture shock. Having said that, while learning Spanish is useful, it’s not essential in the main towns.
Cost of living in the Costa del Sol
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 usually get by comfortably. The striking exception is 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.
Expat families and children in Costa del Sol
Families with children looking for schools can find bilingual academies, state-sponsored schools and private English-speaking international schools in the Costa del Sol.
Thanks to the abundance of green spaces, zoos, aquariums and speciality museums, there is plenty for expat families to do in the Costa del Sol. BioParc Zoo, Sealife Aquarium and Museo Automovilístico de Málaga are some of the activities the whole family can enjoy.
Climate in the Costa del Sol
As the Costa del Sol’s name suggests (meaning ‘Sun Coast’), moving to this region guarantees a warm climate year round – and an equally warm and welcoming population.
The lifestyle may be laid back, perfectly suited to retirees, but fun and entertainment are never far off thanks to a plethora of 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 the unspoilt Spanish coast and rich traditions to boot.
►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.
Expat Health Insurance
Cigna Global Health Insurance
With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider. Cigna is currently offering a 10% discount for seniors (over 60) on their Silver package.
Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.