With excellent weather, a long sandy coastline and a lively social scene, the Costa del Sol in southern Spain is a popular place for expats from around the world.
Formerly an area of small fishing villages, since the mid-20th century the region quickly grew to become one of Spain’s primary tourist destinations for foreign holidaymakers. Although still visited by millions of tourists each year, the Costa del Sol also offers many employment opportunities, with expats relocating overseas to the Andalusia district for work, or starting their own business.
There’s a large migrant community in the Costa del Sol, so you should find the local population are welcoming to expats when you move there
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Where to live in Costa del Sol
Despite the association with summer holidays and tourism, the Costa del Sol is a large area, and the holiday resorts and beaches are only one aspect of it. Whether you are retiring to Spain, or moving with children, there are many options of location if you are moving abroad to the Costa del Sol.
Malaga is the capital of the Costa del Sol region, and has largely remained unspoilt by tourism, despite its local airport. Named as one of the oldest cities in the world, whilst also being an important business centre, Malaga offers historical culture and employment opportunities to expats moving to the Costa del Sol.
Home to La Liga football club, Malaga CF, an annual film festival and a number of museums, Malaga has a range of attractions to suit all tastes.
With many tight, cobbled streets in Malaga, it is important you find an experienced international removal company to provide you with a professional overseas house move to ensure your belongings get to your new Costa del Sol home safely.
The nearby resorts of Torremolinos and Benalmadena, are much more tourist oriented, becoming quite noisy and crowded during the summer months. You should find them to have a large British expatriate population, so are good options if you want to be close to Malaga, but based in an English speaking community.
On the other side of Malaga are the resorts of Rincon de Victoria, Velez Malaga, Nerja, Frigillana, Torrox and Torre del Mar. These resorts are quieter than Torremolinos or Benalmadena and they are slightly more old fashioned, but popular with families, professionals and retirees. Torrox in particularly, which has been named as one of the healthiest towns in Europe.
Perched up in the mountains, Mijas is a typical Andalusian whitewashed village. Mijas has a community feel, which combines authentic Spanish culture with tourist oriented cafes and bars, allowing you to create a traditional life in Spain that retains the comforts of Britain.
This area of the Costa del Sol has a number of golf courses, museums and public gardens to enjoy. The Town Hall in Mijas holds a department dedicated to assisting emigrants to the area, helpful for expats that have decided to make Mijas their home in the Costa del Sol.
Its accessibility and nearby international school makes Mijas is a good option for families looking for a peaceful life in Spain.
Renowned as a more exclusive destination, Marbella is an upmarket location home to many bars, boutique shops and clubs. Such amenities mean that young professionals find Marbella to be a suitable area to call home when moving abroad to the Costa del Sol.
Despite being a very desirable area for British tourists and expats, you’ll still find traditional tapas bars, seafood restaurants, plenty of sangria, so you can still experience a taste of the Spanish life. You should also avoid the ‘Brits abroad’ stereotypical behaviour in classy Marbella.
With almost 30km of beach and a number of golf courses, the laid back lifestyle of Marbella also attracts expat retirees.
For the traditional life in Spain, San Pedro is an excellent option, having avoided the development other Costa del Sol areas have seen and retained many historical landmarks.
Unlike nearby Marbella, you won’t find many boutique stores, but there are still a number of beachside restaurants and tapas bars to enjoy, in addition to nightclubs, salsa bars and drinking establishments. With the pretty beaches and countryside on your doorstep, you’ll not find yourself short of things to do in San Pedro.
It’s an accessible, functional area of the Costa del Sol, with supermarkets, transport links, and an A&E department, so is a good choice for families moving abroad to Spain.
Further from the coast in the mountains, you’ll find the culturally rich Costa del Sol city of Antequera, home to a considerable amount of religious architecture. Its excellent position makes it a popular destination, centrally located between Seville, Granada, Cordoba and only 45km from Malaga, so close by to an airport.
Although a distance from the beach resorts of the Costa del Sol, Antequera does have a good nightlife, with a wide range of bars and restaurants both in the city centre and hidden in the side streets.
Up in the hills there are a variety of small villages, close the coast, but away from the hustle and bustle. If you prefer village life and a more traditional Spanish experience for your house move to the Costa del Sol, there are plenty of places in addition to Antequera worth exploring, such as classical Guaro, rural Gaucin and quaint Casarabonela.
The Costa del Sol has received much investment in recent years, improving the rail links to other parts of Spain.
The Malaga area has trains and buses connecting the city to different local areas. The transport in Costa del Sol is generally quite affordable, and regular travellers can buy travel cards.
The local train in Malaga, the Cercanias, has two lines, C1 going to Fuengirola and C2 going to Alora. The Malaga Cercanias network consists of 24 stations. There is also the Malaga Metro, which currently has two lines, but it is currently being extended.
Malaga and the rest of the coastal districts have a good network of comfortable, modern buses, which connect right along the coast and inland to places like Cordoba and Seville. Buses are the best way to travel between the different areas of the Costa del Sol, and from Malaga they usually run around every 10-15 minutes, depending on the route.
Entertainment in Costa del Sol
There are always plenty of events taking place on the Costa del Sol itself, and if you want to travel a short distance you can visit the towns of Cordoba and Sevilla. The Sierra Nevada is just over 2 hours away from Malaga, so you even have the option of skiing in the winter.
Culture in Costa del Sol
Although renowned for sun, sea and sand, there is a large variety of activities to enjoy in the Costa del Sol. As a district with an extensive history, there’s a vast range of Roman and Islamic architecture to view, in addition to many churches and palaces. Areas such as Malaga and Marbella also have Old Towns to explore.
Cultural activities available in the Costa del Sol include many galleries and museums. As the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, you’ll find the Picasso Museum in Malaga. The Museum of Glass and Crystal is also a popular destination for visitors to the Costa del Sol.
Costa del Sol is famous for golf and there are a lot of hills and mountains to climb, giving you opportunity to get active when you’ve arrived at your new home in Spain.
With the coast spanning the area, it’s a great location for fishing and sailing enthusiasts. In the Costa del Sol you have the best of both worlds, the countryside and the sea.
You can also watch a good level of football here, with Malaga CF, a popular Spanish team, playing at La Rosaleda Stadium.
There are a lot of commercial shopping centres along the coast, with 30 across the Malaga province. For more exclusive designer boutiques as well as high street shops, Marbella is a good place to visit. You’ll also find many local markets across the different towns in the Costa del Sol.
If you’d rather spend a weekend afternoon relaxing in a park, La Concepcion Botanical Gardens is an excellent choice for nature lovers. In Fuengirola, the River Park is a large green area right on the banks of the estuary of the River Fuengirola. With pets permitted, this is a great place to go with the family.
One of the most popular pastimes in the Costa del Sol is, of course, the beach, and you’ll have plenty to choose from when you arrive in Spain.
Nightlife in Costa del Sol
Across the Costa del Sol area, there are restaurants, chiringuitos, bars and nightclubs that could keep you busy every night of the week if you wished. If you want to move to Spain for the nightlife, the Costa del Sol is an ideal location.
You’ll find many British influenced places, especially around the large resort areas, but will still be able to find traditional Spanish establishments, including tapas bars, Spanish seafood restaurants and beachside cafes.
Costa del Sol Property Prices
The average property price throughout Costa del Sol is around €1646 per sqaure meter. However, the prices of property will differ depending on the area.
Marbella is an expensive district of Costa del Sol, with an average property price of €3,500 per square meter in the city centre, and €2,760 outside. If you are planning to make Marbella your home, you should expect to pay a premium. If you plan on renting in Marbella, a 1 bedroom flat in the centre will cost an average of €785 per month, and a 3 bedroom flat €1,528 per month. Outside the city centre, 1 bedroom will be an average of €633 per month, and a 3 bedroom flat €1,100 per month.
In Malaga the average property price is €3,271 per square meter in the city centre, and €2,066 outside. If you plan on renting in Malaga, a 1 bedroom flat in the centre will cost an average of €702 per month, and a 3 bedroom flat €1,234 per month. Outside the city centre, 1 bedroom will be an average of €536 per month, and a 3 bedroom flat €855 per month.
Antequera is a lot cheaper than other regions od Costa del Sol. The average property price is €1,200 per square meter in the city centre, and €800 outside. Rental will also be inexpensive.
Moving with children to Costa del Sol
If you are moving to Spain with children, you'll need to choose a school for them to attend when you arrive. The state Andalusian schools are all run on virtually the same basis. Children begin school the year they turn three years old, they go up to junior school at six and then on to higher education at 12.
There are plenty of independent, English and International schools on the Malaga coast, so you have a choice of where you would like your child to be schooled when you’ve moved to Spain.
If your children go to a state school they will pick up the Spanish language rapidly. If they attend an English or international school, progress may be slower, but within a year your child should have progressed significantly with their Spanish language skills.
Updated: January 2021.