Why Spain is one of the top countries for expats


In 2019, HSBC’s Expat Explorer Survey placed Spain 4th in the world when it came to expat happiness, health, and overall wellbeing. In fact, a staggering 83% of expats living in Spain who participated in the survey said that their quality of life had improved.

There were three key criteria that helped to establish Spain’s competitive ranking; personal safety, the weather and quality of life. Expats reported that these were instrumental in improving both their physical and mental wellbeing.

Let’s take a look at these factors, alongside some other important considerations for expats, in more detail…

Personal safety

Spain is one of the safest European countries to live in, and is actually in the top 10% of the safest countries in the world!

There is very little serious crime (75% less than the US experiences), and even at night, the streets are generally safe. The most common crimes are small, petty thefts which usually take place in Spain’s busier cities such as Madrid or Barcelona. So long as you keep your valuables concealed and secure, you have little reason to be concerned.

For the vast majority of people who live in Spain, worrying about safety really does go to the back of their mind, with most never even feeling remotely threatened or unsafe.

The weather

Spain’s climate has been described by the World Health Organisation as ‘as near-perfect a climate as is possible’, and they’re not over-selling it!

The Mediterranean climate, in general, features hot, sunny dry summers, and mild to warm, sunny, dry winters. If rain is experienced, it’s typically infrequent and more common the further north you head. You’ll also experience cooler winters in the country’s northern coastal cities such as Barcelona or Bilbao.

The abundance of sunshine you’ll experience as an expat in Spain gives your body a huge vitamin D boost, which can lead to less prevalent health conditions such as certain cancers, heart disease, depression and chronic pain. Additionally, studies have shown that the heat of the sun affects endorphin release, leading to an increase in the natural chemicals that make us feel relaxed and happy!

You can read more about the health benefits for expats in Spain below, but putting this aside, there really is nothing better than soaking up the sun all year round in your own Spanish property. Whether you’re enjoying time in your garden or on your balcony, visiting Spain’s famous Blue Flag beaches, or are exploring the vast countryside, the weather truly is idyllic.

Quality of life

Although Spain’s famous siestas may not be commonplace in all regions of Spain today, later work start times, longer lunch breaks, and more annual leave are to be expected. This workplace flexibility is typical of the country’s overall relaxed nature, allowing expats to benefit from a noticeably enhanced work-life balance.

Add to this the low living costs, access to fantastic fresh, affordable foods, rich history and culture, and the already established expat communities, it is no wonder that Spain ranks so highly for quality of life.

A number of the expats surveyed reported “feeling better in both body and mind as a result of living there”. Even more impressively, out of any country, Spain’s expats were the most likely to say that their mental wellbeing had improved as a direct result of living in Spain. Learn more about the health and wellbeing benefits of moving to Spain in our next point.

Health benefits and healthcare

We’ve touched on it before, but the health benefits of living in Spain really cannot be underestimated. Due to its ‘near-perfect’ climate, relaxed lifestyle, and access to the best fresh foods, living in Spain can have a number of surprising effects on your health, including (but by no means limited to):

  • Better circulation – cold weather impacts the way blood flows around the body, increasing the risk of heart-related illnesses. The consistently warm weather of Spain, on the other hand, does wonders for the cardiovascular system.
  • Arthritis and asthma – as acknowledged by the World Health Organisation, Spain’s climate can provide near-miraculous cures for those suffering from either condition.
  • Longer life expectancy – people living in Spain are predicted to have the longest life expectancy in the world by 2040, largely down to the way that the Spanish eat!

There are many more benefits that you can read about in our article on the surprising health benefits of living in Spain.

These health benefits are all well and good, but what happens if you do fall ill? Ensuring that healthcare is adequate can be a huge factor for many expats, particularly those looking to settle down and retire in their chosen destination.

Luckily, Spain’s healthcare system is very good. They have a public healthcare system (the SNS) that is accessible for anyone with a Spanish social security number. Expats who qualify generally pay around 25% of their treatment costs, as well as some prescription charges. There are also excellent private healthcare facilities if you would prefer. Either way, medical staff are well-trained and most speak English fluently so you have little need to worry if you do become unwell and need medical assistance.


There’s no question that Spain’s tourism industry is booming. More than 80 million holidaymakers choose Spain as their destination of choice, meaning that there are plenty of career prospects on offer.

Although, in general, salaries in Spain can tend to be lower than those we might earn in the UK, this is offset by the affordable property prices and reduced living costs (you can expect both your utility and food bills to be dramatically decreased!).

At the end of the day, it’s down to personal aspirations. If a high-flying, top percentile salary career is your goal, Spain might not be the country for you. However, if your aspirations focus on work-life balance, and a more happy, healthy, comfortable lifestyle, then there’s no competition for Spain.

Choosing to move to Spain

If our article has enlightened you on some of the benefits of living in Spain for expats, and has perhaps encouraged you to start exploring this option, why not speak to one of our advisors? Our UK-based, Spanish property experts can advise you on all aspects of the buying in Spain process. Call us today on 01202 971614, or fill in our contact form.

Whether you’re just looking for more information, or would like to start your buying journey by booking one of our £99 Spanish property viewing trips, our friendly team would be happy to assist..