June 26, 2020 No Comments

Where Do All The Foreigners Live in Spain? You’ll Be Surprised!

As a nation, it seems we British are obsessed with moving abroad, and with an estimated 5.5 million UK-born Brits now living in other countries, we lead the pack compared with other equally developed countries. This equates to around 7-8 percent of the nation, which is a huge number when compared with the estimated 0.8% of Americans, 2.1% of Australians and 3% of Spaniards who live abroad.

Spain is the second most desirable location for British expats, coming second to Australia, and narrowly beating the US. The appeal of Australia and the States is likely increased due to UK expats not having problems with a language barrier, but others prefer to deal with this and remain closer to home. For these, Spain, easily accessible from the UK and with an average annual temperature of 14°C compared the UK’s 8.5°C, relatively cheap property prices, and a slower more laid-back lifestyle is naturally a very appealing destination.

So as a Brit, you would immediately think that the Costa Del Sol or the Costa Blanca would be the most densely populated areas for foreigners but…you would be wrong! Murcia surprisingly has the highest % of foreigners to nationals in Spain according to the National Statistical Office

Why?, well we Brits are not the only European foreigners living in Spain, there are also many Germans, Dutch, French and Scandinavians who have chosen the country to escape the gloomier weather of their home countries and embrace a more outdoor-focused lifestyle. Of course, Europeans are not the only immigrants in Spain, in fact, there are 4,419.000 registered foreigners living in the country, of which only 1,925.400 are from EU countries.

The reason Murcia has so many is due to the fact that Murcia in itself does not have concentrated population areas and that many foreigners, especially from countries outside of the EU, go there to work in the agricultural sector. Murcia is known as the “Garden” of Spain.

 So where do all these expats live in Spain?

To help demonstrate the distribution of foreign residents living in Spain, the staff at www.javea.properties have created a map.


As you can see from the map, the Valencian community is one of the most popular regions for migrants. Of the 643,000 foreigners living here, 340,000 are from the EU, and 303,000 hail from non-EU countries.

Neighbouring Cataluña, (which with almost 7.5 million inhabitants is the second most populated region in Spain after the much larger Andalucia) is home to 885,000 foreigners, which equates to 11.9%. Of these, only 255,000 are from the EU, while 630,000 come from outside the European community. Non-EU citizens living in Spain are largely represented by persons born in Morocco, Ecuador, Colombia and China, although this varies very much by region.

Murcia has the highest percentage of migrants on mainland Spain, with 13.8% of the region’s population born outside the country. Murcia has many towns well-liked by UK tourists, including the trendy La Manga on the Costa Calida; however, of the 13.8% expats in Murcia, only 3.6% are from EU member states with the remaining 10.2% coming from non-EU nations.

The Appeal of Spain for EU Members

It is clear and not altogether surprising that EU expats are mostly attracted to Spain’s Mediterranean resorts, with 1,394.602 of the total 1,925.400 choosing the coastal regions of Cataluña, Valencia, Murcia, Andalucía and the Balearic Islands as their adopted home. This equals 72.43%, whereas only 33.6% of all non-EU expats have chosen to live in these coastal areas.

Property prices appear to have little effect on where EU expats choose to live. The cheapest places to buy property tend to be inland, which for many defeats the object of moving to Spain, as the sea and resort life is obviously a big attraction.

Again, not surprisingly, the data shows EU members rate the weather as one of their main reasons for changing countries. Only 113,000 (5.87%) have chosen the Northern coast of Spain for relocation, as although this is a stunningly beautiful area, the average temperature is only 23°C in July and August, and rainy days are extremely common. The incredibly green landscape along this coast, reminiscent to that of Ireland, is a testament to the amount of rain the area receives.

 5 EU Residents Takeaway Points at a Glance

  1. 32% of EU residents choose to live in the Canaries or the Balearic Islands
  2. 63% of EU nationals have opted to live near Madrid or Barcelona, the two most important cities in Spain
  3. The three areas least favoured by EU expats are Melilla, Ceuta and Cantabria
  4. The three most popular regions for EU residents are Cataluña, Valencia and Andalucía
  5. Valencia is the most popular region, with 17.66% of EU expats choosing to live in this delightful part of the world.

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