The Mediterranean is way more than a sea. It is the universe where cultures and empires have flourished for thousands of years, the cradle of so many traits of the Western civilization. And, well, it tends to produce exquisite landscapes, moderate climates and a beautiful light to enjoy them. From Almería to Gerona, Costa Cálida, Costa Blanca, Costa de Valencia, Costa del Azahar, Costa Dorada, Costa del Garraf and Costa Brava compete together with the Balearic Islands for the attention of thousand of European expatriates who choose this area as their retirement destination.
Valencia –comprised by the provinces of Alicante, Castellón and Valencia– is a main referent for expatriates in Spain: it combines its smooth Mediterranean climate and light with excellent beach towns, tons of History and the city of Valencia, in constant evolution, able to provide all as much culture and entertainment as her bigger sisters, Madrid and Barcelona.
From Torrevieja in the South to Vinaros in the North, almost 400 km of coastline splattered with family oriented beach towns (Santa Pola, Guradamar, Cullera) alternate with picturesque towns that perfectly adjust to the demands of more sophisticated international visitors: Calpe, Altea, Javea, Peñíscola. It´s a diverse mix of expatriates, with retirees preferring quiet coastal places and young families with children settling closer to the services offered around the capitals of Valencia and Alicante.
The renovation of some traditional neighborhoods in Valencia (a gentle sort of gentrification) is generating new interest in international relocations within the metropolitan area. The proximity to the beach, excellent communications, vibrant cultural and gastronomical scenes (Fallas, paella!) add to the traditional lure of this bright, historical city.
The Balearic islands (Mallorca, Menorca, Ibiza, Formentera and other minor ones) are together with the Canaries the closest thing to paradise to be found in Spain. Europeans (and Americans like Michael Douglas, Brad Pitt or Jennifer Anniston) have known this for a while. This may cause some overpopulation at certain times of the year in some places, but the islands still offer plenty of options to escape the noise and the fad while enjoying the same climate and scenery.
Each island has managed to build and maintain a distinctive character. From the scenic diversity of Mallorca, with countless coves and cozy little towns to the cultural and human wilderness of Ibiza, a hippy mecca some decades ago evolved into the paradigm of chill. Menorca and Formentera, have managed to stay more isolated and preserve their spectacular scenery.
The Balearics offers the unparalleled feeling of living in an archipelago in the middle of the Mediterranean while being just a few hours away by ferry from Barcelona or Valencia. Then, of course, if your are into fast means of transportation, Rome is 3.5 hours away, one more than Paris.
The Costa Brava goes from Blanes, 60km north of Barcelona to the French border. Because of its proximity to Europe, it was the first stretch of Spanish coast developed for mass tourism. But the damage was limited to some areas easily avoidable and the current trend gives way greater prominence for the area’s natural beauty and fascinating cultural heritage.
You can distinguish three areas in the coast: La Selva at the southern tip, clustered the medieval walled town of Tossa de Mar; the stylish central area of Baix Empordà between Sant Feliu de Guíxols and Pals, popular with the chic Barcelona crowd, which boasts some wonderfully scenic stretches of rolling coastline around Palamós, the beaches and villages of inland Palafrugell and hill-top Begur.
In the the north, the more rugged Alt Empordà is marked by the broad sweep of the Golf de Roses, site of a nature reserve and the alluring peace of the ancient Greek and Roman settlement of Empúries, and extends to the bohemian Cadaqués, which attracts an arty crowd paying tribute to Salvador Dalí; where he lived most of his life.