Where is the largest English expat community in Spain?

Marbella, Costa del Sol. Image- Alex Tihonovs/Shutterstock

Millions of people have moved from their home countries to start a new life in beautiful sunny Spain. Depending on the type of lifestyle you want to have, whether you prefer rural living or beach life, your level of Spanish, and the need to be close to amenities, Spain has somewhere to suit everyone.

But where is the largest English expat community in Spain and why?

The Costa del Sol – The largest English expat community in Spain

According to statistics collected at the end of 2022 and the beginning of this year by Statista, the coastal regions of Andalucia along the Costa del Sol have the highest number of British expats, with 92,180 Brits making this sunny southern area their home in 2022. The Costa del Sol has had a high concentration of Brits for many years and lots of English expats live in the many beautiful towns and cities along this coast.

This 60 miles of the south coast, nicknamed the coast of sun, has gained international recognition due to the different ethnicities of tourists who visit each year. This Costa is home to several well-known and popular towns and cities, including Marbella, Nerja, Torrox, Torremolinos, and Malaga. Although tourism slows in the winter, the region remains active all year, making it an ideal and popular choice for British expats seeking sun, sand and Spanish culture.

The Costa del Sol promises 320 days of sunshine, making it a firm favourite with those living in colder areas. This makes it a great location to enjoy a more outdoor lifestyle, with plenty of beach bars, parks, beaches, bars and marinas to make use of. For families, the Costa del Sol has brilliant education services and schools as well as wonderful healthcare facilities including Malaga Hospital.

For single people and couples, the Costa del Sol is home to some of the best bars, restaurants and cafes in Spain. Many of the villages and towns offer a slower pace of life, while cities like Malaga offer plenty of opportunities for work, activities, sightseeing and travel. The Costa del Sol is also very popular with retirees looking for sunshine, beautiful places to walk and explore, plenty of historical sights and community groups to join.

This area has some of the most prestigious locations to live in Europe, such as Puerto Banus, Nueva Andalucia, Sotogrande and Estepona.

Torremolinos. Image: nito/Shutterstock.com

More areas in Spain with large English expat communities

Expats from various countries make up 12.8 per cent of Spain’s total population and Spain is currently one of the world’s most popular immigration destinations, ranking fourth in Europe in terms of immigration statistics.

It’s not an easy feat to decipher which location and region in Spain has the largest communities of expats, and it must be taken into account that many expats of the same nationality tend to gather in certain places. For example, lots of Americans live in Madrid while many English expats group together on the Costa Del Sol, Costa Brava, and Alicante.

Overall, the number of British citizens that live in Spain was slightly over 293,171 as of January 2022. If you are a would-be expat from the UK looking to start a new life in Spain, you may be wondering where you should reside in order to make the most of everything this beautiful country has to offer and which region has the largest British expat community to make friends and connections.

Alicante and the Costa Blanca

Brits and Germans in particular love the Costa Blanca! Alicante, in the heart of the Costa Blanca, is known for its miles of clean sandy beaches, high-quality restaurants, great schools and plenty of activities to enjoy. It also has fabulous flight connections to the UK, so it’s no surprise that this region is thought to house the largest proportion of foreign expats in Spain and a huge British expat community.

According to Idealista: “Torrevieja, Benidorm, Orihuela, and Calpe are the most popular districts in Alicante for British expats, and many families opt to live here since there are numerous international schools”.

largest british expat communities spain
Cabo Roig, Alicante. Image – Alex Tihonovs/shutterstock

The Costa Brava

The Costa Brava has a Mediterranean climate, with hot and sometimes humid summers, warm autumn and spring months when most of the rain falls, and temperate winters. The weather, along with its ease of access by train, outdoor lifestyle and wonderful restaurants make the Costa Brava a very popular location for retirees as well as families.

The Costa Brava is part of Catalonia, so you’ll find that Catalan is spoken among the locals, rather than Spanish. However, many people also speak English and French.

In the south, Blanes, Lloret de Mar and Tossa de Mar are well-known tourist spots that have been popular since the 1960s. The northern Costa Brava is known as the Emporda, and it is divided into two sections: Alt Emporda and Baix Emporda (upper and lower Emporda).

From Sant Feliu de Guixols in the south to Roses in the north, the coastline is one of the most beautiful in Spain, with towering jagged rocks concealing small inlets and bays of clean water.

biggest english expat community spain
Calella de Palafrugell, Colsta Brava. Image – Boris Stroujko

Mallorca and the Balearic Islands

While the party scene in Magaluf and Ibiza has given the Balearic Islands a bad rep, it’s safe to say that Mallorca, Menorca, and Ibiza have much more to offer expats seeking for a new life in Spain. According to the National Institute of Statistics of Spain, there were 219,684 non-Spaniards living on the archipelago in 2019, accounting for 18 per cent of the population.

Mallorca is the most popular Balearic Island for expats, and while knowing some Spanish is always advantageous, it’s pretty easy to obtain professional services in English on the island, such as English-speaking doctors. Mallorca is also a popular alternative for British expats due to the low cost of flights to and from the UK, and while the island is known for being pricey, you may still discover affordable property in Mallorca by looking outside of the main tourist districts.

largest english expat communities
Palma, Mallorca. Image – Romas_Photo/shutterstock


Spain is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful, well-connected and sunny places to live in Europe. Each region has its own authentic traditions and quirks, with plenty of activities and coastlines to enjoy. But for those looking for the answer to the largest English expat community in Spain, the Costa del Sol tops the list!

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Written by

Laura Kemp

Originally from UK, Laura is based in Axarquia and is a writer for the Euro Weekly News covering news and features. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at editorial@euroweeklynews.com.