The next area to explore in our location spotlight series is the dazzling Costa Blanca, named after its 200km of brilliant white beaches and bright, year-round sunshine. The coastline is cherished by the community, and so well maintained that many beaches hold Blue Flag status.
Towards the north, there are plenty of rugged coves and out-of-the-way bays to explore. To the south, lies the palm tree-lined Orihuela Costa, where salt flats define the landscape. Most beaches, though, are long, wide sweeps of sand edged with the lapping waves of shallow waters.
The Costa Blanca was an important defence line for mainland Spain against invasions by everyone from the Romans to the Moors. As a result, there are centuries worth of fortresses and monuments to visit. The rich tradition blends with the contemporary since modern tourism began swelling the population in the 1950s, with great roads, transport, city amenities and up-to-date facilities.
The city of Benidorm was built on this influx of tourists; it’s the birthplace of the package holiday and the first city to allow bikinis to be donned on its beaches. Love it or hate it, Benidorm has masses of entertainment to offer — from nightclubs to waterparks — and plays host to a truly diverse, international crowd.
The Costa Blanca is the most popular Spanish coastline for expats, but they tend to settle away from the throngs of tourists. Towns like Torrevieja, Villamartin and Cuidad Quesada were developed specifically to home these new settlers. They don’t have highrise hotels offering package holiday deals. Instead, they are carefully planned urbanisations that offer a sense of security and community to newcomers. Our Podcast interviewees Peter and his wife Sharon explain what it was like buying their property in Villamartin, from which they enjoy exploring the surrounding area.
Towards the north, the towns that keep their Spanish character remain popular with property buyers. Denia, for example, is a busy port town with a large proportion of Spanish residents and a rich cultural history, and the town of Pego is the fiesta capital of the region, with traditional events hosted every month. The L9 tram links Benidorm to all the major resorts up as far as Calpe making travel from Alicante airport both easy and affordable.
The Costa Blanca is well served by Alicante airport at the centre, Valencia airport to the north and Murcia airport to the south.
Who lives there?
House prices in the Costa Blanca average around €215,000 which is about 15% cheaper than the rest of Spain. In the south, that average drops down to €130,000 euros, which is a full 40% cheaper than the national average.
Overall, this is the most popular Costa for expats with 50% of properties sold to international buyers. UK buyers make up the bulk of these purchases, with the rest coming from France, Germany, The Netherlands and Scandinavia in the main.
Why do they come?
Although it was originally the tourists who drove the development of the international culture in the Costa Blanca, it’s the expats who have really made their mark. You’ll find pre-1950s homes rarer because of this. Villas are the most popular type of property; these modern houses are built for the weather, with all mod cons, well-proportioned interiors, and outside spaces designed for alfresco dining. Towards the luxury end of the scale, expect private pools, proximity to world-class golf courses and secure — sometimes gated — communities. Apartments are also abundant, and many are large enough to accommodate family living. Many benefit from shared facilities like gardens, access to pools, or sports pitches and courts that come with reasonable maintenance charges.
With stepped orchards and hectares of vineyards to the south and the craggy curtain of rock creeping across most of the northeast, the Costa Blanca offers an abundance of great local produce and beautiful coastal walks. The local authorities have invested heavily in accessibility and state-wide free healthcare mean it’s attractive to retirees. The multilingual school system available in the established communities also makes this Costa especially attractive to young families.
Explore more areas of Spain with our Guides to living in Spain.