Where do most US and UK expats live in Spain and why?

Many citizens from English-speaking countries fall in love with Spain and decide to settle in this beautiful country. However, those expats living in Spain have to face a difficult decision: which place to choose among all the wonderful options at hand. Keep reading to find out where most of them end up living and why.

US and UK residents in Spain

According to BBC statistics, Spain is the second country with most British residents in the world, only after Australia. In that respect, it is the top 1 country in Europe, with more than 760 000 residents from the United Kingdom.

Little Britain supermarket in Tenerife, home to many British expats

Little Britain supermarket in Tenerife, home to many British expats. | Shutterstock

Meanwhile, Statista tells us that “Citizens that came originally from the United States made up the most common North American nationality in Spain as of 2021, with about 29,800 residents”. The number is way lower than the UK, the third foreign country with the most populous community in Spain according to data provided by the Spanish Ministry. However, there are still many US citizens interested in visiting and living in Spain, and we will see which places they choose to settle.

Most popular places in Spain among US and UK expats

The Instituto Nacional de Estadística (“National Statistics Institute”), or simply INE, gathers the places that welcome most international immigrants in Spain. In 2022, the top 3 autonomous communities were Catalonia, the Valencian Community and the Community of Madrid. When it comes to provinces, Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante, Madrid and Málaga stand out, the capital of Spain being the top star. However, when it comes to expats from the UK and the US, things change a little bit. These are the places with most residents from those countries and the reasons why they are so popular.


Tossa de Mar on the Costa Brava, Catalonia

Tossa de Mar on the Costa Brava, Catalonia. | Shutterstock

This is the second favourite place for US residents, and the fourth for UK expats in Spain. The mild Mediterranean climate and its wonderful coasts, including Costa Brava and Costa Dorada, probably contribute to this decision. The stunning beaches of Catalonia are not just tourist attractions for the holidays; their warm water and silky stripes of sand are wonderful permanent companions too.

Catalonia is also rich in culture and traditions, as well as boasting fascinating architecture, spotted by works by Gaudí, like the famous Casa Batlló. With a unique personality and its own language, Catalonia makes a great place to live for everyone.


Granada, Andalusia

Granada, Andalusia. | Shutterstock

Andalusia is the first choice for UK residents, with over 81,000 of them recorded in 2020. When it comes to the United States, it occupies the third place on the rankings. It is hard to summarise the reasons why one should want to move to Andalusia. From the most charming cities like Seville or Granada, to the magical white villages and the majestic Andalusian mountains, this land can be the perfect place for any type of person. We cannot forget its beautiful coast either, with the lovely Costa del Sol that attracts many travellers every year. Andalusia is full of history too, and its architectural gems reveal fascinating chapters of the past, like the reign of Al-Andalus.

The Valencian Community

Panoramic view of Altea in the Valencian Community

Panoramic view of Altea in the Valencian Community. | Envato

This autonomous community is the second most popular among US residents and the fourth for our neighbours from the UK. Cities like Valencia and Alicante welcome many English-speaking expats with open arms, and many of them choose to stay permanently. The old Kingdom of Valencia still prevails in its buildings, and it is a fascinating area to discover for different reasons. Of course, the Mediterranean Costa Blanca and the delicious Valencian paella are great incentives too!

The Community of Madrid

The city of Madrid

The city of Madrid. | Envato

According to official data gathered by the Ministry of Spain, the number one place US-citizens choose as their new home in Spain is Madrid. It is not as popular among UK expats moving into Spain, but there were more than 10,000 citizens from the UK in the Community of Madrid in 2020. It is easy to fall in love with the capital of Spain, considering its rich cultural offer, vibrant nightlife and wide variety of options for entertainment. There is always something to do in Madrid, like visiting its fascinating museums, walking around its parks, enjoying a play or a musical, having fun at its amusement parks, and so on. Moreover, its surroundings are worth discovering too, with its mountains, reservoirs and enchanting towns.

The islands: the beloved Canary and Balearic dreams

Tenerife in the Canary Islands, a place welcoming many expats

Tenerife, Canary Islands. | Shutterstock

Statista shows that the Canary Islands are the third favourite place to live for UK residents. Apparently, people from the US prefer the Balearic Islands, as it ranks fifth on its list. Both archipelagos have amazing things to offer, from the volcanic landscapes of Tenerife to the architecture of Mallorca overlooking the bright blue Mediterranean Sea, it is nice to slowly dive into the essence of these unique pieces of land. Their crystal-clear beaches and ancient cultures add to the magic of these corners to stay in.

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