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10 Best European Beach Destinations to Live In

by Staff

For some, Europe’s beach towns and cities offer a once-a-year vacation destination; for others, it’s where they’ve chosen to make their home base permanently. And while reasons may vary — some are digital nomads whose profession allows them to work remotely and some are retirees seeking an exciting new place to spend their golden years — the benefits of moving to a beach destination in Europe, where leisurely strolls along sandy stretches are a part of daily life, are many. Most importantly, settling in a seaside community across the pond doesn’t have to break the bank, and often, it comes with a much lower price tag than in the U.S.

Below, we rounded up some of the best European beach destinations to live in if you’re considering making a move — from bustling resort destinations where you can enjoy more than 300 days of sunshine a year to equally exciting spots that are full of culture and history in colder places for those who don’t mind snowy winters and milder summers.

Alicante, Spain

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Known as the gateway to Spain’s Costa Blanca, this Mediterranean city offers easy access to some of the country’s best beaches, architectural styles that reflect its rich history, and a surprisingly affordable cost of living. 

According to Euronews, you can rent an apartment in the outskirts of Alicante for as low as 600 euros per month. And International Living estimates you need less than $2,000 to cover your daily expenses, and that number includes housing and private health insurance in this city of about 379,000.

Lastly, Alicante is a popular second home destination for many U.K. and northern Europe residents. Plus, it has a large expat community that makes it easy for newcomers to adapt to the new environment.

Málaga, Spain

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Last year, InterNations named the southern city of Málaga the best place to live and work in the world for expats (Alicante was second), ranking first in work-life balance and general cost of living, and second in leisure options. 

Málaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol region, dates back more than 2,000 years (in fact, it’s one of the oldest cities in the world) and boasts a spectacular historic center, museums, and many beaches. The city, which is also the birthplace of Picasso, has a vibrant art scene and hosts several festivals and cultural events throughout the year.

Valencia, Spain

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With more than 300 sunny days per year and average temperatures that usually don’t go above 85 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer or below 65 degrees in the winter, Valencia is an excellent choice for those seeking warm weather. And there’s plenty of year-round outdoor recreation in this city of about 840,000, with more than 20 miles of scenic coastline, many parks, cultural and historic monuments, and restaurants (after all, this is the birthplace of paella). 

While Valencia ranked third overall in InterNations’s latest report (it took the top spot in 2022), the city has the best quality of life globally and places first in health care affordability.

Lisbon, Portugal

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The Portuguese capital has surged in popularity among retirees and digital nomads thanks to its sunny weather, fantastic dining scene, rich cultural life, beautiful hilly cityscape, and laid-back lifestyle. Lisbon recently ranked first in a survey of the most affordable monthly rents — a one-bedroom apartment here costs, on average, $1,125.

“But anyone who believes the capital is only an appealing destination for adults is mistaken; little ones also love Lisbon for the diversity of events designed for them and the large parks and green spaces scattered throughout, providing fun moments for all ages,” Paulo Lopes, CEO of Casaiberia Real Estate, told Travel + Leisure, adding that Lisbon also stands out as a safe city. According to the Global Peace Index, Portugal is the seventh safest country in the world.

Carvoeiro, Portugal

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The Algarve has gained legitimate notoriety thanks to its relaxed lifestyle. Here, one can enjoy a higher quality of life, as the region offers the best of both worlds — all the conveniences and facilities within short distances, as well as the vibrancy and charisma of large and bustling cities,” said Lopes of Portugal’s southernmost region, which draws visitors, retirees, and digital nomads with its sun-drenched beaches.

While the coastline is dotted with resort-style towns and villages, Lopes recommends Carvoeiro for its beautiful setting of dramatic cliffs, whitewashed houses with bold red rooftops, and diverse amenities, including top-notch golf courses and excellent restaurants. The town is also known for its spectacular main beach, a swath of golden sand nestled between rugged limestone cliffs.

Nice, France

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Home to an international airport, a world-famous movie festival, and some of the nicest beaches in Europe, Nice is a global hot spot frequented by jet-setters and A-listers. The city is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with museums, parks, charming neighborhoods, and, of course, the 4.3-mile Promenade des Anglais, which runs along the azure waters of Baie des Anges.

“For buying an apartment, I recommend choosing a centrally located area for easy access to all that Nice has to offer. Neighborhoods like the Carré d’Or, Musiciens, the Port, and Wilson are excellent options,” said Ulrika Topel, a sales agent at Riviera Keys. “Nice offers a great range of neighborhoods, and other sought-after areas like Cimiez, Mont Boron, or Fabron, while a bit further up on the hills and calmer, offer great living spaces and beautiful sea views.”

Split, Croatia

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Croatia’s picture-perfect islands, historical attractions, sunny coastline, and affordable lifestyle have made it popular among expats in recent years. Split is the country’s second-largest city after the capital of Zagreb, where residents can wander the old town’s streets, admire the Adriatic’s azure waters, and enjoy its many museums, restaurants, and coffee shops. Split’s airport provides regular daily flights to and from some of Europe’s largest cities.

Split also has the third cheapest cost of living in Europe, according to a 2023 report, where expats spend, on average, $1,585 per month in expenses.

Antibes, France

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“Antibes is a city that thrives year-round, offering a rich array of experiences for all. Unlike the bustling party atmosphere of Cannes, Antibes exudes a more down-to-earth charm,” said Anders Pettersson, a broker at Riviera Keys

While many associate the resort destination with its bustling summer scene and world-renowned marina, which fills with megayachts in July and August, Antibes is also near Sophia Antipolis, a 2,400-hectare technology community, dubbed the Silicon Valley of Europe, where more than 40,000 employees from 2,500 companies work every day.

“For several years, we’ve experienced a limited supply of houses and apartments for sale. However, it seems this trend is starting to change, with sellers gradually returning to the market. The pricing landscape remains stable, and compared to many other European cities, it’s still possible to get a lot of accommodations for your money per square meter,” said Pettersson. 

According to the French real estate website SeLoger, the median price per square meter in Antibes in February 2024 was 6,060 euros (that number is 9,581 euros for Paris and 4,151 euros in Lisbon).

Stockholm, Sweden

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While the Swedish capital may not be what comes to mind when you think of a beach town, the city was built on 14 islands, many of them with sandy stretches and swimming areas packed with people during the summer months.

Långholmen, a former prison island, is now a go-to outdoor recreation spot for residents, thanks to its small beaches, coves, and picnic areas. Tantobadet in Tantolunden Park is another, particularly beloved by families.

Last year, Stockholm was named one of the best cities in the world for work-life balance. And if you ever get tired of all the beaches in the city, you can explore the larger Stockholm archipelago region, home to a whopping 30,000 islands, islets, and skerries.

Naples, Italy

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Who wouldn’t want to live in the birthplace of pizza, which also has some of the most beautiful swaths of sand on the Mediterranean and thousands of years of history and culture? Add to that epic hikes to nearby Mount Vesuvius and leisurely cruises to the Amalfi Coast, and moving to Naples sounds like an excellent idea.

The cost of living and housing here is also significantly lower than in larger cities like Milan and Rome, and this has attracted a lot of expats and retirees.

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