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Moving to Spain: A quick guide to the best neighbourhoods in Alicante 

If you’re thinking of moving to Alicante, you may be trying to decide between a small town on the Costa Blanca or a bigger city. Former Alicante resident Conor Faulkner talks us through the most charming and well-serviced ‘barrios’ to move to in the capital.

Moving to Spain: A quick guide to the best neighbourhoods in Alicante 
Port of Alicante seen from the Castle of Santa Bárbara. Photo:

Alicante province is home to 375,000 foreigners, many of them northern European retirees who choose to live in beachside locations along the Costa Blanca which tourists also flock to. 

But the provincial capital, the city of Alicante, is sometimes overlooked by foreigners looking to enjoy the province’s great beaches, nightlife and weather, when in fact it offers all of this as well as history, culture and a more authentic experience of life in Spain. 

In the Internations 2020 Expat Insider 2020 survey, Alicante (population 331,000) was voted the second best city for expats, beating off the likes of Paris, New York and London, and only behind next-door Valencia in the global rankings. It ranked second in the Finance & Housing Index and first worldwide in the Getting Settled Index, with its pleasant climate and good local healthcare also earning it accolades.

So if you’re thinking of investing in a property in Spain or starting a new life in a Spanish city that also has a well-established foreign population, Alicante may be the perfect choice. Here are the neighbourhoods that offer the best quality of life in Alicante city.


La Albufereta

On La Albufereta beach sits an Alicante neighbourhood which goes by the same name, as well as being one of the city’s safest and greenest barrios (neighbourhoods). With both the beach and city centre just minutes away, and coastal views from most areas of the neighbourhood, Albufereta is one of the nicer inner city areas in Alicante.

It’s very well connected with regular bus and tram services and also has several schools, sports centres and shopping areas to complement the coastal lifestyle on residents’ doorsteps.

Photo: Zarateman /Wikipedia


Ensanche-Diputación is another of Alicante’s sought-after waterfront neighbourhoods, encompassing the busy El Postiguet beach, the marina and the pleasant Explanada de España pedestrian walkway, with its endless bars and restaurants.

It’s central, it offers a wide variety of attractive property options and has plenty of services available close by, including Alicante’s main shopping areas and department stores.

The palace which houses Alicante’s Provincial Council. Photo: Joanbanjo/Wikipedia


A bit of a hidden gem in the heart of the city and largely unknown to non-alicantinos, Benalúa has everything you could want from an inner city neighbourhood and exists almost as its own village within the city.

Minutes walk from both the bus and train stations, a whole host of bars, restaurants, supermarkets, shops, plazas and green spaces are on your doorstep, with the the city centre and beach just a ten minute walk away.

The relaxed village feel and services and connections mean Benalúa is popular with families and pensioners.

Flea market in the neighbourhood of Benalúa, Alicante. Photo: Kokoo/Wikipedia

El Barrio 

Located under the picturesque Castillo de Santa Bárbara, you’ll find Alicante’s old town, El Barrio de Santa Cruz. Often referred to as just ‘El Barrio’ or Santa Creu, and it’s home to the bulk of Alicante’s cultural and touristic stops, museums and galleries, its busiest bars, and classical architecture.

El Barrio is the neighbourhood of choice if you want traditional Spanish charm and a lively social life.

The charming streets of Alicante’s old quarter. Photo: Joanbanjo/Wikipedia

San Juan

A short drive or tram ride (around 8km) out of Alicante city centre is San Juan, famous for its golden beach. The barrio has a distinct beach town feel, with the long stretch of golden sand forming San Juan’s hub.

Like many beach towns, San Juan is much busier in the summer as many alicantinos and madrileños take up their beach houses for the summer. This does, of course, have an effect on prices and makes San Juan one of Alicante’s posher and pricier neighbourhoods.

San Juan de Alicante’s main square. Photo: Rodriguillo/Wikipedia

READ ALSO: The most picturesque day trips in Spain’s Alicante province

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For members


Residency through passive income or pension: Is Spain or Portugal better?

Spain's non-lucrative visa and Portugal's D7 visa are both designed for non-EU citizens to be able to live in these Iberian countries and are ideal for pensioners, but how do they compare? Which is easier and offers more benefits?

Residency through passive income or pension: Is Spain or Portugal better?

Spain’s non-lucrative visa, also known as the NLV, is an authorisation that allows non-EU foreigners to stay in Spain for a period of more than 90 days without working or carrying out professional activities in Spain, such as retirees, by demonstrating that they have sufficient financial means. 

Portugal’s D7 visa provides residency status in Portugal to non-EU citizens, including retirees, who receive regular passive income. 

While they both sound similar at the outset, they are quite different when it comes to the requirements and what they offer.

Here’s a breakdown on Spain’s NLV vs Portugal’s D7. 

What are the income requirements?

NLV: For Spain’s NLV, in 2022 you must prove that you have a passive income of €27,792 per year. This number usually rises yearly as it must be 400 percent of the IPREM, so if you’re planning on applying in 2023, you’ll have to budget a little more.

READ ALSO: What are the pros and cons of Spain’s non-lucrative visa?

D7: For Portugal’s D7 visa, you only have to prove that you have 100 percent of the minimum wage which is currently €7,620 per year. Portugal wins hands down in this case as you’ll have to have at least €20,000 more per year if you want to move to Spain.

Can I include family members?

NLV: Yes, the NLV allows you to bring dependent family members such as a spouse and children, however, you will need an extra €6,948 per year for each family member included.

D7: Portugal’s D7 also allows you to bring family members, but again it’s a lot more affordable than Spain’s NLV. You can bring your spouse or your dependent parents for an extra €3,810 per year and your children for an extra €2,292 per year.

Can it be renewed?

NLV: The NLV visa is a one-year visa, but it can be renewed for a further two years and then another two years after that. After five years of residency, you are eligible to apply for long-term residency and won’t have to keep renewing your NLV.

D7: The D7 is initially valid for two years, unlike the NLV. Afterward, you’ll be able to renew it for an additional three years.

Can it lead to citizenship?

NLV: Yes, you can eventually apply for Spanish citizenship after 10 years, but you will need to apply for long-term residency first.

D7: Yes, after you have five years of residency, you are able to apply for Portuguese citizenship, this is half the time that it would take in Spain.

Do I have to pay tax?

NLV: Yes, if you stay more than 183 days in Spain you will become a tax resident and will have to pay tax on your worldwide income. It’s worth remembering, however, that there are double tax agreements with certain countries meaning that if your passive income has already been taxed in your home country, you won’t be taxed again in Spain.

D7: Like in Spain, once you have lived for more than 183 days in Portugal you are subject to paying tax rates there, however, Portugal offers a special Non-Habitual Resident (NHR) status, which you can apply for if you have a D7 visa. This special tax regime offers free incentives and reduced tax rates for some for their first 10 years in Portugal.

Can I work with these visas?

NLV: No, as the name suggests, it’s a non-lucrative visa and you shouldn’t be working in Spain, even if your employer is based abroad. After your first year though you are able to exchange it for a work permit or to become self-employed (autónomo) through a process called residence modification.

READ ALSO: Should I change my non-lucrative visa for another residency permit in Spain?

D7: Like the NLV the D7 is only supposed to be for passive income and you do not have the right to work in Portugal, however, if you later apply for a residence visa, then this restriction will be lifted and you will be allowed to work.

Do I need private healthcare?

NLV: Yes, you will need to apply for private health care in Spain in order to apply for the NLV. Surprisingly private healthcare can be very affordable in Spain at around €50-200 a month and the services are very good.  

D7: Portugal’s D7 also requires you to get private health insurance. Private health care in Portugal can be slightly cheaper than in Spain at between €50 to €100 per month.