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What are the pros and cons of life in Spain's Zaragoza and Aragón?

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What are the pros and cons of life in Spain's Zaragoza and Aragón?
A view of the Basilica del Pilar in Zaragoza. These are the pros and cons of living in Aragón and its capital. Photo: David Vives / Pexels

Historic Aragón is not a region many foreigners immediately think of when considering a move to Spain, largely because it's not on the coast, but get to know it better and you’ll discover there’s a whole host of reasons to enjoy life there.


The landlocked region of Aragón is located in northeastern Spain and has a population of 1.3 million inhabitants, roughly half of them living in its capital - Zaragoza.

It's divided into three provinces - Teruel, Huesca and Zaragoza.

Among Spaniards, Aragón is known for its spectacular mountainous landscapes and vast uninhabited areas, as well as being one of the founding regions of modern Spain.

It's not on the usual tourist trail however, perhaps as it's two hours away from the coast.

So why should you consider a move to this region in Spain? And what are its drawbacks?




Zaragoza is the perfect size

Zaragoza recently became Spain's fourth most populous city behind Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia after surpassing Seville's population in 2023 thanks to its almost 700,000 inhabitants.

Many say it’s the perfect size – ideal for walking, with lots of culture and entertainment options, a varied offering of restaurants, as well as good public transport within the city. Its annual Fiestas del Pilar festival in October are also famous throughout the country. 

It’s strategically located

Aragón as a whole is strategically located, bordering many different Spanish regions, as well as France.

It borders Catalonia and Valencia to the east and Navarra, Castilla y León and Castilla-La Mancha to the west. Its northern edge runs along the Pyrenees and the border with France.

Zaragoza is even better located, halfway between the big hubs of Barcelona and Madrid. It’s just one and a half hours on the high-speed AVE train to Barcelona and another hour and a half from Madrid.



Zaragoza offers good transport links

Depending on where you live in Aragón, there are generally good transport links to the rest of the country. Zaragoza has an international airport (domestic and some international flights), access to the high-speed AVE train network, and a range of regular bus routes to various other towns and cities. There are also AVE services connecting to Huesca and Teruel.

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Zaragoza's lower cost of living and housing

If you’re looking for a big city with a buzz, plenty of activities, culture and nightlife, it usually comes with a price tag, but thankfully Zaragoza is pretty reasonable compared to most bigger cities in Spain.

The latest stats from property portal Idealista show that the cost of buying a property in Zaragoza is €1,764 €/m2 , whereas to rent it's €9.2 /m2. 

According to cost of living website Numbeo, you would need around €2,873 in Zaragoza to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with €3,600 in Madrid (if you rent in either city). Rent, houses, consumer prices and food prices are all lower than in the capital too.

When compared with Barcelona - you would need around €4,005 in the Catalan capital to maintain the same standard of life that you can have with €2,900 in Zaragoza, and again all costs of living are lower in the Aragonese capital. For example, rent is 45.7 percent less and consumer prices are 18.2 percent lower.

READ ALSO: What are the pros and cons of life in Spain’s Basque Country?


Lots of outdoor activities and nature

Both Aragón and Zaragoza are ideal places to live if you love nature and the outdoors. There are mountains for hiking, skiing up in the Pyrenees and a whole range of activities from canyoning to rock climbing and cycling in the Ordesa and Monte Perdido National Park. There are also dozens of centuries-old villages and castles spread throughout the region which make for fantastic daytrips. 


A truly Spanish region

Because Aragón isn’t as popular with foreign residents, you may find it’s easier to integrate into the local population and learn the language faster. You won’t be able to rely as easily on other foreign groups and meetups for socialising, so it’s more likely that you’ll be forced to befriend locals. Of course, this could also be a downside as it will be harder to make friends when you first arrive and there won’t be a support network of people in a similar situation that you can fall back on. 



It's known for its genuine people

Aragón is known for its affable and open people - especially when compared to those from other northern regions - and most foreigners who live there say this is one of their favourite things about the place. Maños, as people from the region are called, are not as boisterous as Andalusians for example, but friendships offer a bit more substance. 

The picturesque village of Alquézar in Huesca province. Photo: Sébastien Vincon/Pexels



Underpopulated areas

While living in Zaragoza may have its pros, Zaragoza and the rest of Aragón are two different worlds. Parts of the region are among the least populated in Spain, hence the existence of political parties like Teruel Existe (Teruel Exists) - campaigning for more rights and services for empty Spain.

While this may sound like a pro to some people, it means that living in these areas can prove difficult due to the lack of public services, such as banks, health centres and schools.


Slow internet connections

If you’re not in one of the cities – Zaragoza, Huesca or Teruel, you'll find that Aragón is notorious for its poor internet connections and slow speeds. If you want to live in rural Aragón and you plan on working from home being self-employed or have a remote job, you might want to think again about where you base yourself.




Employment is both a pro and con, depending on where in Aragón you intend to live. The capital, Zaragoza has many big companies and several international ones too, meaning that if you have the right skills and experience, finding a job shouldn’t be too difficult.

If you live outside of the main city or in any of the rural areas, you’ll find that employment opportunities are limited. You may have to rely on remote positions, become self-employed or start your own business.


Lower wages 

Yes, Aragón and Zaragoza may have a low cost of living, but they also offer lower salaries when compared with Spain's two biggest cities and the EU.   

The average salary in Aragón is €1,720 per month compared to an average of €2,302 in Madrid, according to a recent study from job agency Adecco. This is a difference of €582 per month and €6,984 per year. 

However, according to the National Statistics Institute (INE), Aragón's wages are considerably better than those in southern Spain and more or less on a par with the average in Spain, but still about €100 lower per month. 


Extreme weather

The weather in Aragón can be very harsh. The region has some of the most extreme temperatures in Spain as a result of its continental position, far from both the Atlantic and Mediterranean.  It’s very hot in summer and bitterly cold in winter. This is not the typical Spanish weather most foreigners know - the valley of Jiloca in Teruel in fact is the most consistently cold corner of the country with record temperatures of -28/-30ºC.

Zaragoza is also famed for its crazy wind, which the locals even have a name for – the cierzo. It’s a strong, dry and usually cold wind that blows in from the north or northwest.


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