Spain is a good place to retire, there is no doubt about that. It is the preferred destination for the English, is very well considered by Germans, French or Russians and in general for many other countries, mainly European. But where in Spain? The answer, often, is the Costa del Sol.
On the Costa del Sol there are several very good options to enjoy retirement. Depending on your interests (and your pocket), you can opt for a life of retirement in the big city, a life of yachts and luxury stores or opt for the charm of a fishing village that has adapted to the passage of time. In other words: Malaga, Marbella or our beloved Estepona.
In this article we are going to analyze the main reasons why we believe that retiring on the Costa del Sol is a good idea and we will focus, of course, on Estepona. Here we go.
1. The sun
Yes, you read that right. The Costa del Sol is called that for a reason. And that reason is the number of days (more than 300 per year) in which the sun is the protagonist. One of the countries that brings more visitors to our country is the United Kingdom. In most cases, visitors come from towns that have between 1,200 and 1,600 hours of sunshine per year, while in Spain the range is between 2,500 and 3,000 hours. This is more than twice as many hours of sunshine per day on average: 8.2 in Spain compared to 3.3 in the UK.
If we zoom in on what happens in the Andalusian provinces, and although the differences are not very large, we find that Malaga is one of the provinces that enjoys the fewest hours of sunshine per year. Huelva leads the comparison, with 3,527 hours, while Malaga has 3,248 hours. Likewise, the whole of Andalusia is the envy of any tourist from Northern Europe.
2. Easy integration in an expanding area
The Costa del Sol already has an important foreign colony. It is an area of Spain accustomed to receiving visitors and to people of any nationality appearing in its census. Multiculturalism is the order of the day and for the foreign visitor, perhaps because of the open and friendly nature of the people of Estepona, adaptation is very easy. Probably, the most difficult thing you may find difficult if you are a foreigner is the language, but nothing that can’t be fixed with a good predisposition to make yourself understood.
Add to that the fact that we are in an expanding area. Between 2020 and 2022, Estepona is among the cities that gained the highest number of inhabitants: a total of 1,697. In the whole of Spain, only Boadilla del Monte and Rivas-Vaciamadrid surpassed it, with 2,318 and 1952 new inhabitants registered, respectively.
Where are the inhabitants of Estepona from?
Everyone is welcome in Estepona. The more than 72,000 inhabitants of Estepona are of 120 different nationalities. The United Kingdom is the largest group in the municipal census with 4,615 people, followed by Russia (942) and Germany (835). The fourth place is occupied by those from the Netherlands (586).
If we want to have a more general overview, according to INE data, the province of Malaga has 286,303 foreigners registered in the census. As in Estepona, the country with the largest number of inhabitants is the United Kingdom with 55,778, followed by Morocco with 33,985 and Italy with 15,889. Germany, Romania and Ukraine complete the list of countries with more than 10,000 inhabitants registered in the province of Malaga.
3. Transportation network
For any foreigner, one of the most surprising things about Spain is its magnificent transport network. High-speed trains, national and international airports and modern roads make the Spanish territory a delight for the visitor.
If we go to the particular case of Estepona, you have two airports within easy reach: Gibraltar and Malaga. An important shortcoming is that the train (including the high-speed train) only goes as far as Malaga. From María Zambrano station to Estepona you have several options: by bus, rental car and cab are the most used.
Once you live in Estepona, the easiest way to get around is by car. The city is not very big, so internal displacements in many cases you will be able to walk, but if you have any mobility problem or if you want to visit the surrounding towns or need a check-up at the hospital in Malaga every few days, it will be better if you have your own transport vehicle. Alternatively, prepare your wallet to pay for cabs.
Spain, as the campaign says, is the richest country in the world. And much of this cuisine is born in Andalusia. Few places in the world offer you the quality of Spanish products nor its tradition of good cuisine.
If you are looking for Michelin stars, on the Costa del Sol we have up to 10. Kaleja and José Carlos García (Málaga), Skina, El Lago and Messina (Marbella), Bardal (Ronda), Sollo (Fuengirola)… If competition cuisine is your thing, you are in a great place. But it also cooks very well for more affordable restaurants.
In this article we show you what in our opinion are the best restaurants in Estepona. There are delicacies from this land that are spectacular. A recommendation: you can not spend a week in Estepona and not try a good espeto de sardinas by the sea (it will be for chiringuitos).
5. Commercial offer
The Costa del Sol is perfectly endowed with a great variety of shopping centers: La Cañada, Plaza Mayor, Rincón de la Victoria… Whatever you are looking for, you will always have a shopping center at your disposal.
In Estepona, for shopping, you have Calle Terraza and Calle Real as a reference point and from there, some neighboring streets. Now, with the remodeling of the Paseo Marítimo, it is possible that this area will also expand its commercial offer.
6. Sports and leisure
The Costa del Sol is a very good place to enjoy the sport. Not surprisingly, some soccer teams have chosen to do preseason in Marbella or Estepona to give a couple of examples. The large number of hotels at the service of the traveler and the quality of their facilities are the perfect attraction for practicing sports.
One of the most popular sports in these parts is golf. You may have heard somewhere the slogan that perfectly defines this situation: “Costa del Sol, golf coast”. To give you an idea, in Estepona alone we have all these courses: Atalaya Golf & Country Club (36 holes), Azata Golf (18 holes), El Campanario Golf & Country House (9 holes), El Paraíso Golf Club (18 holes), Estepona Golf (18 holes), La Resina Golf (9 holes) and Valle Romano Golf (18 holes).
In addition to enjoying all kinds of events throughout the year, the Estepona fairgrounds have 23 sports courts. A 7-a-side soccer field, two basketball courts, two mini-basketball courts, two indoor soccer and handball courts, three volleyball courts, a skating rink, a bio-healthy circuit, a tennis court, a petanque, table tennis, a bicycle circuit, an athletics track… for a total of 70,000 m
. Next to this Sports and Leisure Park is the Francisco Muñoz Pérez Municipal Stadium where the Estepona Football Club, Unión Estepona Club de Fútbol, plays its home matches.
Djokovic trains in Estepona
Just a few days ago, Novak Djokovic came to Estepona to train at the athletics track.
Healthcare in Estepona is a topic that has been on everyone’s lips in recent years. The creation of the High Resolution Hospital has been long awaited (more than 12 years of waiting) and for some it has not quite lived up to expectations, as depending on the patient’s ailment they often end up being referred to Malaga.
In Estepona you can also find Cenyt (a private hospital) and Hospiten, on the National 340 road, at km 162 (i.e. not exactly in the center). But undoubtedly, the point of reference for the people of Estepona is the Health Center on Avenida Juan Carlos I.
Despite the cuts to public health care (there are budget items that are always decreasing), Spain continues to be a world reference in terms of health care system. Let us hope that privatizations do not take away one of the reasons why Spaniards can feel proud.
8. The pace of life
Few places in the world are as beautiful as Estepona. The pace of life is what everyone wants to lead, but in Estepona you will find many places that all they ask is to enjoy a good time. Strolling along the new Paseo Marítimo is a delight, as is getting lost among flower pots and white houses in the historic center of town. Art can be found in dozens of murals throughout the municipality and also in the Casa de las Tejerinas.
9. Events, festivals and traditions
Estepona is a town that understands tradition and modernity as two parts of the same story. Easter, San Isidro or the Virgen del Carmen are examples of the extreme care taken to maintain rites frozen in the past. On the other hand, in recent years there has been an important commitment to culture with the construction of the Felipe VI Theater and the new library. In the near future, Estepona will also host an exhibition of works from the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza.
If you are interested in this aspect, here are the most important festivals of the Estepona calendar: what and when they are celebrated and what the celebration consists of.
There are many other factors that can help you decide on Estepona as a retirement destination. For foreigners, the cost of living is also often seen as one of the decisive levers when it comes to taking the plunge. Although Estepona is not cheap compared to the rest of Spain, it is true that for the purchasing power of an Englishman, a Dutchman or a Norwegian (to give just a few examples) to live in such a beautiful environment is a real gift.