by Victor Sesma
Victor Sesma is an Alicantinian living in London. He is a Software Engineer who likes writing about the city he was born.
Your Guide to Alicante [By an Alicantinian]
Alicante is an ancient Spanish city in the southeast that has grown by the Mediterranean sea. It has a beautiful old town, vivid culture and nightlife, good food and beautiful beaches. It is also innexpensive (for now) so it is a good place for expats, foreigners and tourists.
Don’t be fooled by Alicante’s population size -of 348.731 in 2021- Alicante’s vibe is of a bigger city as it has the 5th busiest airport in Spain (in Spanish). As Spain is one of the countries receiving the most tourists in the world this means Alicante received 15 million people through its airport in 2019.
A good 17,2% of the population in Alicante is international. There is more detailed information in the official documents from Alicante’s city hall (in Spanish).
How this translates into the day-to-day life in the city? Well, many people, especially in the areas with the most expats such as the centre, speaks English. Many events in Meetup or Facebook are organised in English and you can have a min-world happening in English if you wanted. Just as in any other big city in Spain such as Barcelona.
But what happens if you want to integrate and speak Spanish? No problem, as soon as you go out from the city centre everything is way more Spanish and the local language gets very handy soon. Also, most of the events are organised by Spaniards or people who live in Spain for a long time. A mix of local people and international people assist. There should not be issues if you want to learn the language and integrate more into the Alicantinian society.
In Alicante, there are areas of the city where most of the expats tend to live. These areas are Alicante centre (Mercado, El Barrio, Rambla, Luceros…) and Playa de San Juan.
Most of the fun in Alicante -with most restaurants and nightlife- concentrates in Alicante centre and San Juan Beach so it is the area where most expats tend to live.
If you are working remotely, have a start-up or have a digital nomad lifestyle Alicante offers also services for you.
There are many places to work in Alicante. Some are free cafes, others are paid co-working spaces. There is also a co-living mid-term apartment building.
The city hall is also investing in a new office area in the marina that will be available in the next few months.
In Spain, the internet is quite fast. Fibre optic connections -available in most properties- average speeds from 61.68 Mbps to 400.59 Mbps (as per fairinternetreport.com). Mobile internet is available with 4G and 5G speeds.
Alicante is a safe city. There are 29 offences for every 1000 inhabitants. In comparison, Barcelona has 47.8 offences for every 1000 inhabitants and Madrid has 37. Malaga is just a bit safer with 25.8 per 1000 people. The data is from 2022 and was gathered from this press article (in Spanish).
Alicante is a typical destination for British people but they usually go to different places in Alicante province and costa Blanca such as Benidorm or Torrevieja.
So if you are worried about the stereotype of British going to Alicante here is some data for you.
The British population in the city of Alicante is 0.4% of the total population, 1469 persons. So the city of Alicante is not full of British people (remember Alicante has 348731 inhabitants) for the good and for the bad. The biggest colonies of the British are in nearby areas of the province of Alicante/Costa Blanca.
Algerians, Colombians and Italians make up the top 3 of not Spanish people living in the town and registered in Alicante’s city hall. Ukrainians and Chinese are in positions 10th and 11th. The British are in the position 14th with 1469 people. All this data is from 2021 and was released by Alicante’s city hall here (in Spanish).
Madrid is about 2:30h away by train; as far as London by plane. For example, Norway, Poland, Barcelona or Italy are not much further.
As the 5th most populated province in Spain there are many things to discover and do in the city and nearby the city of Alicante.
Just a few things to do in Alicante:
And other few things to do nearby Alicante
As you can see, it is not easy to get bored in Alicante.
Arguably, Alicante offers high Quality of Live (QOL), a concept the Spaniards love talking about.
The city of Alicante is comfortable. If you live in the centre you will have access to Mercado Central -or central market in English- with quality cheap food, beaches at a walkable distance and good restaurants and nightclubs.
The public transport is good with the TRAM train for going to nearby cities and the local bus system working fine for moving around the city. It is also extremely cheap.
The scenery is beautiful and there is almost always something going on if you like to join Meetups and different events or local festivities. Also, the weather is surprisingly good.
Yes, even winter weather is good in Alicante. One of the main advantages is that the beach can be used from mid-May to mid-October without getting frozen.
In summer can get hot but no more than in places such as Madrid, Seville or other coastal cities.
It almost never rains except for September to October when it might rain a bit more on average and blue skies are the norm.
In general, people in Alicante are friendly. In the ’60s, when the dictator Franco decided to open Spain to international tourism, one of the areas that benefited was the Costa Blanca/Alicante province.
This developed a good sense of humility and prosperity that was attached to international tourism. It was seen as a tool to develop and make profits.
Therefore, the already inclusive, open and warm Spanish personality assimilated international tourism as an opportunity to worry about and take care of. This idea has been kept in time and Alicantinians have the same attitude towards foreigners nowadays.
Obviously, we are talking about stereotypes but this should guide the general trend in the experience in Alicante.
For example, living in Alicante costs 22.7% less than living in Madrid as per the data from elDiario.es (in Spanish).
As Alicante is hot, even in winter, architecture naturally adapts to this fact. Isolation in Alicantinan houses is bad.
Many north Europeans have complained about how they are cold in Alicante at home at 15°C sunny outdoors when their countries have 23°C indoors even though it is -10°C outside.
And this is an important point if you are looking for a house in Alicante. Be sure to ask the right questions about isolation and cold/heat systems as not refurbishment houses might not have any A/C or radiators.
Also, bare in mind that heating is usually easier than cooling. So, for example, if a house doesn’t have a boiler for the radiators a heater from Carrefour would do the thing. But the same is not true for the heat. Fans can help but when it is really hot only A/C can really cold down the flat and A/C systems needs proper installation.
And obviously, don’t worry that much about hot water. That’s a must even in old and not refurbished flats.
At the end of the summer, the Mediterranean sea warms up a lot, getting even close to 30°C.
This overheated sea can sometimes fuel heavy rains in Alicante and many other Mediterranean cities. It should not worry you much and if any meteo alert is happening at the time you are in Alicante you will know through the press or the people you meet.
It is important to follow the official directions you might see yourself in any heavy rains situation. More about heavy rains topic is here.
If you are looking for a job in Alicante -or in Spain in general- you are soon to realise that the market is not as good as in many other countries.
Alicante has an unemployment rate of 18.95% in 2022 as per data from expansion.com. But, for example, Benidorm’s data is better with 13.13% of unemployment. For Spain, in general, the figure is 12.4%.
This is only important only if you are thinking of moving in with children. If not, you can just ignore the next couple of paragraphs.
Alicante is part of the Valencian Comunity. In this autonomous community, it is set by law that there is an extra official language apart from Spanish: Valenciano. The language itself is the same as Catalan just a variant of it.
Valenciano is not spoken much in Alicante and everyone is able to speak Spanish. The language might be used a bit more in other areas and towns of Alicante province, such as Alcoy, and some other areas of the Autonomous Community.
If you have children of studying age you should know that it is mandatory to learn Valenciano at school. You might be able to trespass on this in international private schools but inform them about this first. And it comes with a fee.