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2 months in Spain, interested in living like a local

Hi all,

Any advice would be much appreciated!

We’re thinking of traveling to Spain for 2 months in 2022 (February and March, or March and April). Wife, a three and a half year old, a one-year old, and me. I am a native Spanish speaker, but don’t know Catalan (although I imagine I could learn it somewhat quickly if immersed). My wife speaks some basic Spanish and is interested in being immersed and improving it.

We’re interested in warmer temperatures (or at least relatively warmer) so that time of the year means the southern coast. We’re not interested in intense sightseeing every day. We’re interested in renting an Airbnb with a backyard for 2 months (or 1 month each in 2 different places) where we can live like locals. We’re interested in a slow life, playing with the kids at the beach or in the back yard, occasionally doing some sightseeing, eating good food (doesn’t have to be fancy restaurants, though). Maybe even hire a cook / cleaner. Likely a smaller city or town that can serve as a base from which we can do the occasional day trip to do the typical sightseeing.

Any ideas where we should stay those 2 months?

Thanks in advance!!

Posted by
159 posts

February is cold all over Spain, but as you say the warmer area will be Southern Spain, specifically the south eastern coast, from Málaga to Castellón. March and April should be nice and with better temperatures. We love cooking our own meals, instead of hiring a cook I´d learn to cook the dishes of the region you´ll be living in. Almuñecar, Gandía, Jávea, Mojácar, Oropesa...some quick suggestions.

Posted by
4882 posts

February and sometimes March isn’t beach weather in mainland Spain. I spend mid January to mid February on Fuerteventura, one of the Canary Islands. Even there isn’t guaranteed beach weather every day, but it’s usually much better than the mainland. Fuerteventura doesn’t have any world class sights, but it has a fantastic range of sandy beaches, some great walking, easy cycling - much on dedicated cycle tracks and plenty of places to hire bikes plus everywhere is open throughout the winter. Betancuria, the old capital is charming. It’s very child friendly. I stay in Lajares in the north of the island, which has a great range of cafes and restaurants plus a supermarket and independent shops.

April means school holidays and you will find that accommodation prices rocket, although the weather will be better.

A base in mainland Spain that may work for you would be Rota, which has a good beach or El Puerto de Santa Maria. It has a ferry to nearby Cadiz and easy day trips would be Jerez (sherry and horses) or take the train to Seville.

Posted by
3309 posts

If you follow Jennifer’s suggestion about Rota or Puerto de Santa Maria, then choose the March-April dates. Years ago I lived in Rota and it is cold in February. Add to that the wind that came off the bay and it felt even colder. There is a large Carrefour grocery store there, but also many small mom and pop stores. Two considerations to think of about Rota; first is it is now primarily a tourist town during peak season. During off the season much of it, the old town, is essentially shut down. Most of the locals have moved away from the old historic center to out by the Carrefour that is only about a half mile from the old center city. The apartments in the old center get rented to tourists. The other consideration is, there is a navy base there with plenty of Americans, so if you want to get away from English Rota and Puerto may not be the best locations. The navy base is between the two towns. The ferry to Cadiz runs from both towns unless the bay is too rough. I like Mike’s suggestions since those are all small towns in an area of Spain overlooked by most tourists.

Posted by
5366 posts

I think the challenge you will find is that much of the coast from Gibraltar on up to Malaga, and even other areas, being local means living with all the ex-pats from the UK, US, and other countries; plenty fine, but maybe not what you intended.

Relatively speaking, even in March, you get good sunny days for being outside, even relaxing at the beach, except for jumping in the water. You could maybe look in the area from Malaga to Barcelona, a town that may be touristy, but not an ex-pat haven, and benefit from off-season prices. There will be some reduced services, but probably enough restaurants for going out once in a while, and the normal services needed for residents.

Posted by
1095 posts

Not sure if this might be something for you, but for an affordable long-term vacation, I have heard people rave about house swapping. That might get you into a neighborhood with more locals.

much of the coast from Gibraltar on up to Malaga, and even other
areas, being local means living with all the ex-pats from the UK, US,
and other countries; plenty fine, but maybe not what you intended.

Those were my thoughts exactly.

Posted by
19194 posts

My reaction to this sort of idea is that if I wanted to spend a month (much less two months) in one place, it would absolutely be a place with a lot of attractions of its own. Otherwise, after a week or two I might have exhausted the nearby day-trip destinations and need to spend a lot more time in a car. So I would not be looking at little coastal towns. I'd consider Seville first. If it has to be a coastal spot I'd look at Malaga.

Keep in mind that the southern coast of Spain is an extremely popular getaway for sun-starved northern Europeans. Americans, even those living in areas with gloomy winters, have other options (usually with nicer, much-less-crowded beaches) a lot closer to home. Most Americans going to Europe have in mind some cultural exploration, and I don't think the best place to get that is in a little beach town on the Spanish coast full of holiday apartments rented to northern Europeans.

But I don't have children, and I have no experience traveling with young kids and keeping them safe.

Posted by
4882 posts

One key thing to “living like a local” away from areas where there are expats - do you speak Spanish? Two months is quite a long time away if you can’t easily communicate with people. You may not mind being near to some English speakers.

Posted by
1095 posts

Good point. Another idea would be to use that time to learn some Spanish. A tandem kind of learning program might get you in touch with locals trying to learn English.

Posted by
1095 posts

Oh goodness, you're right! I overlooked that, and so, apparently, did Jennifer.