Hankering for your own slice of the relaxed Spanish lifestyle? Then take a look at Estepona, as this placid and picturesque municipality on the Costa del Sol is a prime destination for all those foodies out there.

With its beautiful beaches, gourmet restaurants, first-class golf courses and unforgettable viewpoints, it’s arguably one of the best places to retire in Spain.

Is Estepona a good place to live?

Estepona is a brilliant place to live if you’re looking for a quieter life but still with plenty of amenities and entertainment on your doorstep.

Living in Estepona, Spain
Typical Estepona on a summer day – sunny, bright, and welcoming

Estepona itself is an international city: the number of foreigners living here is the highest in Andalusia (about 25%). The charming city views, its many restaurants, bars and relaxed approach to life all lead many Europeans to choose Estepona as their second home.

Estepona has excellent transport and accommodation infrastructure. It is just 80km away from Malaga airport. Also, the nearest international airport, Gibraltar, is just 45km away.

If you are a coast lover, Estepona is just the place for you. It’s famous for its 21km of coastline, and many of its beaches have been awarded the blue flag status – a marker for environmental, safety, and quality standards. 

The most famous beaches are

  • Playa del Cristo, which is located within the city borders, west of the port;
  • Playa de la Rada, which runs along the historic centre and ends at the waterfront and Paseo Maritimo; and
  • Playa del Padrón, located 1.5km east of the city centre, famous for its 2km-long beach and crystal clear waters.

Retiring in Estepona

European retirees love Estepona. It offers everything you want for a happy retirement.

Estepona is a charming town, also known as the “Garden of the Costa del Sol” with its white houses, cobbled streets, countless flowers and trees. The heart of the town is Estepona’s port and marina.

Today, it is not only a working fishing port with a large number of restaurants and bars but also a beautiful modern marina where you can rent a yacht and sail on the turquoise waters of the Mediterranean Sea.

Living in Estepona, Spain
The marina in Estepona is a favourite spot of many people in summer, as the bars and restaurants are open until late.

Estepona is a perfect retirement destination. It can offer excellent infrastructure for both life and entertainment. When your children and grandchildren come to visit, they won’t be disappointed. 

Just remember to include the following in their planned activities:

  • Selvo Aventura – the perfect combination of a theme park and a zoo for an active family holiday;
  • The Orchid House and Botanical gardens – a very popular place in Estepona, the garden covers an area of 13,000 m² and has more than 5,000 plants. Here you can walk among the original vertical gardens, lakes and a high waterfall with pools. In addition, the garden contains the largest selection of orchids in Europe, with over 1,300 types of flowers;
  • Park “Los Pedragales” – it is located in a mountainous area, covers an area of about 30 hectares, and is located at an altitude of 250 metres above sea level, an ideal place for family holidays, hiking or horseback riding.

Outdoor activities are generally very popular in Estepona. There are 8 magnificent golf courses, such as Atalaya Golf, El Paraiso, Villa Padierna and many others; Europe’s largest riding school “Escuela de Arte Ecuestre Costa del Sol”; and numerous diving centres, surf schools and yacht clubs.

Estepona has good medical facilities and it is also not an expensive place to live. This is exactly why so many expats love living there. 

How safe is Estepona?

For 25 years the Costa del Sol has been considered one of the safest regions in Europe, and Estepona is a city with a record low crime rate. 

Living in Estepona, Spain
The Orchid House and Botanical Gardens are just a short walk from the seafront

Nevertheless, cases of petty theft are not uncommon. However, this is not a cause for panic and to distrust town security; you just need to consider the usual precautions.

There are 3 types of police in Andalusia, but despite the different competencies, representatives of any of these law enforcement agencies are responsible for the safety of citizens and tourists.

In addition, almost all houses and residential complexes are equipped with security systems, video surveillance or a 24-hour security service to ensure a high level of security for their residents.

Is it better to rent or buy a property in Estepona?

This is the age-old riddle facing hundreds of people who decided to move. Let’s see what is more relevant for Estepona.

Estepona is well known to property hunters looking for a home on the Costa del Sol, as it offers reasonable prices and good financial strength.

In recent years, the activity of the new mayor has resulted in a significant inflow of investments from international financial companies. They are investing heavily in the city itself and in the construction of new real estate.

Estepona is thriving and so property prices are rising. In 2019, local housing added 4.6% in price. Thus, if you buy at the right time in the right location you could benefit from the increase in the value of your property as the market continues to increase.

If you are buying a property to let as long-term or as a short-term holiday rental, you will benefit from a fixed regular income that you can rely on as part of your long-term financial planning.

As Estepona continues to increase in popularity, you can also only expect to see the resale value of your property increase year by year. 

Living in estepona
Estepona is famous for its cosy street framed by white houses and decorated with flowers

However owning a property outright brings a lot of costs – annual property taxes, utility bills, community bills and insurance coverage.

On the other hand, renting a property gives you flexibility and freedom.

You will be able to make sure that you have chosen the right location and make a decision on whether the area serves your priorities, evaluate all the advantages and disadvantages of living in Spain and make the final right decision to buy your own property.

The only difficulty that you may have with renting is that in the current situation there has been some shortage in the long-term rental market. So finding a really good one can be difficult.

Where in Estepona should I buy property? 

The most popular area in Estepona stretches between San Pedro de Alcántara and the east part of Estepona – The New Golden Mile. The New Golden Mile has a reputation as one of the best luxury destinations in Europe.

The development of this area was planned in great detail to respect the environment and was built with the highest quality standards and exclusivity.

There are a variety of properties for sale that you can find in this area with many prestigious urban areas, golf apartments, exclusive villas and luxury beachfront penthouses. 

Golf lovers should take a closer look at the Atalaya, El Paraiso and Los Flamingos areas. The championship golf courses are surrounded by quality villas and apartments, many of which boast stunning views towards the coast.

Most developments in these areas are gated with 24-hour security, swimming pools, tropical gardens, and are in walking distance to the shops and restaurants. 

Los Flamingos is a mountainside area in the New Golden Mile. It is a secluded valley surrounded by three 18-hole courses, and it still offers the possibility for further development and building plots.

Besides, Los Flamingos is home of the famous 5-star Villa Padierna Hotel where Michelle Obama stayed in the summer of 2010.

Living in Estepona
The promenade is the most favourite place for a stroll in Estepona

If you are leaning towards more luxurious properties, take a look at fantastic quality complexes such as Torre Bermeja and Cabo Bermejo, Doncella Beach, Menara Beach and Los Granados del Mar.

These complexes are highly sought after by British buyers looking to own a piece of prime coastal estate in the New Golden Mile area.

And where I shouldn’t buy?

Overall, Estepona is a safe city to live in. You will not find areas with slums or high crime rates here.

What you do need to consider in order not to make a mistake when buying a property is whether the location suits your particular needs. 

For example, if you do not have a car, mountainous areas are not the best choice because getting there will be difficult. Similarly, construction sites in developing areas such as Selvo can cause inconvenience.

Also, make sure not to buy in an area that is almost exclusively holiday lets – it will be like a morgue in winter and dreadfully busy in summer.

What expat groups are in Estepona and how can I make friends? 

The Costa del Sol has long been the favoured destination for British expats looking to escape to Spain from the dreary confines of the UK’s unpredictable weather.

According to a study by Kyero, a leading property web portal, Estepona tops the list of Top Destinations for British buyers.

As a result of such popularity, you can find many things that will make you feel at home on this stretch of the Costa del Sol. This includes:

  • English media – El Sun, Sur, The Olive Press and more
  • Radio stations – Central FM, Spectrum FM, Talk Radio Europe
  • English associations – International Club of Estepona, Royal British Legion Estepona Branch 

Stores with familiar food – The British Butchers, Overseas Supermarkets, Costaless U.K. Foods Bena Vista

English bars and restaurants –  The Robin Hood bar and Restaurant, Rorry’s bar, Peggotties, Healy’s Irish Bar & Restaurant, Neli G’s and much more.

You can find UK property agencies, insurance companies, law firms, handymen and more along the coast.

What is healthcare like in Estepona?

Estepona has a great selection of clinics and medical facilities both private and state-run.

The ‘Ambulatorio’  – a state-run medical centre – is located on Avenida Juan Carlos, it has a 24hr emergency wing as well as daytime care.  The state hospital for Estepona is Hospital Costa del Sol in Marbella. 

To be eligible for state-run healthcare, you need to be a full-time resident and have a health card. There are also multiple options for private health insurance.

  • Health Insurance In Spain – all you need to know to qualify and register for state-funded healthcare, your private healthcare options, doctors and hospitals in Spain.

Estepona or Marbella?

Estepona has long been in the shade of its famous and glamorous neighbor Marbella, but now things are changing.

Living in Estepona
Estepona port is much more than just a port. It’s frequented by shoppers for its Sunday morning market, by foodies for its eclectic selection of restaurants and by dancers for its happening bars and dance floors.

Today, Estepona is the same modern and comfortable town but in stark contrast to the hustle and bustle Marbella that has mostly been surrendered to the behemoth of tourism. Estepona, however, is developing without losing its Andalusian charm. 

So, if you are tired of the big city and are looking for a calm, measured life, then the quiet and relaxed Estepona is better for you than overcrowded Marbella.

And one of the main advantages of Estepona is the value of the property. With a budget around 300,000 Euros, you can count on apartments and villas here with more rooms and amenities than those found in Marbella.

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