Lifestyle Editor Sean Keenan joins the podcast from Bilbao, Spain, on-location as he researches his next feature story for International Living magazine about an off-the-beaten-path area of Europe that’s ripe for the picking.
Green Spain... Just 100 miles north of Portugal, the stretch of coast between the Basque city of Bilbao in the east, and the Belle Epoque resort of Ribadesella in the west, is a breath-taking area of lush woodland, high mountain peaks, genteel fishing villages, hidden sea coves, and sophisticated international cities.
It’s a region that escapes the ferocious heat of Spain’s interior, occupying a microclimate that’s a breath of fresh air for travelers and expats who are more interested in comfortable temperatures than tropical heat. It’s the perfect place for anyone who craves mild temperatures and four defined seasons. Count on summers that kick off in late April, peak in August, and then cool down to a misty, picturesque Fall in late September. Summer heat rarely peaks above 85 F, while crisp winter mornings see frost in the lowlands, but rarely dip below freezing for long.
In terms of cuisine, Green Spain considers itself to be the epicenter of the best cooking in the country, with a tradition of excellent cool-water seafood from local fishing ports as well as the best dairy and produce from the deep, fertile soil of the region. Hearty bean-based dishes represent the mountain portion of Green Spain, and the preferred local beverage—alcoholic cider—is another of the region’s specialties that adds a distinct sense of place to the dining experience.
Tiny mountain villages nestled into remote valleys, thriving seaports, sophisticated cities, rolling farmland, craggy peaks, a vast and wild coastline…Green Spain is rich with variety. Despite its relatively small size, the region probably offers more to the prospective expat than the rest of Spain combined. And yet, it’s overlooked. That’s partly because it’s been overshadowed by its close neighbor, Portugal. And while Portugal has much to offer, lately, it's been getting almost too popular. Accommodation scarcity in Portugal is driving prices skyward, particularly in sought-after destinations like the Algarve, Lisbon, or Porto.
Green Spain, though, offers almost exactly the same expat experience as Portugal, along with a landscape that’s more dramatic, a cost of living that is arguably lower, and property prices that need to be seen to be believed. A four-bedroom apartment in one of the hippest neighborhoods of central Bilbao for less than $160,000? You bet!
With bustling oceanside cities such as Santander, Bilbao, and Gijon; vast stretches of spectacular coastline; dramatic mountain scenery, and a near-undiscovered selection of precious historic villages, it can’t be long before Green Spain starts to generate a buzz among prospective expats. Be among the first of them by tuning in to Sean’s report in this week’s episode of Bigger Better World.
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