Quality of life in Spain: Spanish cities with the best and worst quality of life in 2021

Vigo is the city with the highest score, followed by Zaragoza and Bilbao. Madrid and Barcelona occupy the last positions.

Quality of life in Spanish cities
Thorcho gp, CC BY-SA 3.0, Gregorio Puga Bailón from A Coruña, Spain, CC BY 2.0
2 June 2021, Redaction

Vigo is the Spanish city with the best quality of life according to a survey conducted by the Organisation of Consumers and Users (OCU) among the inhabitants of the 15 largest cities in the Spain. Here are results when it comes to the highest (and lowest) quality of life in cities in Spain.  

The highest and lowest quality of life in Spain

To assess the quality of life in Spain, the organisation used different variables to create its quality of life index: from mobility and public safety, to education and health services, as well as leisure, sport, culture and pollution. The survey has also taken into account the cost of living, job offers, urban cleanliness and the real estate market, which includes, for example, the supply of housing, the variety of properties and house prices in Spanish cities. 

And with all these factors on the table, the Galician city of Vigo is the best rated by its inhabitants for quality of life, above all, "for its good ratings in safety, cleanliness and education, as well as environment and pollution. And it is also one of the best cities for families with children, as its leisure, sports and cultural offerings also score well. On the other hand, the city also has some weak points, such as the employment and real estate market.

One step behind Vigo is Zaragoza, which is highly rated by its citizens in all aspects, except for cleanliness. Next is Bilbao, whose worst rated aspects are the cost of living and the real estate market, while Valladolid and Cordoba round off the top 5.

At the other end of the table you can find Murcia, Palma, Barcelona and Madrid, which among Spanish cities are said to have the worst quality of life, although for different reasons. In the Spanish capital, for example, evaluations in education are below average and health services are among the worst rated. In the case of Murcia and Palma, the problem of mobility stands out, while Barcelona fails in safety. Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Seville are also below average.

In Madrid and Barcelona, the best scores are in job offers and the employment market, as well as leisure and sport, while urban cleanliness, cost of living, pollution and housing get the worst scores.

Spanish cityQuality of life score
Vigo70
Zaragoza69
Bilbao69
Valladolid68
Cordoba68
Malaga66
Valencia65
Gijón65
Alicante64
Average of 15 cities64
Seville63
Las Palmas de Gran Canaria63
Murica61
Palma57
Barcelona56
Madrid55

Quality of life index in Spain: top cities in each category

Cost of living

The OCU ranks Valladolid and Vigo as the cities where satisfaction with the cost of living is highest, while Palma and, above all, Barcelona have the highest percentage of inhabitants who are dissatisfied with this criterion. 

Citizen safety

Vigo stands out as the safest city in Spain, according to its inhabitants, followed by Gijón, while the Catalan capital is the worst rated. 

Mobility

The cities with the highest scores for mobility are Bilbao and Zaragoza, while the citizens of Malaga and Alicante highlight the improvement that is needed. 

Environmental quality

Pollution and the environment are always important aspects of urban quality of life. And the cities with the best scores in this respect are Vigo, Zaragoza and Bilbao, while Barcelona and Madrid occupy the two worst positions.

Health services

Bilbao tops the ranking for health services, with up to 72% of respondents satisfied with health care in the city. Zaragoza (69%) and Cordoba (62%) are next on the list. 

Cultural, sports and leisure offering

Bilbao once again tops the list of cities where these services are most highly rated by citizens (7 out of 10 are satisfied), followed by Madrid, Zaragoza and Barcelona, with similar percentages. 

Educational offer

This is a determining criterion for families with children of school or university age. And at the top of the table are Bilbao, Vigo and Zaragoza, which are once again the cities with the most satisfied inhabitants. Palma, on the other hand, is the city with the worst rating. 

Cleanliness

Street cleanliness and waste management is especially valued by the inhabitants of Bilbao and Vigo, while those surveyed in Alicante and Madrid are the least satisfied with this criterion.

Job market

Employment offer and the possibilities of finding a job are more of the most influential variables when it comes to assessing where we live. In this case, the most important cities are Madrid, Zaragoza and Valladolid, although the rate of satisfaction does not even reach 30%.

Real estate market

The OCU maintains that, in general, those surveyed in Zaragoza, Valladolid, Valencia and Cordoba are those who have the most positive perception of the variety of housing, its accessibility and house prices.

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