Which of these would you live in if you wanted to live by the sea - France, Italy or Spain?

I’m from Serbia, but I’m hopefully going to receive a citizenship of an EU member country via ancestry soon (Croatia or Hungary, since I’m eligible for both, though I have to learn the language for the second one) and that will allow me to live and work across the EU without needing a work visa.

Most people in my country who migrate (and tens of thousands leave every year) go to Germany or Austria mostly, but I don’t want to live in those countries, the salaries are great, but you are essentially forced to live in an apartment (as no one can afford a house), which I would hate, I’d rather not move anywhere than have to live in an apartment, I enjoy having my own backyard, playing with my large dog and so on, so that’s a very big factor for me.

Second factor is that I already live in a continental area, but my entire life I want to live as close to the mediterranean as possible, even if that means having a lower salary than I would in Germany.

Greece unfortunately isn’t an option due to their very bad economy, very high unemployment, very high housing costs,etc. , but if the situation was better, that would be my first choice, so I’m essentially trying to find something that looks as much as Greece, but with a better economy.

Spain is my second choice, more precisely Alicante or Almeria, even more precisely villages 10, 15km from the cities, where housing is relatively affordable, but yet isn’t far from the cities. There’s beautiful beaches, sunny climate, salaries are more or less decent, but once again, unemployment is also very high and that’s the only reason why I’m not sure about Spain either.

France (Perpignan and Toulon) seems nice too, economy is much better, but it also seems way more expensive, especially housing prices, I am not sure if a 2 bedroom house with a medium sized backyard can be bought for less than 300k euros even outside larger cities, but despite this for now France is my main choice, even though it’s more of a compromise than a choice.

However, I’m also looking into Italy, but I don’t know much about it and prices there, I looked at images of cities in Italy and it seems that no one really has classic houses with backyards, but mostly 2 or 3 story apartment-houses with no backyards. Cities I’d be mostly interested in Italy are Palermo, Catania, Naples, Livorno and Pescara.

So which of these cities and areas around them would be the best choice? Tens of millions of people live on the mediterranean coast, so there’s probably at least one city with a more or less decent living standard, I don’t want to believe that my only two choices in life are to stay home or go to Germany.

I’d pick France but only because I still retain a bare framework of the french language from HS and college. So I’d have a bit of a head start on picking up the local lingo.

However, the Mrs. is fluent in spanish so I could see us ending up in Spain and having her coach me.

Reading just the thread title, I was going to ask what you thought about Croatia. That you’re eligible for citizenship there makes it seem like an easy choice.

I’ve been to 25 towns in southern France, and I could be happy living in any one of them. You mentioned Perpignan and Toulon, both of which are lovely. But why those two?

If I had the means, I’d look into the $1 homes in Italy. Apparently one would need to promise to restore it and have it be somewhat open to the public as a B&B or some similar thing.

I’d choose Italy regardless, I think their cuisine is better. Just my personal preference, Not claiming to be any kind of authority.

FWIW, in 2019 while traveling from Trapani to Palermo, I do remember seeing houses, mostly single story with backyards or courtyards, along the way. Not rural and not urban. I remember thinking, “I could live in a place like this”. It was close the northern shore of Sicily and I also noted the the beaches were nice and sandy, not stony/rocky like the eastern shore.

I’d have picked Croatia.

in the Toulon region, prices are higher on the coast (very touristic)
and maybe higher than your budget.
You can try villages up a little in the hills: you’ll be still close to the sea (<1 h by car) and prices smaller.
Some villages have more houses than inhabitants and search peoples to maintain activity.

A client of mine is retiring to the Altamura region of Italy. From what he’s said the economy is in pretty good shape while housing is dirt cheap. I’d start looking in southern italy

I’d choose France, but largely because 1) I have some ability to read, write, and speak the language and 2) I’ve been there (traveled from Brussels, Belgium south through Paris to Clermont-Ferrand) and think I could adapt to the culture and environment.

Really, though, I think Spain and Italy could be good choices as well if you are selective about where you settle (which is also true of France).

I would pick France just because I’ve known so many people who got ripped off in Italy and Spain.

I’d consider widening the scope a bit and exploring Portugal. It’s not on the Mediterranean Sea, but it has a Mediterranean climate, a long coastline on the Atlantic, relatively inexpensive real estate, and in recent years a fairly strong economy.

You want decent employment prospects and low housing costs, but there’s always going to be a pay-off there - the better the employment, the higher the cost of living. That’s just life, I’m afraid.

Housing is pretty cheap in parts of Southern Italy, but that’s because employment is patchy and low paid - most of the young people I know in Puglia up sticks and move to Rome, Milan (or London when the EU still made that possible) as soon as they can.

Costal areas in Spain suffer high property prices because it’s just so popular with Brits and Germans.

In your position I would consider France - a more stable economy, fantastic infrastructure and healthcare, better employment prospects, and housing is still reasonable in my opinion (certainly away from major cities and compared to what I’m used to in the UK).

Of course, it would be helpful to know your profession in order to understand your job prospects.

I would chose Spain, but for some more personal reasons that does not seem to apply to the OP. I also would not chose the Mediterranean, but the Atlantic Ocean, near Fisterra. Besides of having a very basic use of Spanish which is a good start, that area is near/on the Camino de Santiago and on a long distance hiking route people usually are friendlier, (it attracts friendly people to move there). Fisterra also is devoid of much of the religions influence that the rest of the trail is know for (it is actually beyond the end of the Christian pilgrimage). I also love the ocean there despite it’s name of the coast of death. Also the cost of living is quite a bit lower then some other areas which is also a plus.

Salaries in Croatia are higher than in Serbia, but still much lower than Italy or Spain, so even though a large salary is not really a requirement, it should still be large enough to make moving worth it.

Plus there’s the issue of me being half Serb ethnically and speaking entirely in Serbian (Croatian is 95% the same, like Australian vs Canadian English, but the accents are very different and some words are said differently) and that is important because from 580k Serbs living there before the war and 200k right after it, there’s barely 180k today and the number is constantly declining due to discrimination. Let’s just say that one of the biggest stumbling blocks is the topic of death camps in ww2, where Serbs and Jews claim that potentially more than half a million mostly Serbs were killed just in the biggest Jasenovac camp, while the official Croatian government says just 80.000 and many don’t even consider it as a death camp, but as a transportation camp for those that were sent to Germany,etc. and some even refer to it as a myth, imagine if Jews and Germans were arguing about Auschwitz and whether the number of victims is 1.1 million or less than 100k and that they called it a myth, that’s the level of hate that exists. Tourists from Serbia often get their tires punctured, so we generally don’t go there even for a sea vacation. I wish Yugoslavia still existed as a democratic country of some sort and that all that didn’t exist, but that’s the world we live in…

I personally would choose France, but it’s because I already speak French.

Probably Italy, as I just think the culture is very interesting. I’m also learning Italian on my own time, so that would work out perfectly, too.

Because Perpignan and Toulon are large enough to find work of all sorts, so even if I find a job now, but that job becomes obsolete in 10, 20, 30 years due to tech advancing, I’ll still have large cities to find other types of work in, but at the same time they aren’t way too large or expensive like Marseille and Nice, where housing is much more expensive and life in general as well.

Fisterra is the local lingo, the OP may have better luck if he searches for Finisterre. And some people are put off by the meaning: it is literally the End of the World, in the Costa da Morte: Coast of Death. But the food is great, people are OK, the weather not bad. It rains rather more than you would expect in Spain: Galicia. Celts are unusual people. Mind the bagpipes!
Perhaps the Canary Islands would be a solution? Best weather in the world. Each island is different, one could fill the OP’s needs.

Yea, that would be difficult to overcome.