Posted by Josh Jeffery on June 26th, 2019.
Spain, it seems, never ceases to pull people in. Its world famous cities, such as Madrid and Barcelona, are the perennially hot destinations (pun intended) among those looking to live abroad. Still, those bustling cities can be quite pricey.
Never fear, however – there are more affordable alternatives, and once you hear more about Malaga you’ll realise why it is such an up-and-coming expat destination.
Yes, the birthplace of Pablo Picasso is increasingly considered to be one the best bits of Spain’s famous southern coastal strip, the ‘Costa del Sol’ – and it’s also a very affordable place to live.
Intrigued? Keep reading to find out why Malaga might be right for you!
In the past few years the coastal city of Malaga has seen something of a revival and has quickly evolved into one of the best city destinations in Spain. With new artistic and modern attractions appearing all the time, it’s becoming known as Spain’s second city for art and culture.
Popular as a port city, an attractive beach destination, and a cultural magnet, Malaga is both a gateway and a stepping stone for expats when they first arrive on the Costa del Sol. But this also means that this well-proportioned city is sometimes overlooked as a place to settle down.
And yet, as well as being a hub for artists and having an idyllic strip of sandy beaches, Malaga also enjoys sunny weather and excellent restaurants. Not only will you find delightful Mediterranean dishes all year round, but the growing contemporary scene means that there are always new and exciting restaurants and bars popping up.
Although the residential districts spread far, it’s a fairly compact city with most of the main attractions right in the centre … which is only a short walk from the beach. Getting around is a breeze, thanks to modern and efficient buses and an innovative hop-on-hop-off scooter hire system, or you could simply enjoy a leisurely stroll around the pedestrianised central area. In fact, it’s very easy to enjoy all that Malaga has to offer, and the rest of Costa del Sol and Andalusia is never far away.
Malaga is known for being a very safe city to live in – even more so than many other places in Spain.
What’s more, the city is peaceful and idyllic, and it must be doing something right because it is one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities on Earth.
The urban centre has existed in some form for around 2,800 years, with experts generally dating its foundation back to around 770 BC when it was called “Malaka”. Over the aeons it has been under the control of many different powers, and the heady mixture of Phoenician, Roman, Arabic and Christian remains has given the city what some call an ‘open museum’ feel.
Malaga is Spain’s fourth-biggest city in terms of economic activity, and its biggest sectors are tourism, technology, and construction. The harbour and recently-modernised airport act as gateways, making it a bustling city for conferences, commerce, and events.
Malaga has been an up-and-coming destination for a while, and its transformation into an international city has even been called ‘Cinderella-like’, with many places being modernised while retaining their traditional charm.
Due to Malaga’s storied and varied architecture, there are many different vibes to experience throughout the city – but no matter where you are in Malaga you are unlikely to find much variation in cost, although it will probably be much cheaper than Madrid or Barcelona.
Centro Urbano – The Historical Centre
When people talk about concerts and events happening in Malaga it’s most likely they are referring to something going on in the historical centre, known as the Centro Urbano.
Centro is right next to the central port and beach area, where most of the city’s historical sights, best attractions, shops, and restaurants, are all crammed in together.
The Old Town area, Soho, the Alcazaba of Malaga (castle), Larios Street, the Picasso Museum, the Cathedral, and much more are all packed into the centre of the city. This is just one of the reasons Malaga is considered so easy to navigate and sightsee.
Not only that, Centro actually has a sizeable number of people living there and the cost of property isn’t as steep as you might think. Even so, if being at the centre of things seems a bit overwhelming, some of the next best options really aren’t far away.
Typical monthly cost to rent an apartment: £890
Este – The Resort-Like Eastern District
Malaga’s largest district is just to the east of Centro and spreads out far.
Encompassing a lot of the metropolitan area itself and including all of the city’s eastern shoreline, Este is more than just the famous La Malagueta bullring. It’s also home to the fishing community of the city, meaning fresh food and a very relaxed vibe despite these areas being so close to the city centre.
Just near the bullring is one of the city’s most significant seafront residential areas, making it ideal for those who want a place to live near the beach.
There are properties with gardens and numerous upmarket properties in Este, so this is a district to check out if you want a relaxed lifestyle with plenty of space that’s close to the centre.
Typical monthly cost to rent up-market apartment: £3,560
Typical monthly cost to rent a regular apartment: £1,200
Carretera de Cadiz – The Up-and-Coming Seafront Area
One of the parts of Malaga that has seen a dramatic transformation in recent years is just south-west of the city centre. Carretera de Cadiz is now the most densely populated district in all of Malaga, due to the sheer amount of property development that has taken place there.
A new and exciting zone called Wharf 1 opened as recently as 2011, and it’s filled with trendy bars, restaurants and shops.
In terms of residential areas, Huelin is a neighbourhood that often gets a lot of praise. With a huge beach area as well as bars and restaurants serving fresh food, you can rent a lovely beachside property here for as little as £520 a month.
There are new places, both residential and for leisure, appearing in this district all the time. Plus, despite its popularity and location on the seafront, there are still many fairly cheap properties on offer if you want to buy.
Typical monthly cost to rent an apartment: £800
The above districts are all within a short distance of the city’s best sights, restaurants and beaches. Slightly further inland you’ll find districts such as Campanillas and Bailen, which remain fairly close to the centre. And although you might think that living away from the beach would give you a cost advantage, in actual fact they’re not that much cheaper, with rent costing in the region of £600 for a standard apartment.
Nevertheless, with affordable prices easy to find no matter which part of the city you look in, Malaga might be the perfect city to live out you Spanish dreams.
Having your own place near the beach or close to some stunning landmark sounds good, right? And then there’s how cheap a night out with excellent food and drink … what more will it take to persuade you that Malaga just might be the place you were looking for?
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