Why digital nomads are moving to Malaga

Forbes has named Malaga the “Best Alternative Capital City” in the world

Forbes business magazine has named Malaga the “Best Alternative Capital City” in the world. So what is it that makes the city so attractive and why are particularly digital nomads so keen on moving to Malaga?

Malaga will forever be associated with images of sun, sand, and sangria, the ingredients that brought the Costa del Sol to the fore in the early sixties. But the city has long since stepped beyond the clichés associated with that type of tourism, transforming the region and putting southern Spain on the holiday map. Today, there is far more to the city than a mere escape from colder climes. Malaga is now a major hub for the technology and finance industries, with multinational companies in a range of sectors choosing the city for their operations. So it is no surprise that the city now represents a unique opportunity for digital nomads, and foreign remote workers are arriving en masse in search of furnished apartments in Malaga.

During the latter half of the twentieth century, Malaga and the Costa del Sol experienced rapid growth primarily due to a new tourism boom. The development of the first high-rise luxury hotel in Torremolinos in 1959 is often referred to as the beginning of a period that saw people flock to the province from around the world. The film industry followed suit, and movie stars such as Frank Sinatra, Brigitte Bardot, Marlon Brando, Elisabeth Taylor and Orson Welles came to see and be seen. Holiday-goers discovered that Malaga and its environs offered a magical mix of culture, food, fun and sun, and many chose to move permanently to the region or purchase holiday homes.


Malaga’s Mediterranean climate is undoubtedly one of the city’s most appealing features. With over three hundred days of sunshine a year, warm weather for eight months, and a Mediterranean breeze to keep the summer temperatures from becoming excessive, more sun-seekers than ever are moving to Malaga from around the world. But perhaps even more noteworthy is the fact that Malaga’s winters are the mildest of any European city with a population over 500,000, making Malaga and the Costa del Sol an equally appealing destination in winter. Rain is concentrated in the winter months, but with an average of around 45 days of precipitation per year.

Work-life Balance

Furnished apartments in Malaga provide more than just a workspace for digital nomads and relocated employees. The city and province provide a unique opportunity for leisure and entertainment all year round.

Malaga was recently voted number one city in the InterNations Expat City Ranking survey of expatriates from 181 countries, topping the list in the categories of Local Friendliness, Climate, Work-Life Balance, Work & Leisure, and the Personal Finance Index and Cost of Living, and finishing second in Quality of Life Index and Leisure Options.

Similarly, in the most recent Savills Executive Nomad Index, which ranks destinations based on their appeal and ease of access for long-term remote workers, Malaga is ranked second in the world, behind only Dubai.

The price of restaurants, travel, leisure activities and furnished apartments in Malaga is still relatively low, and the city is officially one of the safest in Europe, including for solo female travellers. The birthplace of Pablo Picasso also boasts excellent museums and sites of cultural interest. Cultural events include the week-long Malaga Fair and year-round festivals and concerts, and every neighbouring town has its own traditions and events.  Aside from the well-known coastal towns of Marbella, Torremolinos and Fuengirola, the province of Malaga also boasts many beautiful historical towns including Ronda, Frigiliana, Nerja and Mijas. The province is the second most mountainous in Spain, and is home to a number of breath-taking natural parks such as the Dolmens of Antequera, a UNESCO World Heritage site, meaning that Malaga is a popular destination for hikers and mountain bikers. Other beauty spots include the spectacular Caminito del Rey mountain walk, or the many famous caves, some of which contain important works of prehistoric rock art. And of course, the cities of Seville, Granada and Cordoba are close enough to allow day trip visits.

With a well-deserved reputation as one of the most liveable cities in the world, and thanks to the current increase in opportunities for digital nomads, there has never been a better time to move to the city. Monthly rentals in Malaga provide a gateway to the perfect base.


Malaga invests heavily in infrastructure and can boast an enviable list of world-class features. For international transportation, the city’s airport continues to break growth records, and now records the third-highest passenger volume in the country, behind only Madrid and Barcelona. The airport can easily be reached by car, train, bus or taxi from the city.

Spain’s excellent rail network connects Malaga to the rest of the country, and thanks to the AVE, one of Europe’s fastest high-speed trains, Madrid is as little as two and a half hours away. The network also allows speedy, comfortable and affordable inter-city and inter-provincial travel, making Malaga a viable alternative for people moving to Malaga who do not wish to own a car. That said, the province of Malaga is also well connected by road. Spain’s national highways, regional roads and provincial roads are now among the safest in Europe, and the province of Malaga in particular has benefited from heavy investment to improve accessibility and safety.

Finally, Malaga’s port is one of the largest transport hubs in southern Spain, benefitting from its position near the mouth of the Mediterranean and linking Spain with Africa. The port handles an ever-increasing volume of freight and cruise ship traffic.

But it is perhaps the city itself that has seen the most significant advances in transportation in recent years, with the completion of the Metro ten years ago and the recent addition of a second line and many new stations, including two within walking distance of the heart of the city. The network has now overtaken that of Seville to become Andalusia’s most-used metro.

The city centre and its surrounding neighbourhoods are highly pedestrian- and bike-friendly. The city now has over 45 kilometres of bicycle lanes, and many alternatives for bicycle and electric scooter hire, making Malaga perfect for short commutes. More and more streets have been converted into pedestrian zones, and thanks to the city’s low rainfall and mild temperatures, visitors and locals are able to spend more time out of doors.

Digital nomads looking for furnished apartments in Malaga to use as a home office will be pleased to know that the city also boasts a robust digital infrastructure. Telecommunications networks have seen tremendous growth. 5G and ADSL speeds are high, network coverage includes even most towns with fewer than 5,000 inhabitants, and there is healthy competition between ISPs, leading to reasonable pricing even for uncapped plans. Electricity prices are below the EU average.


The tertiary sector has long been the basis of Malaga’s economy, led primarily by tourism. But in recent years, there has been marked growth in other less traditional areas that call for highly qualified personnel and specialist training.

One example is Malaga TechPark (Parque Tecnológico de Andalucía), an ever-growing business centre occupying 2,000,000 square metres to the northwest of the city, which is home to around 700 tech companies focused on innovation and research including Oracle, IBM, Accenture, Huawei, and TDK. The park has had a tremendous impact on the region’s international profile, and of course on the local economy and job market.

An exciting recent development is the confirmation that Malaga TechPark will become home to the first Research and Development Centre for the Belgian company IMEC, the world’s leading laboratory for semiconductor research and development. This is the first major step in the City Council’s roadmap to becoming a major player in the semiconductor industry.

The City Council has also recently launched Malaga WorkBay, a platform to provide information and support to help digital nomads establish the city as their new base. The service includes personal guidance, a range of activities, and even networking sessions, and is available in various languages including English and German.

Coworking spaces are another area that has seen recent growth, particularly since the global pandemic. There are many reasons that a digital nomad might require office space on a temporary or regular basis, and coworking spaces can present interesting opportunities for digital nomads: a space to share ideas and collaborate or interact with people in a range of fields, or a point of contact where you can find motivation, inspiration, and even new friends.

Finance and Fintech

In this post-Brexit world, Spain has stepped up as a major player in the financial sector. Thanks to technological advancement as the driver of key changes in the sector, particularly with the rise of AI, companies based in Malaga have played a key role – from local startups to high-profile multinational companies.

Banco Santander has joined the list of multinationals choosing to call Malaga home by launching its own technology development centre to drive the bank’s digital and business transformation.

The American multinational investment bank Citigroup is another major player that has chosen Malaga in a concerted attempt to improve the work-life balance and prevent burn-out among the company’s analysts and investment bankers, who frequently work 90-hour weeks in other cities. The move was largely in response to findings that such long and stressful working weeks was causing a decline in mental and physical health in workers. The young team are encouraged to work conventional 35-hour weeks at the company’s office in the very heart of the city, albeit at a reduced salary compared to the teams in London and elsewhere. Citi sees the project as a success and is set to expand the Malaga office to include additional departments.


Perhaps the case that best represents Malaga’s growing prominence as a technological hub, which has led many to refer to the city as the Spanish Silicon Valley, is the recent inauguration of the Google Safety Engineering Center (GSEC). The North American tech giant began its relationship with the city over a decade ago with the purchase of local company VirusTotal, and more recently chose Malaga as the site for what was initially planned as their European analysis centre for cybercrime. However, the centre will finally operate as Google’s flagship global hub where its team will “work to understand the cyber threat landscape and to create tools that keep businesses, governments, and users around the world safer online”. The GSEC is situated in a remodelled historic building by the port, near the Cybersecurity Centre of Andalucia, which provides training for workers, startups and the general public, and is also the government’s operations centre for cybersecurity surveillance.


One of the effects of the influx of digital nomads moving to Malaga is that the availability of residential properties has suffered. Construction has ramped up, particularly since the global pandemic, but can barely meet demand. Malaga – just as any other city – can present challenges for non-locals and expatriates. “Executive nomads want everything ready when they move in, including furniture and internet connection,” says José Felix Perez-Peña, Savills head of Andalusia. “We’re seeing lots of new companies now catering to this market, but there aren’t enough properties available.”

Resolving the question of accommodation is usually the top priority for expatriates moving to Malaga, and the demand for furnished apartments in Malaga has never been higher. Property rentals are typically handled by local or national real estate agencies. The agency will charge a commission for acting as intermediary, which is typically either a month’s rent or 10% of the yearly rent. There is a healthy private property market, as some owners prefer to deal directly with tenants. However, in our experience, many such tenants prefer longer contracts, or will demand higher commissions for overseas tenants.

Alternatively, relocation services can be of tremendous benefit by handling everything from accommodation to residency and work permits, preparing access to the health care system, finding a school, opening a bank account, or dealing with the local council and resolving the small issues that invariably arise following a move. This can represent a tremendous relief and save significant time during what is often a stressful period during a relocation to a new country or city.

There has never been a better time to work from home, and today’s digital nomads know that home can be anywhere in the world. Few cities in the world make that proposal more appetising than Malaga, which can provide everything that a digital nomad can need or want, and more. Contact Globexs if you are considering moving to Malaga.



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