How I chose the province of Malaga for expatriation…..
Having lived for many years in France and the Caribbean, I’d like to explain how I ended up on the Costa del Sol. One year later, I’m happy to have made the move…..I will tell you the criterias I had on mind while choosing my city of expatriation:
1- A mild weather and the sea
3- An expat community
4- An international airport
5- Political and economic stability
6- An efficient health system
7- Staying within Europe
8- A cultural and gastronomic offer
9- Less stress
10- Easy learning of the local language
Great life quality🌞
The Caribbean is warm all year round and above all I had the possibility to take a dip in the sea after a hard day of work. In Spain, this is definitely possible on summer and settling here you benefit from 300 days / 365 of sunshine to capitalise on vitamin D, well known for boosting the immune system.
From June, it is common to see beach volleyball, paddle or other water sports enthusiasts enjoying their leisure time.
The Mediterranean Sea, unlike the Atlantic Ocean, allows bathing from July onwards as the water temperature reaches 23°. The province is ideal for sports enthusiasts as cycling or jogging can be enjoyed all year round along the coast. As a reminder, there is a coastal path that runs 200 km along the province of Málaga to Marbella.
Furthermore, between the mountains and the sea, nature is breathtaking whether you are in the middle of the El Torcal nature reserve in Malaga or watching the sunrise or sunset on the seafront. I love that Málaga is a human scale city with a natural park like the Sierra de las Nieves or white Andalusian villages on the doorsteps where the peace and beauty leave you speechless.
Feeling safe 👮♂️
I decided to flee France in 2019 when the first social tensions arose due to the movement of the yellow jackets. I found myself in the middle of a guerrilla war between the police armed with tear gas that prevented me from breathing and aggressive yellow waistcoats. And in the middle of all this I felt a great feeling of insecurity. When the crisis lasts a month or two that can be understandable but when it lasts more than a year as a citizen you have the right to be perplexed. While I am writing this article there have been riots in the main French cities with vandalized shops, burnt cars and clashes between police and citizens.
Before setting foot in Malaga, I had chosen to travel on my own to various cities in Spain (Alicante, Valencia, Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, …) I never felt insecure and whenever I needed information from the locals, they always took the time to inform me. In fact, Spain is one of the countries with the lowest homicide rate in the OECD.
As an anecdote, in Barcelona I approached the police for a theft of my passport and I can guarantee you that they took care to help me and even speak English because I didn’t speak a word of Spanish. At the same time in France, for the same case I would have wasted a lot of time waiting for any help according to the testimony of a friend for the same type of petty crime.
A large expat community within Europe 🙋♀️🙋♂️
When starting out in a country as a foreigner it is good to get closer to the expat community. Andalusia has been chosen by many people for expatriation, and it is not unusual for a city to have more than 10% foreigners. An excellent example of this mix is the town of Fuengirola (a small town of 10 km) where more than 50 nationalities live: Finnish, Swedish, English, Moroccans, Americans, Italians, Russians, etc.
Arriving in the 1970s, the Finnish community has been present in the province with around 20,000 in Malaga and more than 5,000 in Fuengirola where they have created small businesses and even a church.
For a child, living around Malaga is synonymous with openness to the world with this cultural mix. Indeed, this was confirmed to me by a teacher from a secondary school in Marbella who told me that he worked with children from more than 52 countries. When I arrived in Marbella, I could see for myself that it was more difficult to meet Spaniards to practise Spanish than English speakers (my native language being French).
As I lived in the Caribbean and experienced how expensive it was to go back to France to see the family (especially during high season when the price of plane tickets reaches 1000 €) I wanted to stay in Europe and have an international airport nearby which is the case of Malaga which serves more than 60 countries all over the world.
Political and economic overview💶
Spain is a politically stable country. Strikes are more frequent in Barcelona for their desire for independence. For the past year in Malaga, I have only heard of one strike from teachers against a school reform compared to one a week in France. From this point of view, I think we are quite lucky.
Spain is the fifth largest economy in the European Union and the thirteenth largest economy in the world. However, there are big differences between the autonomous regions, especially between the North and the South. The regions of the Basque, Madrid, Navarre, Catalonia and Aragon have the greatest concentration of wealth, and Andalusia is at the bottom of the list for its level of GDP.
For several years now, Malaga has been attracting talent through its business park, whose figures are :
– 636 companies operating in the main sectors of digital, communication, IT engineering, electrical, transport, etc.
– 20,000 employees
– 2000 million turnover
– 150 start up
– 60 international firms for more than 30 nationalities
The rest of the towns around Malaga live from tourism with a range of hotels, tourist residences and holiday rental villas. The unemployment rate is higher in Andalusia than the rest of Spain. At the moment, the unemployment rate in Malaga is around 25%, with more than 70,000 unemployed for a total population of 574,654. In view of the current crisis, if you wish to move to the region, I advise you to either find a job from your country of origin (working remotely from the Costa del Sol is great) or to create your own business.
Quick overview of the health system👩⚕️👨⚕️
As a member of the EU, Spain has a health agreement with all European countries. For my part, before leaving France I applied for a European health card which allows me to receive free treatment in public hospitals. Despite the very long waiting time, the hospital on the Costa del Sol in Marbella offers basic care even if for very specific pathologies the private system is recommended, especially the Quiron hospital in Marbella which has an excellent reputation.
Malaga, a cultural city🎵🎷
Málaga has a growing cultural offer. A series of concerts, festivals (the jazz festival at the beginning of November and the film festival in June) mark cultural life all year round. There are many local fiestas: the carnival at the end of February followed by the famous Easter procession around the 5th of April then Málaga feria in August.
Malaga is the birthplace of the famous painter Picasso, so its museum as well as the Pompidou Centre offers exhibitions all year round with free admission every Sunday from 6pm to 8pm.
To conclude, why did I mention that it is easier learning Spanish. Because as a Latin language if you start from French or Italian, you will master the language after a few months. If you are an English speaker, there are several language exchange meetup and associations offering free Spanish courses to help foreigners integrate. Moreover, believe me, I knew very few words when I settled here but Andalusians are generally conciliatory even when you make mistakes. Wouldn’t the main thing be to try !
Malaga, a gastronomic city 🥘
Coming from France, I was also demanding about gastronomy, but I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the Mediterranean cuisine which is inspired by the Orient but also by restaurants of world cuisine.
Indeed, you can eat paella as well as sushi, poké bowls, Thai, Italian or Indian. Drinks are 30% cheaper when I compare with France and for restaurants there is something for every budget. I haven’t found yet an African restaurant, fortunately I know some recipes!
If you are like me into healthy cuisine, you should know that Mediterranean cuisine with olive oil is known to keep healthy (we understand why a centenarian lives in Fuengirola lol) . You will discover exotic fruits with a tasty taste such as cherimoya, persimmon or mango, which to my great surprise did not come from Africa but from Andalusia and whose taste brought back memories of my childhood.
If you come from a big city, you will be surprised by the common practice in Andalusia of sobremesa. What is it? It’s the fact of starting lunch from 2pm (don’t forget that Spanish are still out of step with the rest of Europe – they have lunch later than the neighbours) and chat all afternoon over tapas. In short, sobremesa is like a brunch in France because here time is savoured. Far from stress, Andalusians are unwittingly adept at slow life lol
Ready to discover the province of Malaga? I hope so 😊