A digital nomad guide to Malaga, Costa Del Sol – Spain

With beautiful beaches, amazing seafood and practically year round sun – it’s easy to see why you may be considering Malaga as your next digital nomad destination. Whilst the Costa Del Sol attracts over 13 million visitors a year, most are northern europe ‘sun seekers’, escaping the cold and miserable weather of their homelands. They head to the popular Costa Del Sol beach towns such as Torremolinos, Benalmadena and Marbella, leaving the city of Malaga feeling like a traditional Spanish city rather than an overrun holiday resort.

 

Despite not being the main tourist attraction of the Costa Del Sol, Malaga is certainly a noteworthy destination in its own right. The city centre boasts wonderful architecture, restaurants of every cuisine imaginable, large plazas filled with busy pavement cafes, many museums and so much more. Malaga City also has broad busy beaches – that are generally filled up with Spanish locals rather than the tourist hordes.

 

The digital nomad scene in Malaga is somewhat in its infancy – but it’s certainly growing. You only have to look at the DN forums or subreddits to see how interest in Malaga as a nomad destination is growing.

 

Is Malaga a good place for digital nomads?

Positive reasons why Malaga is a great Digital Nomad Destination.

Weather

The weather is certainly a draw for many – the summer days are long and hot, spring and autumn are still beach weather – and even the winter months get plenty of sunshine (dry and sunny, but not “hit the beach” weather).   

This enviable  weather, means you can head to Malaga at any time of the year and not be stuck in doors. Obviously they do get some wet and miserable weeks – but they are few and far between (but unfortunately, not very predictable).

 

Food

Whether you’re a digital nomad that likes to splash out eating in fancy restaurants, snack at cheap places, or stay at home and cook for yourself – Malaga caters well.

In the centre of Malaga you’ll find many “menu del dia” places that offer a 3 course lunch with bread and a drink (beer or small wine) – all for around 8.50-12 euros. Lunch is the main meal of the day for the locals, so expect places to be rammed packed with a lively atmosphere. 

You’ll also find all of the usual suspect chain restaurants such as McDonalds, Burger King & Subway, – plus some super cheap Spanish chains, such as 101 montaditos (that is especially popular for the ridiculously cheap pints of Cerveza!) and budget pizza chain Pomodoro, where you can grab a full pizza or burrito for just 3.90 euros!!!.

For nomads that like to prepare food at home, local supermarkets are plentiful and excellent prices can be had, especially for meat and fresh fruit and vegetables (ready meals are not hugely popular). Lild is generally the cheapest supermarket in Malaga, but Mercadona has a better range of products and not considerably more expensive. 

If you follow a vegan / plant based diet, just 5 years ago Malaga would have been a no go destination, but now it’s fantastic for plant-based eating, with new vegan restaurants popping up all over the place and even a vegan supermarket.

Hugely popular dish to eat on the Malaga beaches - Espeto,
Hugely popular dish to eat on the Malaga beaches – Espeto

 

Transport

The city centre of Malaga is ‘walkable’ and if reasonably fit, you can see all of the city centre without the need to be jumping on trains or buses. 

With the centre being small, if you’re staying in Malaga for a few months, you’ll certainly want to be using the local transport to head out of the city. Buses and trains are frequent, easy to understand and not too expensive.

If you don’t want to walk around the centre of Malaga (or just want it to be more fun), you can rent a Lime e-scooter to hop about, and pay per journey. 

The Cercanías Málaga (local commuter train) – runs from the centre of Malaga, all the way down the coast to Fuengirola. If you are ever short of something to do in Malaga, you can jump on this train and check out any of the stops along the way, with most of them being lively resorts within their own right. 

The train offers a monthly ticket, ideal for longer stays, but it is a bit of a hassle to obtain, having to fill out a long form (available only in Spanish), and having photos taken etc. These can be obtained from any of the train stations with a manned ticket office.

You can save a lot of money on buses by buying a pack of 10 tickets, strangely, these can only be obtained from Tobacco shops (Estancos). Don’t be buying any cigarettes whilst you’re there, por favor.

A few reasons why Malaga might not be the best Digital Nomad destination for you.

Accommodation

Whilst the centre of Malaga doesn’t have the same seasonality price fluctuations as the nearby beach resorts –  prices are still high due to demand from locals and the student market. 

If you want an entire place to yourself, Airbnb remains your best, if not only, option. Spanish landlords are very sceptical to rent short term, and those that do consider will want full rent upfront for the whole duration of your stay, and hefty deposits, that can sometimes be difficult to get back. 

If you’re happy to rent a room in a shared apartment, you’ll probably find the cheapest options on Facebook in Malaga housing groups. Without teaching you to suck eggs, it’s highly recommended not to book these without seeing them first, obviously to avoid scams, but also because the standards and cleanliness of some places might not be up to your usual standards.

Generally in Malaga, the accommodation standards are low compared to other major European cities, unless you move into the high end / luxury market.

Lack of “work from Cafe” Culture

Whilst you’ll find coffee shops and bars everywhere you look, it’s not really the culture yet in Malaga to pull out your laptop and spend a few hours working. Most places are busy and noisy (so not really conducive to productive work anyway) –  and the owners expect you to move along and make way for a new paying customer as soon as you’ve finished your consumption. You don’t often even see people spending hours working in the Malaga Starbucks!

So, if you have a preference of working from coffee shops, Malaga might not be the best nomad destination for you, as you’ll either need to work from home or head to one of the Malaga Co-Working places (more info below).

10 of your Digital Nomad in Malaga Questions answered.

 

What is the Wi-Fi / Internet like in Malaga?

Home broadband speeds are nearly always fast and reliable – you’ll have no issues working with the speeds. You do want to ensure that your accommodation includes internet, as mobile data plans are expensive (compared to UK/USA) – you won’t find unlimited sim data plans to allow you to work without worrying about usage costs.

To obtain a local sim card – you’ll need to take your passport and proof of address. Yoigo is our recommendation for ease of use / cost etc.

 

Are there coworking spaces in Malaga?

Yes, there are co-working spaces of all different vibes across the city and new ones popping up all the time.

If you’re looking for great wifi and the cheapest price, we recommend taking a look at BeWorking that is just 70 euros per month! 

Other notable co-working spaces to take a look at in the centre of Malaga are:

This is by no means a definitive list of the co-working spaces in Malaga – head over to Google Maps to find the ones closest to your accommodation.

 

Can I get by not speaking Spanish in Malaga?

The Costa Del Sol is very adapted to tourism and English is widely spoken. The beach resorts along the coast are more “English Speaking Friendly” than the city of Malaga itself – but you can still easily “get by”  in Malaga using English alone. 

Most food menus in the bigger restaurants have English versions, the smaller ones you might have to do a bit of google translating to order.

All of the organised tours available on Costa Del Sol are available in the English language.

For anything more formal (Banking, Immigration Office etc) – you are quite unlikely to find an English speaking member of staff and will need to take a translator if you don’t speak Spanish.

If you want to improve your Spanish whilst in Malaga – AIL Malaga offers an excellent 4 week course for just 95 euros.

 

Is it easy to meet other people / make friends in Malaga?

The Spanish are very open and friendly and are super easy to have a chat with whilst out and about living your daily life, but obviously, by adulthood have their own social groups in place – and are not out in bars looking to make new long term friends. 

Your time in Malaga doesn’t need to be lonely, there are many meetup groups, other tourists and international students looking to make friends and socialise. Younger nomads that like to party, will have the most success in finding their crowd in Malaga.

 

Are there gyms without long contracts that I can use in Malaga?

Don’t worry, you won’t have to leave your workout routine behind when you visit Malaga. There are plenty of gyms dotted around the city that will allow you to either pay daily or arrange a contract for a month or two.

With the weather being so agreeable,  you want to be doing your cardio (running / skating / biking) down the beach promenade, and not stuck on a stationary machine!

Be sure to check out our recommended Gyms on the Costa Del Sol.

 

Is Malaga safe for a digital nomad?

Malaga is probably the top safest big city in Spain, so you don’t have to panic massively about your safety. Just take the usual precautions that one should take, especially avoiding being pick pocketed at busy tourist sites and not wandering around alone in the middle of the night.

 

Which is the best Malaga neighbourhood to stay in?

As previously mentioned, Malaga isn’t a huge city, so no matter where you stay you will be able to explore the city to its full potential. Here are a few pointers that may help choose the right neighbourhood in Malaga to stay in for you:

 

Malaga Old Town / Merced: Absolutely gorgeous, but can get super noisy during the weekend (and all night until the morning, the Spanish don’t end the party at 0200). Also staying in the old town can start to feel a bit too much after a few weeks, being that as soon as you step out of your door it’s loud, busy and in your face.

You’ll find apartments on Airbnb for Merced – great location but be wary of the noise!

La Trinidad / Carlos Haya – On first impressions, you might feel that this hood feels a bit unsafe, but you’ll soon settle in and come to love the charm of being in a working class,s friendly Spanish neighbourhood, with lots of great bars and cafes on your doorstep. The city centre is just a 15 min walk or 5 min bus ride.

Renfe – The residential area surrounding Maria Zambrano train station. Not the most charming area, but it is clean, quiet and calm -clearly  a great location if you intend to be doing a lot of travelling in the region from the train Station

Teatinos – Full of students and all of the pros (cheap drinks)  and cons (students)  that come with living in studentville! 

You do find a lot of newer built apartments in this area that are less “chintzy” than the apartments in the “older” neighbourhoods.

La Malagueta: Posher upmarket vibes and prices are super high for apartments in the area surrounding Malagueta beach, as such restaurants and shops nearby will also be on the more expensive end.

If money is no object, knock yourself out, but if you want beach life without breaking the bank, consider staying a bus ride out of the city, perhaps in El Palo or Pedregalejo.

 

How much do I need to budget for food for a month?

This has so many variants such as quality of food and how much you eat – but as a rough guide: you eat breakfast out, typically a Pitufo y Cafe (Sandwich & coffee) costing you around 3 euros. Lunch is your big meal of the day, opting for a “menu del dia” – these range from 8 euros to 20 euros, so lets say 12 euros. Still recovering from your big lunch, eat a smaller simple dinner at home, with ingredients from the local supermarket (maybe a salad or pre-made tortilla), for around 2 euros – this would make your daily monthly food spend 17 euros a day or 510 euros a month.

Cook all of your meals at home, and you could easily bring your monthly food budget in Malaga down to 200 euros a month – especially if you’re travelling as a couple and can split the food bill.

 

Which is the best month to visit Malaga as a digital nomad?

The best month to travel to Malaga depends on your budget and your preferred activities. 

July & August – The most expensive time to travel due to the influx of tourists wanting to hit the many wonderful beaches. So whilst you’ll pay more, the city will be at its most vibrant and there’ll be endless fiestas and events to enjoy. 

August is when the crazy “Feria de Agosto” takes place – basically the whole city takes a week off work to….. well, get shit-faced. 

It can get VERY hot (40s+) – so make sure you book a place with A/C  –  don’t presume everywhere will..

Nov-Apr –  The cheapest time to travel in terms of accommodation spend, and it is still a fantastic time to visit. 

Whilst the mass-tourism vibe has gone, the city is by no means sleepy and you’ll find that Malaga takes on a more authentic Spanish city vibe. 

You can spend weekdays sitting in the sun by the beach eating amazing seafood (albeit wearing a cardi), then perhaps take the bus to Granada on the weekend to hit the slopes skiing!

May / June, Sept / Oct – Probably the best all round time to visit Malaga as a nomad is either just before or just after the main summer peak. Accommodation prices will be around 40-50% less that August, but the weather will still be hot enough to pull out the speedos/bikini and top up your tan.   

 

How long should I spend as a nomad in Malaga?

You could see all of the highlights of Malaga in around 10 days, see the best of Malaga and most of the Costa del sol in a month or two – or spend 10 years and still not have seen everything that the vast and exciting region of Andalucia has to offer.

Most non EU nomads will have 90 days “visa allowance” – and you could easily spend all of this in Malaga and not get bored, especially if you use weekends to go and explore other cities not too far, such as Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Gibraltar etc – even Madrid is only a 2 hour 50 min train ride away if you pay the premium for high speed Renfe.

 

If after reading our digital nomad Malaga guide you feel we have missed any important questions or info out, please get in touch and let us know, we will be happy to add any additional points!

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