The Times ‘Bricks and Mortar’ section on 25th March 2022 featured Malaga, highlighting the city’s recent investment and development and focussing on the attractiveness of its property market. The article is transcribed below
The Southern Spanish city of Malaga has undergone a remarkable renaissance. Once little more than a gritty port town, it has transformed itself into an art-filled destination offering year-round sunshine, excellent transport links and sublime food.
And it’s not just tapas-hungry tourists who are discovering its charms: big business has arrived too. In January Vodafone opened its European Research and Development Centre in Malaga while Google chose the city for its Cybersecurity centre. Citigroup is the latest to join in, announcing this month that it is setting up a Malaga office in a bid to woo junior investment bankers with the city’s ‘unique and compelling lifestyle proposition.
Its appeal is clear to Joanna Styles, 56, who traded London for the Costa del Sol in 1989: “Malaga has a very welcoming, comfortable vibe. It’s a manageable city that’s close to great countryside. You live an outdoors lifestyle. You don’t need a car – the high speed train connects you city centre to city centre with Madrid in two and a half hours and with Barcelona in five. Malaga is also a beach city. While they are not the best beaches in Spain, its wonderful to have them in the centre. There’s almost too much going on, with great culture, festivals, concerts, art exhibitions, Christmas lights and a very special foodie scene.
This year-round lifestyle meant that Malaga fared better in lockdown than cities that were reliant on seasonal tourism. “while Marbella was totally dead, the large population in Malaga meant the city kept going” Styles says. “It was certainly hard for many businesses but the small local shops – the independent butchers and bakers and delis – they’re all still here.”
Joanna and her Malagueno husband raised their two daughters on the Costa del Sol. They have lived for the past six years on the west side of the city close to the park, where she goes running three times per week. She works as a copywriter and runs Guide to Malaga (guidetomalaga.com), an information-packed resource for visitors and relocators alike.
“Malaga used to be just about the airport, the gateway to the Costa del Sol, and even Spanish people rarely came here,” Styles says. “now it’s a destination in its own right. Helped by the political will to showcase the city and investment, it has found its own voice.
Malaga is nicknamed ‘the city of the museums’ because of its large number of cultural institutions, with the Picasso Museum probably the most famous attraction. Opened in 2003 to celebrate the place where the artist was born in 1881, it soon became Andalucia’s most visited museum.
It is only one of the many treasures though, with more than 30 galleries and museums dotted throughout the city, including the Museo Carmen Thyssen Malaga and the Museum of Malaga, which are both housed in exquisite historic buildings.
Most vivid of all is the Pompidou Centre, the first one outside France. The multi-coloured glass cube on the tree-lined waterfront at Muelle Uno sits alongside the remains of a Roman amphitheatre, the 10th century Gibralfaro Castle, the Moorish Alcazaba fortress and the bull ring. After years of lying derelict, the nearby Palacio Solecio has been restored and is now an elegant boutique hotel in the pedestrianised old town.
“After Madrid and Barcelona, Malaga is the main focus for real estate investment in Spain” says Jose Felix Perez-Pena Garrido of Savill’s Andalucia office. “The resale market continues to dominate transaction numbers, but the amount of new construction is clearly growing, increasing from a market share of 11 per cent pre Covid to 20-30 per cent now.”
The property portal Kyero puts the average price of a one to two bedroom apartment in Malaga at €250,000 with three to four bedroom homes – mainly villas – at €800,000. “As well as being a technology hub, Malaga has become popular with younger digital nomads, partly due to the many lifestyle benefits, not least the 300 days of sunshine each year, combined with great transport links,” says Lousie Dell, a co-founder of Kyero.
“Sought after locations include the historic centre where you’ll have plenty of authentic Spanish culture on your doorstep. Soho, once a seedy area, has undergone a regeneration over the past ten years and is now home to trendy cafes, loft apartments and art galleries. Those looking for a gentler pace of life and a little luxury, a villa with a pool for example, tend to head east of the city. Pinares de San Anton is an up-and-coming location where several new upmarket villa urbanisations are being built.”
Need to know:
There are no restrictions for non-EU citizens buying property in Spain. If the purchase is more than €500,000 then you are eligible for a golden visa. The permit lasts for two years and, if you spend less than six months in Spain, you just pay taxes on your assets in the country. It also allows free movement throughout the Schengen area. When buying a new build there is a 10 per cent VAT on the value of the property and an additional 1.5 per cent legal documentation tax. If buying a resale you will have to pay the transfer tax, or ITP in Spanish, which is levied on a sliding scale depending on the purchase price.