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  • Writer's pictureInvestment Synergy Team

Why Malaga is booming with British buyers

The Spanish coastal city has smartened up their act and is now known for a thriving tech sector and good value property - no wonder it´s a hit with expats of all ages.

Zoe Dare Hall -The Times

After years of hiding its light under a bushel, Malaga has unleashed its fun side. Traditional, locals-only haunts have become tourist-trail staples, whether it’s sipping sherry served straight from the barrel in the near 180-year-old Antigua Casa de Guardia, the city’s oldest bar, or tucking into a plate of boquerones fritos within the ancient Arabian arches of Atarazanas market.

Its pivotal industrial port now includes the waterfront destination of Muelle Uno, where €100 million superyachts moor alongside bars and pleasure boats. New boutique hotels with rooftop pools show off the city’s coastline. And the 30 or more museums range from the high-brow Picasso and the Centre Pompidou Malaga to the brilliantly immersive OXO, which is dedicated to video games.


Twenty years ago, Malaga was dark and dingy. It used to purely be the airport for the Costa del Sol, not a city. Then it began its regeneration, including pedestrianising the historic centre, and it has become a huge tourist attraction in its own right,” explains José Félix Pérez-Peña, head of Savills Malaga. He adds that property prices have risen by 25 per cent in the past two years.


Malaga’s airport recorded 22.3 million arrivals last year, its highest number yet (up 12.5 per cent on pre-Covid 2019, the previous record-breaking year). There has also been an increase in the number of people from all over the world who decide to make it home — a number that will doubtless by boosted by Malaga being named the best city in the world for expats by InterNations, ranking particularly highly for local friendliness, quality of life, climate and leisure options.

Its booming tech scene, bolstered by companies such as Google opening offices in the city, is driving a young demographic to seek sanctuary in the coastal city. Although Sirena Kiviranta from Strand Properties, part of estate agents LeadingRE, also reports “an increase in buyers in their fifties and sixties over the past year, planning to split their time 50 per cent in their home country and 50 per cent in Malaga”.

The attractive work-life balance and international schools such as the British School of Malaga (whose fees for 2024 are up to €9,270 a year) are also inspiring overseas families to move to the Andalusian city. 


The issue, according to Pérez-Peña, is finding somewhere decent to rent. “They are looking for two-three bedroom apartments for around €3,500 a month. But Malaga needs to grow a lot to meet the new demand and there is very little good rental accommodation. Long-term rents are a real opportunity for investors,” he says. 


Tourist lets are “another good way to go now”, he says of Malaga’s burgeoning investment opportunities. As you stroll around the historic centre and nearby Soho — a newly vibrant neighbourhood since the opening of Antonio Banderas’s theatre there — you notice lots of old buildings that have been converted into modern tourist apartments that command high nightly rents. 

“Part of the regeneration push has seen landlords who own dilapidated buildings forced to either renovate them or sell them back to the Town Hall,” Pérez-Peña explains. For those seeking similar opportunities, “you can buy apartments to renovate in Plaza de la Merced, near Picasso’s house, from around €300,000 for 100 sq m”.


Paul Radcliffe, who is something of an expert expat, having previously lived and worked in Paris, Amsterdam, Sydney and Berlin before moving to Malaga last November, is among the new wave of British buyers in the historic centre. “I came here to escape the northern European winter and now it’s where I want to spend the rest of my life,” he says.

Radcliffe, 49, has bought a two-bedroom apartment in a 19th-century building for €500,000, which entitles him to apply for residency with a golden visa. When his visa is granted, he intends to work for an estate agency.

“I’m used to the initial small challenges of moving to a foreign city, but what has stood out about Malaga is the friendliness and warmth of the people,” he says. “The day I moved into my apartment, I knocked on a Spanish neighbour’s door to ask which internet provider he uses. He rang the company for me and set the whole thing up as my Spanish was pretty poor — and that’s typical of my experiences here so far.”


Phoebe Redstone, 23, from Gloucestershire, who recently moved to Malaga for a job as a language assistant in a local primary school, has also found it easy to settle in. “The expat community is very welcoming and does it best to integrate into Spanish society rather than separate itself completely. And there are lots of options for finding work, even if you aren’t fluent in Spanish,” she says.

Redstone pays €450 a month for a room in a shared four-bedroom apartment near the city’s main train station, Maria Zambrano. “Most agents and landlords are hesitant to rent to you without you seeing the property and signing the contract in person, so it’s hard to house-hunt from a distance as places tend to go before you get here,” she says. 


She struck lucky when another tenant pulled out, and now, she says, “I love having everything I need on a day-to-day basis within walking distance of my flat, including restaurants, shops, transport and a small beach that’s more popular with locals than tourists.”


Malaga’s regeneration has gone beyond its historic centre, however. Its east side has traditionally been where wealthier residents have settled in detached houses on leafy streets in areas such as El Limonar. 

The new Clarity Malaga development, marketed by Savills, has three/four-bedroom properties from €930,900. The old fishing neighbourhood of Pedregalejo “is also a very trendy area that has gained tremendous popularity among expats in the past years”, according to Bruno Rabassa, chief executive at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices, who are marketing a new scheme of large three-bedroom townhouses 600m from the beach there from €695,000.


Value-for-money areas east of the city centre are Pinares de San Anton and El Candado, where buyers can find villas with gardens and private pools for just over €1 million, according to Rodolfo Nuñ from Lucas Fox estate agency in Malaga. One in four of their sales to foreigners in Malaga is to British buyers, he adds, and a third of those buyers are looking for primary residences.

Now, though, the focus for luxury new-build is the west side. It’s still a work in progress, but as yet undeveloped old industrial scrubland is earmarked for big new projects including a Rafa Nadal tennis centre and a campus of Madrid’s prestigious UAX university. The beachfront Malaga Towers and Sierra Blanca Tower developments have also brought the city’s first taste of super-prime, high-rise living (four-bedroom apartments at Sierra Blanca Tower are priced from €3.1 million through Engel & Volkers). 

Rabassa adds that further development including La Termica — a 25-acre industrial area whose revamp will include 800 residences among shops and green spaces — is turning this area of Playa de la Misericordia into “an emerging hotspot”.

Now the lid has been lifted on its potential, there’s no stopping Malaga — or the new surge in overseas buyers who want to call it home.

Investment Synergy - sizzling hot ! and not just the weather... it´s not just the UK that has a growing and stable property market .. the investment opportunities for buy to rent is hot hot hot in Malaga and Costa del Sol generally.


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