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Malaga, voted the second best city in the world for remote working
Digital nomads

Malaga, voted the second best city in the world for remote working

The city bursts onto the Executive Nomad Index ranking, headed by Dubai, with quality of life as its main asset

Nuria Triguero

Malaga

Saturday, 19 August 2023, 21:50

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The pandemic and the digital revolution have ignited the phenomenon of digital nomads. The possibility of living and working from anywhere in the world is no longer a privilege of some professionals in the technology sector; now many workers and managers in all types of sectors have become expatriates.

The Executive Nomad Index report, a ranking of the most attractive cities or regions in the world for high-level remote workers, produced annually by the real estate consultancy Savills, focuses specifically on nomadic executives. Malaga city breaks into this list for the first time, in second position, after Dubai and above Barcelona and Palma de Mallorca.

The ranking of the twenty best locations in the world for remote workers is: Dubai, Malaga, Miami, Abu Dhabi, Lisbon, Barbados, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Algarve, Saint Lucia, Cayman Islands, Dubrovnik, Malta, Antigua, Côte d'Azur, Mauritius, Athens, Cyprus, Bahamas and Tuscany.

The visibility gained by Malaga as a result of Google's commitment to the cirt and the knock-on effect it has had on other multinationals (Vodafone, Citi, Globant, among many others) is key to understanding its dazzling entry into this international ranking. But apart from the obvious hype, the city offers solid reasons to attract the "wave of executives converted into digital nomads since the pandemic" cited in the report.

The Executive Nomad Index gives each city a score in five sections: speed of internet connection, quality of life, climate, air connectivity and price of high-end rental housing. Malaga achieved a total score of 32.38 points, only two points less than the number one city in the ranking, Dubai. Malaga scored the highest score of the entire list (10.38) for quality of life. Its score was also high (8.06) for internet connection and in competitiveness of prime rentals (5.26). Climate scored an average (4.45), above Dubai or Abu Dhabi but below tropical destinations such as Barbados, Cayman Islands, St Lucia or Miami.

All the locations included in this ranking have "a digital nomad visa programme or equivalent, or are already part of a large economic bloc that allows the free movement of people to live or work; they offer favourable climates all year round, a high quality of life and have established, first class, residential markets", according to Savills.

The report highlighted how Malaga has been "upping the ante in recent years as a major cultural and tourist destination, known for its superlative museums and beautiful old city". "The arrival of high-profile companies such as Google has given Malaga the seal of approval. All these companies say Malaga is the place to be and their reputation spreads by word of mouth," said José Félix Pérez-Peña, director of Savills Andalucía.

The report noted that the launch of Spain's digital nomad visa in 2022 "has undoubtedly helped propel Malaga" to break into second place in the ranking. "The city's attractive climate, beaches, culture and gastronomy are big plus points, but so is its comparatively affordable rental market; costs are half those of its European competitors in the index. Malaga's international airport is within easy reach of the city centre, an added bonus for executive nomads who rely on regular travel. Savills reminded that a direct flight from New York to Malaga was launched earlier this year.

Restaurant prices, rents and everyday life in Malaga remain cheap compared to other major European cities, and people feel "safe" in the city, Pérez-Peña added.

While the upper classes have traditionally gravitated towards large villas in the eastern part of the city, the western coast has become "the new focus of regeneration and flagship developments", according to Savills, which cites Sierra Blanca Tower, whose prices have set a new benchmark for Malaga at around 10,000 euros per square metre. The report specified that typical prime residential rents are 15-22 euros per square metre, but admitted that there are not enough homes in this range to meet demand.

"Executive nomads want everything to be ready when they move in, including furniture and internet connection," said Pérez-Peña. "We are seeing a lot of start-ups now catering to this market, but there are not enough properties available," he added.

Pérez-Peña said that there is also a shortage of high-quality offices and coworking spaces to cater for all the nomadic workers who are turning their sights on Malaga. "We haven't been building enough to meet the demand," he said.

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