Malaga ranked world’s second-best city for remote work (2023)


Not just the beach and the weather. It’s the vibrancy, culture and networking opportunities offered by cities that attract high-ranking executives able to work remotely, a study shows.  . 

Malaga is on a roll. Not long ago, Forbes magazine hailed it as the best “alternative” national capital. And now in a major breakthrough it was named as a top destination in the world for remote work.  

The capital of the sunny Costa del Sol earned that distinction after getting the second-best score – after Dubai — in the Executive Nomad Index, a survey of the most attractive cities or regions in the world for high-level remote workers.  The report, which is produced annually by the real estate consultancy Savills, focuses specifically on nomadic executives.

In reaching its high ranking, Malaga beat third-place Miami and outscored such top-20 locations as Abu Dhabi, Lisbon, Barcelona, Palma de Mallorca, Malta, Antigua, Athens, Cyprus, and Tuscany.

The Executive Nomad Index evaluates each location in five key categories: speed of internet connection, quality of life, climate, air connectivity and price of high-end rental housing. In the quality-of-life segment Malaga got the highest score of the entire list (10.38), something that wouldn’t come as a big surprise for people living in the city or in nearby towns, such as Benalmadena.  Its overall score of 32.38 points was only two points behind the number one city in the ranking, Dubai. Malaga also scored high for internet connection (8.06) and in competitiveness of prime rentals (5.26).

According to Savills, in addition to high quality of life all the locations offer favorable climates all year round and have well-established first-class residential markets.

Location, affordability, digital nomad visa  
Another common trait for all the locations on the list: they either have a digital nomad visa program for remote work or are already part of a large economic bloc that allows the free movement of people to live or work.  

In 2022, Spain launched its digital nomad visa program, which “has undoubtedly helped propel Malaga” to the top of the list, noted Savills. The company added that the “city’s attractive climate, beaches, culture and gastronomy are big plus-points, but so too is its comparatively affordable rental market; costs are half those of its European competitors in the index.”

In its analysis, Savills also pointed to the convenience of the location since Málaga’s international airport is just a short distance from the city center, “a further boon for executive nomads who rely on regular travel.” A direct flight from New York to Málaga launched earlier in 2023 was another contributing factor.

Affordability combined with high quality is also a winning point from remote work perspective. Restaurants, renting and socializing in Málaga are still cheap compared with other major European cities, and people feel “safe” there, says José Felix Perez-Peña, Savills head of Andalucía.

The Google factor
In recent years, Malaga has been upping the ante as a major cultural and tourist destination, known for its superlative museums and historical old town. Now, high-profile corporate arrivals such as Google have given Málaga the seal of approval in a different sphere, notes Savills.

Google’s arrival? — What exactly is that about, one may wonder. The reference is to Google’s decision to open in Malaga its new security engineering center (GSEC) for joint research on advanced threats.

“This is going to change the rules of the game: In 2023, Malaga will become our new Google Security Engineering Center, a global centre for cybersecurity and malware research,” Google’s Head of Global Affairs, Kent Walker, said in the fall of 2022. Google’s efforts in this area are linked to its acquisition of VirusTotal, which has become the world’s leading malware scanner and repository. VirusTotal has been collaborating with Universidad de Málaga to promote the technological ecosystem and will continue its pioneering work from the new cybersecurity center of excellence.
Google’s move to establish its offices in Malaga has reinforced the city’s reputation as an important technological hub in Spain and Europe. Some are even beginning to dub it as “the Spanish Silicon Valley.” Several other major technological companies have opened offices in Malaga, including Vodafone and TDK. 

Commenting on the trend, Savill’s Perez-Peña says, “These companies are all saying that Málaga is the place to be and its reputation then spreads by word of mouth.”.

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