The Cost of Living in Málaga

Málaga is a city with loads to offer for English teachers, and we’re not just talking about work opportunities: plenty of sunshine, a huge international airport and a bustling city center. Thinking of living in the Costa del Sol’s capital? Amy breaks down the costs.

Name: Amy Dell

City and Comunidad: Málaga

Amy in Malaga

School: I spent 3 years as an auxiliar – two in elementary schools and one in a high school. Now I work full-time for a private English academy.

Your living situation? I share a two bedroom, one bathroom apartment with my partner near the university area of Málaga, Teatinos.

How did you find your flat? Lots of searching online! Before the lease on our previous apartment was up I spent about three weeks scouring Idealista, Enalquiler, and Milanuncios. I visited maybe four or five apartments before deciding on this one.

Rent: Rent is 450€/month.

What did you spend on utilities? It varies by season and how much we use the air conditioner and heater, but I’d say in total maybe 80€ for butane, electricity, and water.

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You cell phone company and plan? I have an unlocked smart phone [from the US], and my plan is through Tuenti. For 10€ a month I get 1GB of data and 75 minutes. SMS aren’t necessary because everyone uses Whatsapp for messaging.

What do you pay for internet? Our internet is through Ono, and it’s fiber optic, which is great. For about 38€ a month we get 20Mbps, and it’s really reliable. We also have a landline and calls to other landlines in Spain are free.

What did you spend on groceries? My partner and I together spend maybe 250-300€ a month on groceries, so my share would be about half of that.

Did you have any other sources of income? As an auxiliar I did tons of private classes, sometimes making up to 500€ extra a month. But now it’s a bit of a relief to only have one job that pays enough!

Were you able to save any money? Ha this is my weak point! I really should be able to save more than I do. More money than is really necessary goes towards pampering my two dogs and two cats, and eating out.

Your favorite tapas bar? My favorite tapas bar has to be Gato con Botas (Calle Santiago near the Roman theatre). They have tapas from all over the world, and I absolutely die for their ensaladilla persa, chile con carne, and curry chicken. In the winter spiced mulled wine is great, but for me it’s usually a tubo or una jarra of beer to share among friends. Tapas are 2-4€ and a tubo I think is 1.70€.

Tapas in Malaga

For something cheap and simple, Chopp is great. For 2€ you get a drink and a decent sized tapa. There’s one in the center off of Plaza Uncibay, and another by the bus station.

Your breakfast and coffee bars suggestions: I’m not much of a breakfast person, but I like La Cueva with great views of the Alcazaba. You can’t go wrong with tostada con tomate and oil. You’ll get that plus coffee or Colacoa for less than 3€.

Nightlife in Málaga: It’s been ages since I’ve been out to the discos in Málaga, but one that’s quite unique is ZZ Pub. It’s not so much a nightclub as a great bar with a rock vibe. They often have live music on weekends. There’s no cover, and I think copas are about 5€ while beer is cheaper.

How did you get around? I have a monthly unlimited bus pass which gets me everywhere. For me it’s 40€/month, but if you’re under 26 then it’s only 27€. The metro in Málaga just opened in July with two lines connecting the west part of the city. It’s great for now and I’ll use it occasionally, but I really hope it keeps expanding. It’s 1.35€ per trip, or 0.82€ per trip if you buy a bono.

What you loved about living in Málaga? Difficult question, there are so many things I love! The friendly people, the beautiful city center, abuelos walking with their hands behind their back or playing checkers at the bar, families with children being out at the bar until past midnight in the summer. I’ve fallen in love with Málaga so much that I got my boyfriend to move here from Granada!

And your dislikes? The humidity! Although it’s nothing compared to what I’ve experienced in New Orleans, Florida, etc, I much prefer dry heat to the humid summer here. In the summer you feel like you need to shower again the moment you step outside.

How easy was it to travel around Spain and Europe from your city? Málaga has the biggest airport in Andalucía and is very well-connected throughout Spain and Europe. They even have direct flights to New York now. For within Spain, Renfe (trains) and Alsa (buses) get you just about everywhere.

Your guilty pleasure purchases: Definitely bars, and I’m not talking copas and getting drunk. I think Málaga is best enjoyed sitting on a terrace or at a chiringuito (beach bar) with a beer in hand, a dish of olives, and a tapa or ración of fried fish. I could do that every afternoon and not get tired of it.

View of Malaga

What are the top attractions in Málaga? I always take visitors up to the top of Gibralfaro, the Moorish castle dating back to the 10th century, and the Alcazaba, the military fortress protecting it. They’re comparable in grandeur to Granada’s ever-famous Alhambra, but at a fraction of the price and with far fewer tourists. But the best part is the view from the very top of Málaga’s port, bull ring, and coast.

Málaga’s art museums (Picasso, Thyssen, CAC) are worth a visit, but won’t leave you very impressed if you’ve seen those in Madrid or Barcelona.

If you love history as much as I do you also need to see the Roman theatre. There’s a small exhibit before you can walk inside the theatre, but take your time in the exhibit. It has tons of fascinating information about the theatre and its history.

Something you wish someone had told you before moving to Spain: Relax and don’t get frustrated when things don’t fit into your American (or where ever you’re from) mindset. My boyfriend laughs at me when all the time when he sees me about to explode over something not going how I want it to go. Spain truly is different. Also, when dealing with functionaries (civil servants), kill them with kindness. It quite often works.

Amy kept a helpful blog about her auxiliar experience, Teach Learn Run, though she traded the typing for volunteering with animals in her spare time! She’s also active on Instagram.

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