Retiring in Malaga, Spain | Local Spotlight

Retiring in Malaga

Malaga Offers Warm Weather, Beautiful Beaches, Beautiful History and Delicious Food

By Gonzalo Fernandez Martin - Malaga Resident

In the south of Spain, in the middle of the Costa del Sol, lies the happiest city of the world. In 2019 the Happiness Research Institute declared this Andalusian city as the happiest in the world, and it doesn't surprise us. Retiring in Malaga means living your golden years in such a happy place.

Malaga Spain Location on Map

With a Moorish past and a revolutionary twentieth-century scene, residents of Malaga have the pleasure of wandering around its marble-laid streets under the warmth of the sun. Whether it is walking around Malaga’s fashion heartland in Calle Marques de Larios, unraveling the narrow streets of the historic center, or walking through the sophisticated ‘Muelle Uno’ at the sea-front, the city never fails to amaze you.

Residents of the city never run out of reasons to stop smiling. Sandy beaches, incredible views of the Cathedral at rooftop bars, and a powerful culinary scene. Everyone waits impatiently for February to celebrate the happiest yet bizarre carnival, as the city marches together with a giant statue of a boqueron to the beach.

As the host of one of the most recognized film festivals in Spain, Malaga is a top destination. Frequented by tourists as iconic sight-seeing wonders, the citadels of the Alcazaba and Grifalbaro at the sea-side nourish the senses of anyone searching for inspiration.

Make sure to immerse yourself into the different styles of Malaga. Pay a visit to the three most important museums of the city. The contrast between Picasso’s Museum and the Centre Pompidou (a contemporary masterpiece), passing through the Carmen Thyssen, will gift you with a good understanding of how dynamic Malaga truly is.

Is Malaga Walkable? Does it Have Good Public Transportation?

You can explore Malaga’s wonderful corners and hidden spots all at a walkable distance. Yet, Malaga is a very extensive city by default. Luckily, you can reach from one point of the city to another by bus. La Alameda is one of the most important bus stops, you can change to nearly all bus lines and reach any point of the city from there.

In 2014, Malaga opened up a subway. Although it only offers two lines, it’s new and modern installations are perfect for complimenting your bus rides. Moreover, Malaga has an excellent connection with nearby cities, using the ‘Cercanias’ train you can quickly head out to Fuengirola.

What is the Local Cuisine Like in Malaga?

Although contemporary cuisine has taken over Malaga, with inventive restaurants, the city has always been grateful for its wonderful traditional taste. You might want to start your day with a Spanish style breakfast of chocolate con churros, deep-fried flour dough dipped in hot chocolate for an energetic start of the day. 

It is midday when Malaga wakes up. Restaurants buy fresh fish each day and have it available on their midday menus. You must try Malaga’s traditional fish dish, the Espeto de Sardinas, freshly grilled sardines. If you want to, do as the locals do and eat them with your hands for the full traditional experience.

Alternatively, you might want to go for the Fritura Malagueña, a combination of fried autochthonous types of fishes (including boquerones, sardines, and squids) to have a burst of flavor.

In order to give it an even better artisan touch, top your meal with an Ajo Blanco, a cold soup made with garlic, mashed almonds, bread, water, olive oil, and salt. In hot summer days, nothing is better.

To end your fantastic meal, head to the city center for a cup of coffee and a Tarta Loca or in English Crazy Pie, a traditional Malaga dessert made of puff pastry filled with cream. What characterizes this desert lies on the outside, a bold orange icing with a cherry on top.

Fun Fact

The 4th of July is celebrated every year at the Plaza del Obispo because of Spain's support of the United States' independence. Bernardo de Galvez y Madrid fought against the English in Pensacola and the City of Galveston was named after him due to his hero status.  

How is the Weather in Malaga?

Retiring in Malaga is the perfect place if you want to live in a Mediterranean paradise. Temperatures are over 64°F and reaching 86°F during the months of July and August. During the hottest months, make sure to hydrate yourself and use sunscreen, to make the most out of the beach and the pool. Although the days are hot, sunsets bring the perfect occasion to enjoy going out in the city, to eat tapas to the rhythm of the sea breeze caressing your skin.

From November to January, Malaga experiences the coldest months with temperatures reaching minimums of 46°F. However, this will not stop you from having a pleasant walk around the city, grab a light coat, and be ready to go.

Is Malaga Dog Friendly?

Retiring in Malaga with your 4-legged friends is easy. Every day, you can head to the newly built Palmeral de las Sorpresas in the promenade where you can meet with other dog owners or even have fun in some of the parks fully designed for dogs. With astonishing parks and gorgeous fountains, Malaga enables you to break away from the routine and go for a quick adventure with your pet.

However, there are some limitations when it comes to going with your pet to certain places. As a general rule, pets are not permitted in the subway nor on the beach.

Renting an apartment should not be complicated with a dog, however, it is common to find ads that explicitly mention that pets are not permitted.

You should check to see what entry requirements are in place in order to bring your pets into Spain. 

Is English Widely Spoken in Malaga?

You shouldn't have a problem in the touristy areas. However, in the city itself, you may have a bit more of a challenge. Also, the younger generation is learning more English. 

Most restaurants have English menus. However, if you choose to retire here, you may want to learn some Spanish which would help a lot. 

Becoming a Local

Although many people are not aware of this, Malaga uses very original and creative ways of naming their coffee. Whatever your favorite way of enjoying your coffee is, Malaga has found a name for it. For instance, the so-called Nube (Cloud) stands for a coffee with a lot of milk and just a little bit of coffee. Ask for a mitad y mitad for half-coffee-half-milk. You can find the founders of this very creative trend in the magnificent Constitution Square, under the name of Cafe Centra since 1910.

But beware! Outside of Malaga and its villages, they might not understand you when asking for a Nube.

Malaga is an exceptionally welcoming city, with people from all backgrounds and nationalities. While it is one of the safest cities in the Costa del Sol, we advise you not to show any valuable objects outside of the most populated areas.

Does Spain Offer a Retirement Visa?

Yes, you can get a Spanish retirement visa. You must prove you have a guaranteed annual retirement income of $30,046 (€25,560) and an additional $7,512 (€ 6,390) for each family member. 

Fun Fact

There are 45 wineries in Malaga so if you love wine, this is a great place to be!

Malaga, Spain Cost of Living Chart



Cost of Living Rank

307th out of 560 
(1 is the most expensive)

1 Bdr Apartment in City

$830 per month

1 Bdr Apartment Outside City

$610 per month

Meal for Two, Mid-Range


Bottom Line

If you want to retire in a dynamic city, with a broad array of cultural and gastronomic options under the best climate, Malaga is your city. You can not make a mistake coming to the Costa del Sol, as you will get to experience the utmost relaxation surrounded by the happiest people.

If you're interested in Spain but don't want to be by the about Madrid? Or maybe you're interested in a coastal town in Portugal. If so, Porto may be the place for you. 

Quick Facts about Retiring in Malaga, Spain 






36 ft


Shorter, humid summers with lots of sun and longer cool and windy winters. Average temps are from 45°F and 88°F

Flight time to U.S.

12.5 hours by plane to New York



Retirement Programs


Retirement Visa

Public Transportation

Buses and subway

  • Please speak with a legal representative in regards to residency requirements, taxes and healthcare options for the location of your choice. 
About the Author Guest Blogger

Our guest bloggers are retirees or residents living in cities around the world. They're giving insider perspective to what it's like to live and retire in various places.