Spain’s Málaga voted second best city in the world for foreign residents 

Málaga has been voted the world's second best city overall to live in if you're a foreign resident and the first for cost of living, making friends and socialising, a new survey by Internations has found. 

The beautiful and historic city of Málaga offers foreign resident an affordable and happy lifestyle. Photo:  Jonas Denil/Unsplash
The beautiful and historic city of Málaga offers foreign resident an affordable and happy lifestyle. Photo: Jonas Denil/Unsplash

If you’re considering a move to southern Spain or you’re based in the Costa del Sol already, you may be happy to hear this.

Málaga, a city of 569,000 residents which gave the world Picasso and grilled sardines on a stick, has been voted as the second best city for foreign residents to live and work in 2021, in a study by the world’s largest expat community forum Internations. 

The Andalusian city came second only to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and beat other cities of the likes of Dubai, Sydney, Singapore, Prague and Basel in a ranking that included 57 international cities. 

Crucially, Málaga ranks third in the Getting Settled Index and first in the Friends and Socializing Subcategory, with 69 percent of respondents saying they find it easy to make new friends in the city (vs. 48 percent globally), and 78 percent saying they’re happy with their social life (vs. 57 percent globally). 

Málaga also came first in the world in the Local Cost of Living Index, with 86 percent of foreign residents rating this positive. 

It does very well in the Finance & Housing Index (5th) too, with foreign residents considering housing both affordable (67 percent vs. 42 percent globally) and easy to find (70 percent vs. 60 percent globally). 

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Making friends in Málaga is easy for most foreign residents. Photo: Nicolas Vigier/Flickr

Many of those surveyed described locals, known as malageños, as friendly (86 percent vs. 69 percent globally) and towards foreign residents in particular (82 percent vs. 67 percent globally). 

Coming 15th in the Quality of Urban Living Index, Málaga earns another top rank in the Leisure & Climate Subcategory (first). 

Not a single foreign resident of this coastal city (0 percent) said they were unhappy with the weather (vs. 17 percent globally), and 86 percent rate the local leisure options favourably (vs. 72 percent globally). 

“Málaga has everything to offer for downtime,” one Australian resident told Internations. 

However, as we’ve written about previously on The Local, Malaga and Spain as a whole aren’t always the destination of choice for those looking to further their careers.

The southern city lands in the bottom ten of the Urban Work Life Index (51st), 32nd in the Work-Life Balance Subcategory, almost rock bottom in the Job & Career (56th) and very low in the Job Security Subcategories (50th).

READ MORE: The downsides of moving to Spain for work

People stroll along one of Málaga’s pedestrian shopping streets. Photo: ODD ANDERSEN/AFP

It’s therefore a more ideal relocation destination for those who have a remote job or business they can do from a distance in Málaga and those who don’t have to worry about work, such as pensioners.

Incidentally, Spain is the only country with two cities in top ranking, as Madrid came in tenth place overall. The Spanish capital also ranked high for Quality of Urban Living and Settling In and Local Cost of Living, although again it did not score very high for work.

Barcelona came in 29th place overall out of the 57 cities that make up the Expat City Ranking 2021, although respondents’ Happiness Level in the Catalan city was still very high (83 percent). 

 So there you have it: a move to the beautiful and historic city of Málaga, which offers a more authentic experience of Spanish life than other locations along the Costa del Sol, could be what you need if you’re after an active social life, low cost of living, friendly people and great weather.

READ MORE: Moving to Spain will make you happier and healthier (but there’s a downside)

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Can I get my padrón online in Spain?

The padrón certificate is a handy multipurpose document you receive when you register with your local town hall in Spain. It can often be frustrating having to apply for it in person, so are you able to apply online instead?

Can I get my padrón online in Spain?

Empadronamiento is a registration process which adds you to the census of your local area. The associated certificate – el padrón – provides you with official proof of your address.  

For your local town hall, or ayuntamiento in Spanish, it serves the purpose of knowing exactly how many people are living in the area, which in turn helps them receive adequate funding for public services.  

But your padrón certificate is very useful for you too, as many official processes in Spain require you to prove your address.

For example, you may need it to get your driving licence or to register as an autónomo (self-employed). 

READ ALSO: 16 things you should know about Spain’s padrón town hall registration. 

Technically, you should apply for your padrón within the first three months of moving to Spain, or if you move home to a different area within Spain.

You may also need to reapply for it if you need it for another official process and it is older than three months.

If you’ve already been living in Spain, you’ll know that getting documents such as your padrón can take longer than you probably hoped for. This can be very frustrating, particularly having to first get a prior appointment (cita previa) from your town hall, as this ends up stringing out the process.

Being able to apply online instead of in person could save you a lot of time and should make the whole process easier, but is it possible?

Can you apply for the padrón online in Spain?

The short answer is yes, it is often possible to apply for your padrón certificate online. However, it may depend on the area you live in.

For example, if you live in Barcelona or Madrid, you are able to apply for your certificate for the first time online or renew it online too.

Those in Barcelona should visit the relevant page of the Ajuntament website here where you can fill out and submit the online form.

Those in Madrid can fill out and apply for the form here, while in Valencia, you can apply via the following link here.

You will simply need to follow all the steps, filling out all your personal details as you go and then submitting it at the end. 

Remember, you will also need to have digital copies of your ID documents such as passport, TIE or other residency cards, the deeds if you own the property where you live or your rental contract if you are renting.

You may need a digital certificate or [email protected] to be able to officially identify yourself during online processes, but this may not be necessary for all town halls, it will depend on what type of system they have set up.

For example, if you live in Granada and have your digital certificate, you can apply online, but if you don’t, then you will need to apply for it in person.

In Madrid, those who don’t have a digital certificate can apply for the padrón via e-mail.

In some other areas, you may be able to apply to renew your certificate online, but if you’re applying for the first time then you will still need to go in person.

As is so often the case with official matters in Spain, there is no standard procedure which applies across the board for getting a padrón online.

You may ask one civil servant who tells you it is possible, then turn round and quiz another funcionario, who completely rules it out. Perhaps you’re better off first Googling “solicitar padrón a través de internet” (apply for padron online), plus the name of your town to see if it is an option.

‘Spain is different’, Spaniards often say in English when being critical about their country. When it comes to applying for a padrón online, Spain and its 8,131 town halls most certainly are different.