Life in Marbella is getting more cosmopolitan

by Stefanie Müller

Life on the Costa del Sol is as sunny as its name suggests, although it is not always as simple as it looks. Anyone who has been to Naples knows what makes the difference between southern and southern Spain.

The southern Italian city is anarchistic and lives from street-selling. There are no luxurious villas and the business with the sun seems to be undiscovered or maybe not wanted. The Mafia is a part of everyday life. Instead of real estate offices small supermarkets and book shops prevail. The Neapolitans scurry through the streets in their masses, make noise, are proud, agile and very friendly.

While southern Italy enchants with its choatic charm, southern Spain scores with well-kept urbanisations, wide streets and clean beaches.

While southern Italy enchants with its choatic charm, southern Spain scores with well-kept urbanisations, wide streets and clean beaches.

But in spite of all attractions for the tourists: The poverty is visible, there are beggars on every corner. The Neapolitans compensate for the meagre light in the city with creativity and a positive aura. The alleys are narrow, the high, often shabby house facades climb up numerous rocky cliffs and hills. The culture of all ages is noticeable everywhere, but holiday properties are nowhere to be found. The Neapolitans obviously have everything under control.

International hotspot
The Costa del Sol, however, gives the impression of being a little artificial and completely controlled by foreigners. Marbella, the ‘beautiful sea’ is a contrast to Naples and the only authentic part is the original centre of the old fishing village. The rich from all parts of the world frequent Marbella, and they all want the house or the apartment with views of the sea for which they pay millions of euros. In Puerto Banus the most expensive yachts in the world are moored.

On the Costa del Sol the sun shines almost every day, the light penetrates into every corner, the streets are wide and there are palm trees everywhere – Marbella attracts millions of tourists every year.

The Spanish, unlike the Neapolitans, have given their coast away to the foreigners – almost more Russian, English, Norwegen, Finnish and German is spoken than Spanish.
This generosity is appreciated by the holidaymakers who can move freely in their own cultural circles. Beggars and the homeless are seldom seen, and instead restaurants and hotels are strung together like links in a chain.

Particularly in the Marbella area spectacular new luxury resorts have been built in recent years.

Particularly in the Marbella area spectacular new luxury resorts have been built in recent years.

Corruption and Mafia-like structures seem to be a thing of the past since the large clean-up operations took place. Whilst the visitors to Naples are astounded by the rubbish and mess in the streets Marbella is so clean that you could almost eat from the ground

But is there anything but holiday in Marbella? Yes, but it has to be discovered, as the 46 year-old Sebastian Abad La Terra revealed to us. He often dissapears for a few days to the neighbouring province capital.

”In Malaga there is now a really good art scene”

Marbella is only 30 minutes away by car.
Perfect infrastructure and a high standard of living
Abad La Terra comes from Argentina and lived for a long time in Sweden. He appreciates the all-day sunshine and the warm temperatures in his new home but also, of course, the sociability of the Spanish:

”The chats in the bar and the friendliness make the day simply better”.

Access to the locals was easy. Abad La Terra could speak the language and did not arrive as a holidaymaker, and now he manages the travel agency Eternautas in the provincial capital and metropole Malaga:

”There is a train connection from Fuengirola directly to the airport from where you can fly all over the world”.

There are 22 daily flights to Great Britain and 17 to Germany. Malaga airport is one of the most international in Europe, and that helps foreigners to feel at home very quickly in Andalusia.

”It is a springboard to the rest of the world – I can be with my family in the USA in only a few hours”

says Mark Sanderson, director of foreign investments in Malaga. He comes from Texas and never has the feeling of being cut off from anything on the Costa del Sol.

Malaga has a big heart – even for its foreign residents

Malaga has a big heart – even for its foreign residents

The foreign communities of permanent holidaymakers and working residents like La Terra gather together and even publish newspapers in their own languages. There is the ‘Costa del Sol Nachrichten’ in German and the ‘Diario Sur’ in English, and added to that international schools have been opened and many different churches founded.

Live more cheaply on the Costa del Sol
Malaga’s mayor Francisco de la Torre Prados believes that his town has become a magnet for talented people from all over the world due to its infrastructure:

”We offer workers a good package. Wages are not as high as in northern Europe, of course, but we offer lower living costs and many leisure activities with a mild climate even in winter”.
La Torre praises the town where he has ‘ruled’ as the mayor since 2000 and has introduced changes involving not only the beach and the sun.
There are now, for example, good fiscal conditions for companies, a digital hub, a technology park and a good state university. Still missing, however, are really good and qualified jobs to make the town into a real ‘Malaga Valley’, as the mayor describes his town to foreign visitors.

Most jobs available on the Costa del Sol are still for waiters, in the hotel business, chambermaids, receptionists, and everything to do with foreign languages. The real estate branch is also continually looking for personnel.
Thorsten Kaiser, Porta Mondial operations manager, offers interested parties a franchise-package:

”To take advantage of this, however, you must have the capital to pre-finance and need to reckon with around 100.000 euros for the first year”, says Kaiser.

Estepona – the lower-priced Marbella
Not a bad start for a permanent livelihood:

”Interest in real estate is increasing, also with foreign investors”, reports investment director Sanderson. No wonder, then prices in Malaga are rising due to the growing interest from foreign companies who are increasingly choosing Malaga as a hub, including Oracle:

”In the centre of the town rents have become almost non-affordable” says the American.

According to the Spanish property portal in a comparison between the 1st quarter 2018 to the 1st quarter 2017 the selling prices for apartments in Malaga has risen by 12,3 per cent, and prices are also rising in Estepona.

While Marbella as the jetset-area fills the German boulevard press and the demand for real estate is constantly high, ten years ago Estepona was a small village without much infrastructure. When strolling past the real estate offices the price differences are immediately noticeable. Whilst in ‘Beautiful Sea’ a 2-bedroom apartment in a good area costs around 1000 euros per month rent, in Estepona it is only 400 euros.

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