I promised to reveal a long-ass post about the ups and downs of life as a digital nomad and so buckle up. Here goes.
For the past four years I have been location free and can literally work from anywhere. Some of those places have included San Diego (very big time-difference to the UK and so calls were difficult) , New York, Paris (lonely when you are living alone and surrounded by couples) and more recently I really dived into the nomadic life, packed a big suitcase and on February 6th I flew to Malaga for a trial run to see if I liked it.
Spoiler alert: I’m back early so it’s a bit of a give away that it wasn’t for me but I thought I would lay it all out for you in case you were thinking of trying it or if you’ve watched people living in this way with FOMO running through your veins.
First let’s tackle the difficulties.
1: The WIFI issue. By far the biggest issue I had. When you’re running an online business you need to be online and to not be online is one of the most stressful things in the world. The apartment I rented didn’t have wifi and at first I didn’t think it would matter, after all the romantic notion we all have is working out of a beach bar or fancy hotel anyway. There are solutions, you can rent wifi when you’re out there that comes in a portable box but if you’re paying for wifi back home too it’s going to run up costs. It’s about the same price as at home around 40 euros a month.
The other problem and solution is to buy extra data on your phone which I did several times. You have to keep live broadcasts to a minimum otherwise it can become expensive. Again not brilliant when you are used to talking to your audience regularly, you may find yourself cutting back on the number of broadcasts you do.
Internet cafes are noisy and distracting and if you are trying to concentrate or have calls with clients it’s virtually impossible and very frustrating. The coffee grinder or juicer is bound to start revving just when you get to something you have to explain in detail.
Hotels can suddenly get busy with guests meeting in the public areas, kids kicking a football around the lobby (yes that really happened) or just with someone loud nearby and it can be expensive buying food and drink in exchange for the free wifi.
Co-Working offices are a great idea for people working solo and not having to talk to clients but not really an option if you need to talk out loud to people. You’re soon going to be a massive annoyance to those trying to co-work around you. There are booths and private offices available, but I often have back to back calls for 5 hours at a time or half day workshops. Sitting in a booth for 5 hours the size of a phone box doesn’t do it for me especially when it’s sunny outside. The average cost for a hot-desk in Malaga is 190 euros so it doesn’t come cheap.
2: Co-working. Working with others sounds like fun but in reality, it’s not very productive. You will get some work done but then if someone new turns up (which often happens) we all get introduced and the conversation starts to flow again and everyone gets distracted. It’s great for brainstorming and masterminding but not so good for producing creative work.
3: I missed my home comforts. When I arrived in February it was cold at night and there is no central heating – in fact no heating at all where I was and so while It was lovely and warm during the day the nights were freezing and I slept in a jumper and leggings most nights. If you think you will skip the winter by being there you won’t. Imagine if your boiler broke at home tonight, that’s how cold it is.
I also missed Alexa (wifi issue again) and couldn’t play Spotify (data issue) and so I really missed my music in the mornings which brings me so much joy.
I missed my bath and of course my family and my cat Marley
4: You still have to pay taxes. So if you are living and working in Malaga and you become a resident you do have to pay a fee every quarter to work there and it’s not cheap. I think it’s about 600 euros but I would need to double check that figure. Also you also have to be bringing in a certain amount of income each month. I think currently it’s between 700 and 800 euros a month.
5: Healthcare. A lot of the ex-pats I met had healthcare back home still and used the free services in Spain for general ailments. But some told me they were considering private care. They all said it wasn’t easy finding the right kind of care and if you speak to two people about a similar experience one would have a brilliant example and the other a horrible one so it sounds like it’s down to pot luck a lot of the time. I did get a toothache while I was there but luckily it went away as quickly as it came and so I didn’t need any medical attention.
6: In Malaga city centre there are small supermarkets and you have to travel further out to get to a superstore to stock up on groceries if you want to eat healthily at home. However, there is an amazing market and the culture is to eat out a lot.
7: Eating out while cheap, does add up. It’s not unusual to eat out for breakfast, lunch and dinner. That would cost you about 40 euros a day, pretty cheap compared to here in the UK but it soon adds up.
8: The weather. As I’ve already explained it’s pretty cold at night in the winter and it’s pretty hot in the summer with heatwaves getting up to 45 degrees for July and August. A lot of the ex-pats go home for the summer and come back in September when it starts to get cooler again. Those who do stay spend a lot of time at the beach by all accounts.
Now let’s get to the good stuff and the reasons you would want to lay your hat down there.
1: The friends you make. You will make so many new friends and they will be friends for life. They’re like-minded people with a sense of adventure and it means there’s a certain shorthand to the conversations you will have with them. You will be inspired and challenged, you will laugh, you will cry, you can go deep or be as shallow as hell but one thing’s for sure you will have lots of lols and make some great memories.
2: The social life is out of this world and you literally have to take time out to breath. There’s something going on all of the time not just with your new group of friends but in the city itself. The Plaza de le Constitucion hosts many festivals and as I left the film festival had just rolled into town. It is a bustling and vibrant city with so much to see and do every day and night.
3: It’s very safe. Families are queuing up to buy ice creams at 11pm at night. There is always a little police car in the centre with two officers on patrol and everywhere is so well lit, even the side streets. I didn’t witness one argument in all the time I was there and I lived right in the centre. Everyone is so friendly and helpful.
4: The weather is awesome. It’s beautiful and warm in the day time and just last week (March) we were hitting 25 degrees.
5: Working out. I walked for miles. It’s so easy to get your steps in and walk off all that cake. There are so many nice walks to do but I particularly loved walking to the beach everyday, walking round the city centre shops and walking to and from the restaurants at night.
6: Shopping. Is out of this world with a mix of High Street stores, top end boutiques and local craft and tourist shops.
7: Beach. Malaga is a city with everything, including a beach and it’s a great place to unwind and relax OR play volleyball and meet friends on a Sunday afternoon.
8: There are great restaurants everywhere with delicious food and lots have a menu del dia or set menu for the day which is great value. My personal favourites are Casa Lola where tapas dishes are literally a couple of euros each and really fun to share with friends, the atmosphere in there is bonkers and you have to wait for table especially on a weekend but that’s half the fun. Dulce Dreams is another personal favourite with a great vibe, great wifi and great little petit breakfast with the traditional tomato and oil on toast. They don’t mind if you sit there all day, and some days we did.
All in all it depends on your lifestyle and your business and the deal-breaker for you.
I have not said goodbye to Malaga, I just can’t work there with the business I currently have. However I’m planning on living there part time and haven’t figured out what that looks like yet. In my mind I’m thinking long fun weekends so I can relax and enjoy all the things I love about the city and spend time with my friends.
And then maybe rent somewhere with amazing wifi and heating for the whole of October. It was an experience I will never forget and I thank my friend Hanni for inviting me over for this amazing opportunity, Malaga will always have a special place in my heart from now on. It’s a love affair I intend to continue.