In our latest expats in Malaga interview, we talk to Martina Saladino, our first Italian! She arrived in 2015 as part of a volunteer programme and like so many newcomers before her, fell in love with the city. For us, the takeaway is that she is so glad she stayed in Malaga because we think it echoes what so many of us feel. Read on to discover what Martina loves most (and least) about the city and her top tips for newbies.
When did you arrive in Malaga?
I arrived in January 2015, wow it has been 5 years already! I relocated to Malaga after spending 3 months in New York City. I was looking for a change in my life and it all started here.
Why did you arrive in Malaga?
I moved to Malaga to join a volunteering programme called European Voluntary Service. Before that I had lived in London and New York, but got sick of living in big cities – I realised it wasn’t the type of environment I wanted to be in. I needed something totally different, a simpler life based on human connections rather than on working crazy hours to keep up with the big city life.
So, I started to look for new opportunities. Spain is well-known for its relaxed vibe and although I had never been to Malaga before moving here, I thought that that would be a nice option. My project lasted 9 months and after that I decided to stay in Malaga. I’m so glad I followed my intuition!
What were your first impressions of Malaga?
I loved it from the very first moment! I felt so welcomed and made tons of friends so easily. I was impressed by the activities they city has to offer – there’s so much to do. All the museums, meetups, free events, concerts, bars, outdoor activities, beach, sports…
I happily embraced the way Spanish people spend so much time outdoor, in the streets, kissed by the sun light. I enjoyed the chilled vibe, even though I didn’t understand the siesta time and the local shops schedule at first… Until I got used to it! I fell in love with nature all around the city – the beautiful trees and gardens you find when walking in the centre, the mountains surrounding Malaga and of course the beach.
What do you think has changed most about Malaga since you arrived?
The city centre has changed a lot. Some traditional and more “local” places have shut down to welcome more “hip” and modern restaurants and bars. Some old buildings that were abandoned have been restored, which is nice. And finally they have finished the work in Avenida Andalucia! I think the city looks much tidier and prettier now.
What do you like most about living in Malaga?
I love being able to take my bike almost every sunny day throughout the year and cycle along the seafront, overlooking the sea and the mountains around Malaga. I love the fact that I can do so many outdoor activities, like yoga, hiking, having a picnic, meditating… I also like the fact that despite being a very typical Andalusian city, there’s a big expat community. This adds an international flavor to the beauty of Malaga.
But above all, I love the relationships I build – I feel that people in Malaga care more about human connections and so it’s easier to create a community. That’s really special.
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What do you like least about living in Malaga?
I guess that sometimes the chilled vibe is too much, especially when dealing with work/ bureaucratic stuff. Also, some of the services they offer here aren’t so professional, like customer service for example. There’s definitely room for improvement. But hey, I don’t like to complain and prefer to enjoy what I have now.
Where’s your favourite corner in Malaga and why?
The Paseo del Parque. How many shades of green can you find there? It’s like the lungs of the city centre. I also like Maro beach, so wild and secluded.
Editor’s note: the coves at Maro are just east of Nerja, in a protected part of the coast and best reached by hire car.
Which is your favourite restaurant in Malaga and why?
Mimo in Soho! Best vegan place! Crazy combinations, local and seasonal products, healthy and yummy.
What would be your top tip for someone new arriving in Malaga?
Explore the whole city! It’s not all about the centre. Climb the mountains around (Monte Coronado, Monte San Anton to name a few). Experience the beaches on the outskirts. Visit the white pueblos. And of course, mix with the locals – it’s the best way to get into the culture!
Describe Malaga in 3 words.
Nature. Connections. Community.
Like what you’re reading? Check out the other expats in Malaga interviews.
Martina Saladino is a certified Yoga and AcroYoga teacher as well as a Thai Massage Therapist based in Malaga. Originally from Italy, she has been traveling the world to deepen her knowledge in different healing practices and study with many master teachers in South America, Asia and Europe. She defines herself free and open-minded, someone who always look on the bright side, with enthusiasm towards everything that involves movement, communities, a healthy way of living and holistic approaches. She offers privates and group classes, workshops, handstand coaching and Thai Massage treatments. Find out more here.