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Malaga is the capital of the Costa Del Sol and home to a million residents. Most people pass through Malaga on their way to the beachside resort towns of the southern Spanish coast, missing the historic markers of Picassos (and Antonio Banderas) hometown. Like otheer Spanish cities, Malaga is a mixture of ancient architecture and modern shopping centres, all jostling for space with open air markets and nightclubs catering for tourists. Somehow the mix works though, and Malaga is a perfect jumping-off point from which to explore the rest of Spain.
Just 6 kilometres from the city centre is Malaga airport, which is heavily trafficked and offers a base for a number of budget airlines as well as the traditional names. As the centre of the Andalusian region, trains run between Malaga and almost everywhere else in Spain.
There is a high expat population here, despite so many foreigners preferring to spend their time and money in the coastal towns. Malaga is a great starting point for those who have just arrived in Andalusia. It offers plenty of support for newly arrived expats - English-speakers are plentiful and expat associations abound - but is also a gateway for those who want to live in the real Spain, becoming completely absorbed in the language, food and culture. These folk tend to live a year or two in Malage before moving further into the Andalusian heartland and away from the high numbers of tourists and other English-speaking expats.
There are four international schools in Malaga (although one, Swans International Primary School, is not in Malaga city but in Marbella, about 20 kilometres away from the Malaga city centre). Mayfair Academy (http://www.mayfairacademy.com/), Sunland International School (http://www.sunland-int.com) and St. Anthony's College (http://www.stanthonyscollege.com/) all offer international curricula taught in Spanish and English. Fees start at eight thousand Euro per year.
Like all Spaniards, Malagans love their cars. Even so, driving and parking in Malaga city can be more stressful than its worth. Buses in and around the city are plentiful, cheap and air-conditioned, making them the logical choice for time spent in the city (even locals agree, leaving their cars at home when headed into the city centre). Public transport is well maintained here, with two new lines scheduled to open in 2012.
It is the small things that can derail a successful transition to a new country. For instance, in Spain there are no individual rubbish bins allocated to each house. Instead, there are large, industrial-looking waste bins dotted around a suburb and this is where all householders put their garbage. Spain is slowly catching on to the concept of recycling, so look for the blue, yellow and green bins that hold paper, glass and plastic for recycling.
Renting is the first choice of most new expatriates until they become familiar with their new home. A nice two bedroom apartment in Malaga city will be leased for around 800 Euro per month, with a three bedroom only slightly more. Be aware that in Spain you may be asked to pay up to four months rent in advance plus one months security deposit. This is standard practice, but you are able to haggle, especially in tight economic times. However, dont expect to pay less than one month in advance plus one month security deposit.
As for buying a home, prices in Malaga are much lower than in the nearby coastal resort towns. A three bedroom duplex that sells for 350,000 Euros in Marbella will sell for 50,000 Euros less in Malaga - leaving you plenty of money for a nice car to travel the extra 20 kilometres to the beach.
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