These nomads are entrepreneurs or professionals and thanks to technology they can choose which place to live in the world. This is a philosophy of life born of the new economy. These are digital nomads and professionals using technology to work remotely and thus are able to choose where to live at all times. Some are real globetrotters and just stop a few days in each city; others stay longer or even when they fall in love with a particular place decide to put down roots. What they all have in common is that they don’t need to be somewhere in particular to develop their work; only a good Internet connection. Obviously, most have technology-related professions are mostly computer programmers, but there are also graphic designers, bloggers and other professionals. Usually they work on their own or in startups that do not work within old frameworks which are still present in most companies.
What does this phenomenon mean to Malaga? Well it is becoming a magnet for a new ‘species’ of professional. Why? ‘For the same reasons that it attracts tourists: it has sun, beaches, international airport, good food, quality of life at relatively low prices and a cheerful and open character … ‘. Summing up the benefits of Málaga for digital nomads is Leo Lara, a computer engineer who can fit himself into this category, because after six years away (in Cambridge and Lisbon) returned to his hometown in 2013, but since then he has continued to work in startups that are based in other countries. Now he is vice president of R & D in the Israeli company Zirra, offering advice to investors based on tools ‘big data’. Lara was the first to speak publicly about this phenomenon in Malaga last summer, in a talk in the Pechakucha cycle. He did so because he is convinced that Malaga has “much to gain” if you put out a red carpet for the digital nomads.
The group of technology entrepreneurs MálagaMakers , co-founded by Lara , has become the meeting point of many digital nomads who have settled in the city or the Costa del Sol , because English is the language that prevails in their meetings. The other co-founder of the initiative is Maciej Książek , a developer of Polish ‘ software ‘ who met Lara during his eight-month stay in Malaga. At that time he worked first for a company from Berlin and then one from San Francisco. “I considered it as an adventure. I came back before the start of the summer, it is too hot for me, but I plan to repeat it in the future “, from Krakow by email
Outside the rankings
Maciej and other technology professionals who have worked in Malaga share the same enthusiasm for the benefits found in the city: good weather, friendly people, an average size that makes it very livable, leisure alternatives, a growing supply of spaces’ coworking ‘, good communications, an affordable life … “First you need a good internet connection and friendly people around,” summarised the Polish programmer.
Leo Lara pointed out that Malaga “has the objective to be a leader in Southern Europe” in this field. Yet it does not appear to be well placed in the rankings of the cities most prized by digital nomads. In Nomadlist.com it occupied 44th place, behind Seville and Valencia. At the top are Asian cities such as Chiang Mai or Bangkok, for it was there that this phenomenon began to take shape.
Lara and the other members of Málaga Makers said that the problem that makes the city not visible on the map of the digital nomad is the lack of a brand image and a commitment by the authorities to favor this phenomenon. The nearest reference is Lisbon, a city that is now reaping the fruits of the efforts it has sown. For all foreign professionals based in Malaga who were interviewed for this story say there is a lack of a receptive environment for people who don’t speak Spanish. The entrepreneurial support services are not provided in English or a system of ‘Softlanding’ to help these visitors to orientate in finding housing, administrative obligations, health, school choice for their children … The same complaint has been repeated for some time, for Bolt, Rafa Aguado. Most entrepreneurs from other countries find it “very difficult” to find accommodation, not to mention other formalities. Aguado thinks it would be a good idea for the council or the Authorities to enable a kind of housing or shelter for residence for foreign entrepreneurs
Lara, meanwhile, offers a ‘ one stop shop ‘ of administrative procedures to create companies to provide a service in English. Another factor would be crucial in his view if there was a space of ‘ coworking ‘ with more than 50 seats in the center or near the beach, like what exists in Lisbon, as it would become a meeting point and a magnet .
This new phenomenon could create thousands of jobs and the presence of high-level technology professionals could be very enriching for the ecosystem of ‘startups ‘ in addition there is the possibility that some of these might decide to stop being nomads and set up business in Malaga.