What’s it like living in Nerja?
It’s been almost 2 ½ years that we’ve lived in Nerja. We decided it was time to do a video listing the Pros and Cons of living in Nerja!
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Summary and more detail on the Pros and Cons of Nerja
Below I’ll summarize and expand a bit on some of the points I made in the video.
Nature. Hikes: The mountains behind the Nerja are part of the Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara and Alhama Natural Park. I’ve posted about some of my hikes on the blog: El Cielo (the prominent peak you see from Nerja), Almendron (my favorite hike), and El Fuerte (the most accessible and easiest hike). I do my hikes with Jon Keo Walking Tours. Beaches: See The Beaches of Nerja
Low Rise Buildings. Part of what makes Nerja special are the low-rise buildings – you won’t see the ugly high rises that dominate much of the Costa del Sol. From what I’ve heard, Nerja has stricter building codes than most other municipalities and they keep on top of things. That’s a good thing. There are still some higher buildings and the area east of the balcon has a neighbourhood full of them – but they’re not the typical Costa del Sol high rises, these buildings are maximum 7,8 stories and are whitewashed so they fit in to the surroundings. Compare that to places like Torrox Costa or Torre del Mar which are made up of a line of ugly high rises…
Weather. Its rare that I’m not wearing shorts and sandals in Nerja, even in January and February. Funny enough, this year has been the exception – it’s been much colder than previous years (even locals are complaining about the cold). But if the sun is out you’ll never be cold and, as you can see in the video, there’s still people walking around shirtless in February! Where it’s unbearable, at least for us, is summer when it gets very humid. I personally hate July and August in Nerja.
Restaurants. So much choice. As I say in the video, we have Asian restaurants (Som Som gets great reviews), Indian (we like Mums), and Chinese (China House is good). Bakus is the place for a fancy meal (haven’t been but it gets great reviews). Our favorite Spanish restaurant is El Pulguilla. There are TONS more restaurants. And if you like tapas check out our Nerja page (our favorites are El Pulguilla, La Puntilla, and Dolores el Chispa). Good Stuff café is an institution and makes fabulous breakfasts.
People. Locals in Nerja are very friendly and we’ve always felt welcomed. The Spanish, in general, are very welcoming and tolerant of foreigners. We’ve had nothing but good interactions.
Nerja’s location if you drive. Nerja is located next to the Autopista (A-7) which takes you along the coast in both directions. It’ll take you 45 minutes to Malaga which is very convenient (and reasonable we think)
Nerja’s location if you take public transport (a.k.a the bus). Alsa is the main bus company operating on this part of the Costa del Sol and if going to Malaga you’ll usually have stops in Torrox Costa and Torre del Mar. Unless you get the rare direct bus, most of the time it’ll take you 1 ½ hours to Malaga (which is inconvenient – you don’t want to spend 3 hours travelling for a day in Malaga).
Parking. Nerja’s parking lots get jam-packed and everyone complains about parking, especially in the summer months. The main parking lot is Aparcamiento Carabeo which is right next to the center of town. There is also parking under Nerja’s Plaza de Espana.
Expats. Nerja has a population of about 21,000, about 25% of which are expats (either full-time or part-time). But what I should have mentioned in the video are the tourists – which make for a lot of foreign faces you see year round. You often don’t feel like you’re in Spain and it’s probably our biggest issue with Nerja. If you’re looking for the “Spanish experience” you won’t really get much of it in Nerja.
Language. As a follow-up to the above, you can get by in English in Nerja. People are used to expats and tourists so they’ll know a few words. Enough at least so that you’re understood.
Activities. There are tons of activities for expats in Nerja. I enjoy taking part in hiking tours (I mentioned that up top). Some people like doing yoga and they hold classes both at the Parador and at Burriana beach (there’s a Wellness store at Calle Huertos 51 where you can find out more). Social events are organized by The Club Internacional de Nerja.
“Real” stores. As I mention in the video, Nerja is a real town with ‘real’ stores. You can find an electronics store, furniture stores, sporting goods stores, hardware stores etc..It’s not just a beach resort and having ‘real’ stores was a big consideration when we had to decide if we could make this our base.
Expat stores. There are a lot of expat stores where you can buy imported products. The biggest is Supermercado Iranzo. It’s where we go. You can find just about everything there – like I say in the video: Asian noodle soups, Indian pastes, German beers and sausage, fish and chips…Iranzo also has a very good wine/booze selection.
Culture. Nerja is not a cultural destination. It’s an outdoor destination and a relaxing place with restaurants, bars etc. It doesn’t have very many museums, or very many historical highlights. Sure, it has festivals like every other Spanish towns but if you’re looking for a mini-Seville Nerja is not that…
The state of Apartments. There are a lot of crappy apartments on the Costa del Sol and you’ll find them in Nerja as well. Poor insulation, poor workmanship, mold, cheap windows, bad plumbing…and landlords who just patch over things instead of taking care of the underlying problems. You’ll find yourself freezing in winter and sweltering in summer (the AC just goes out the cracks). Poor quality housing in our experience.
Hospitals. Important for anyone wanting to settle here. We don’t have much in terms of facilities right now: there’s a public hospital (Centro de Salud Nerja) if you’re on Spanish healthcare. If you have private insurance the place to go is Vithas Centro Medico (open 8 am – 9pm, closed on weekends). I’m told that if you have private insurance and have a medical emergency, the place to go is the hospital in Velez-Malaga, about 25 minutes away. We’ve been lucky with our health (knock on wood) so haven’t put any of the above to the test. If I’m wrong with any of the above please correct me.
They’ve been talking of building a big hospital in Nerja behind the Mercadona but you never know…It would be very welcome though.
Accommodation. I get a lot of emails asking me about long-term accommodation in Nerja and refer them to Diane (see the link below and fill it out if you need her help). But right now it’s not easy – Nerja gets a lot of demand and is short of supply. It’s all resulted in high rental prices and many locals are starting to feel priced out. Part of the reason for high prices is Nerja’s popularity among foreign visitors on holiday – I know a local lady who rents her place for 1,000 Euros/wk in the summer. Everyone who rents her place is a foreigner. High prices in the short-term market has resulted in people taking their apartments off the long-term market – adding to the pinch for anyone looking for long-term accommodation in Nerja.
Looking for a real estate agent? We used Diane Jacobs to help us find our apartment in Nerja. She specializes in long-term rentals but also handles all your other real estate needs. More here
Besides accommodation, Nerja is considered expensive by both locals and domestic tourists. More and more, Spanish are going to other places for their summer vacations.
The above are the things that pop to mind when considering the Pros and Cons of Nerja. If you’re a resident, feel free to comment with anything I’ve missed.
Related: What is the town of Nerja like?
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