This story further highlights the allure that the Malaga province has, even when the world’s population were living through some of the toughest times ever experienced. During the times throughout the global pandemic, where public fear of travel and even just leaving home was at its all-time highest, some 17,247 people took the decision to move to Malaga, with the province’s population exceeding 1.7 million for the first time. According to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics (INE) Malaga province saw a population increase of 1.02 per cent.

Meanwhile, other major cities actually lost residents. The population of Madrid declined 0.16 per cent; Barcelona by 0.10 per cent; and Bilbao 0.71 per cent. However, Valencia and Seville saw increases of 0.34 per cent and 0.07 per cent respectively, albeit slower growth rates than Malaga.

Among those who have chosen to buy a new home in Malaga, we caught up with Pat and John Riley, traditionally UK residents of Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. Pat explains: “The pandemic was tough. The weather was bad and we were literally locked in our homes for the first time ever, we are so relieved to have chosen to have come to Spain to set up a new life. The weather is fabulous and we absolutely love enjoying our outside space. If something like this ever happens again, which we can’t rule out, then we will be 100% happier to be in lockdown at least being able to sit down and relax outside in the sun whilst enjoying a barbecue with a few drinks, or to even just relax while reading a book. Even with no pandemic our quality of life has changed dramatically, we are definitely far happier now, it’s almost a new lease of life for us both. I think sometimes we are still pinching ourselves and our friends and family back home are pretty jealous, although we can’t wait for them to come over and visit, well some of them actually already have!”

John adds: “We love it out here, we’d lost touch with our way of life in England, the weather is depressing and we’d lived there for over 50 years. We’d been thinking of making a change for a few years and the pandemic just pushed us towards finally making a decision, to actually make that change. Being happy is a choice and we felt that moving to Spain would make us happy, it’s as simple as that. We love the Costa del Sol, it has it all. We love the beaches, the blue skies, the palm trees, we just love the outdoor life it has to offer. And then of course there’s all the restaurants, cafes, bars, we tend to find the cost of living far more favourable in Spain than the UK as well and that’s a big factor – couple that with the quality of life you can have here, taking the decision to move was an absolute no brainer and we couldn’t be any happier.”

We asked about what challenges that Brexit posed to them when making the move. John explains: “It was really quite simple. Obviously with the new 90-day rule, we had to go for Spanish residency. All we had to do was basically purchase a property for over €500,000, which Charter Life helped us find. Once we did that, Charter Life then helped us to submit our visa application, they took care of the whole thing from start to finish and here we are – loving our new life in here in Spain.”

Jon continued: “Technically, although travel restrictions had been lifted to a degree, we actually moved during the pandemic. We found the restrictions in Spain to be stricter than what they were in the UK, but to be able to enjoy sitting in the garden and to use the pool made life so much better – we’d encourage anyone who can make the move to do it, whether it’s for longer periods of time or on a permanent basis.”

It is clear that the Costa del Sol offers one of the most enviable lifestyles you can get, and by going down the Visa Investment route, it can easily be achieved.