Who lives in Marbella?


Marbella is a cosmopolitan, multi-cultural place – statistics reveal just how many foreigners have chosen to settle down in this AndalucĂ­an haven, and where the majority of which, including those of celebrity status, originate from

Article by Victoria Wood

Marbella is one of the top European destinations not only for tourism but also second homes, holiday homes and full-time living. This prime location being stretched across idyllic sun-drenched beaches with undulating mountains as a backdrop obviously helps, but thousands of people are opting for this as a place to live for more reasons than simply the natural beauty. The cost of living is decent, the infrastructure is strong, healthcare is excellent, the diet is the best in the world, and the amenities are second to none. What’s not to love?

Looking east from Puerto Banus

So who, from this ever-changing planet of ours, is choosing to live here and from which corners of the globe do they stem? We took a look at recent statistics as well as celebrity reports to find out just who lives in a place like this!

Back in the 60s the Costa del Sol experienced a population explosion due a boom in tourism, however Marbella (including San Pedro, Nueva Andalaucia, and Las Chapas) already had a fairly large population prior to this date unlike many other towns in the surrounding area (approx. 10,000 in 1950). Since then the population growth has been an incredible 900% – by the year 2000 only around 25% of inhabitants had actually been born there. It is taken into account that during the annual peak tourist season the population increases by at least 30% however various studies carried out showed that the official population consensus in 2008 of 141,463 official inhabitants actually rose to approx. 400,000 in summer with a possible high of 700,000!

Air Europe lands at Malaga airport

People from Marbella, traditionally known as either ‘Marbelleros’ or ‘Marbellenses’, or more recently, ‘Marbellís’, are a difficult collective to define these days – and not just due to the range of demonyms by which they are known! So many people visit the place on a regular basis, many of whom own property in the area but a vast majority of its inhabitants are not originally from there, or even this country.

New figures, released since the official consensus in 2008, reveal that the current population of foreign inhabitants has risen by more than 5%. Latest statistics show that as of the beginning of 2019 the population of Marbella has continued to grow annually with approximately 2000 more global citizens since the previous year.

Pie chart of Marbella residents

The largest group of foreign inhabitants in Marbella is of Moroccan origin, with over 4,500 people having settled across the waters.

The second influx belongs to the British with almost 3,500 people choosing warmer climes. This number has risen quite dramatically due to Brexit as people needed to register bureaucratically as officially living in Spain full time or as non-habitual residents prior to 31st Dec 2020.

Next on the migration list is the Ukraine with around 2,500 people having chosen Marbella over their homeland, followed by Russia with 2,000 ex-pats opting for southern Spain’s shores.

Italy follows closely behind with 1,800 and Germany with around 1,500 (a lower denomination than in previous years).

Colombian inhabitance has risen by over 300 in just one year, the current population of which being around 1,250. The French have also increased their numbers, now being at roughly 1,000.

On record as of 2019 the number of foreign residents of Marbella that are officially registered (here we must take into account that there are a large number who are not) is around the 35,500 mark which stands at about 25% of the current population.

Luxury motorboat arriving at Puerto Banus marina

Marbella has always, and so it seems will continue, to draw people in from all over the world from all walks of life, there has never been a shortage of wealthy business people, entrepreneurs, sports stars, actors, rock stars, DJs, film directors, pop stars, models and TV presences, and many more celebrity types gracing this exclusive Spanish doorstep many of which invested in property here or lived/live here for a period of time:

Arthur Rubinstein, the famous concert pianist, filmed his appearances in the academy award-winning documentary “Arthur Rubinstein, The Love of Life” at his home in Marbella.

The Romanian-American film director, Jean Negulesco lived in Marbella from the 60s until he died in 1993 at age 93.

Sean Connery arrives at the Puente Romano hotel
Sean Connery arrives at the Puente Romano hotel

From 1970 until 1998, during the jet-set years, Sean Connery had a property here and spent a considerable amount of time in and around Marbella.

Hollywood stars George Clooney and Dolph Lundgren both own extensive villas here on the coast, as does Joan Collins.

Hugh Grant has a place in La Zagaleta, just above Marbella, which claims to be one of the most exclusive housing estates in the world.

La Zagaleta golf course from the Clubhouse
La Zagaleta golf course from the Clubhouse

Malaga-born star Antonio Banderas owns a home in Los Monteros, Marbella, which he visits regularly, and daughter Stella was born here in 1999.

Stranger Things star and leading actress Millie Bobby Brown is no stranger to Marbella as she was actually born and raised here for the early years of her life.

Tennis champion Novak Diokovic, owns a home here and practices on the many exclusive tennis clubs in the region.

Puerto Banus Marbella

Show business has many representatives here such as music mogul Simon Cowell and Rick Parfitt of Status Quo fame, and English soap actor and comedian Mike Reid, who actually retired here until his death is 2007.

Chef Anthony Worrall Thompson also owns a home in the area with its own avocado farm.

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