Five years ago, my parents gave me an ultimatum “O estudias, o trabajas!”.

I wasn’t ready to spend four years studying something I might end up hating, so I decided to go to Shenzhen, China and work for my dad’s company. I would only work for him a few hours a day and spent the rest of the time studying Mandarin. Learning the language was great, and easier than I thought. Working for my dad on the other hand … not so much.

After one month, I left my dad’s company, without giving any notice and taking a laptop with me (I promised I would give it back when I had enough money to buy one). So there I was, an 18-year-old Spanish “woman” in China, with no job, staying at a friend’s house until further notice.

My Chinese teacher helped me find a job as an English teacher. I thought they would never hire me since I didn’t have experience or a degree, but they did! There was a lot of training in the beginning, but eventually, I started teaching classes on my own, and I was good! I could relate to the kids better than the other teachers, as I was only a few years older than my students, and my classes were interesting and fun.

China The Living Room Blog Post

After 4 years working at the same training center, I was one of the veteran teachers there, and the kids and parents loved me. I was pretty happy with my job, and I had a lot of friends, but eventually, I got tired of living in China. Shenzhen had turned into one of the most expensive and most populated cities in China and, on top of that, pollution was getting bad. Matt, my boyfriend, an American who’d lived in Shenzhen for 12 years, was also ready to make a move and leave China. So, we left our work and friends behind, and decided to go back to Spain!

Getting a year lease seemed like a big commitment, so we came to Malaga, where most of my family lives. We stayed with family at times and got Airbnb rentals here and there, and after a while, Matt got his Spanish residency. We both had remote jobs, which allowed us to work from anywhere, but we weren’t sure about staying in Málaga. We missed our friends and even our jobs, having coworkers and an office.

One day, looking for ways to get out of the house and meet people, I stumbled upon The Living Room Coworking. The pictures looked nice, and it had good reviews, so we figured it was worth a try. Long story short, we come to work here with a smile every day, and we’re looking to buy a house. We have an office, “coworkers” and friends again, and now Málaga feels like home to both of us.


Catalina Coworker at The Living Room

Catalina Álvarez González works for two US-based companies as a part-time customer service rep and a WordPress website optimizer. After working in China for almost 4 years, she started a location independent job and decided to come back to her hometown, Málaga and join The Living Room Coworking. Although she really enjoyed working and living in China, Cat says there’s no place like Málaga and she’s happy to be back.