Financial Services

Times are tough for expats in Spain

Many Britons head abroad to Spain to start new lives. Some seek work in the sun-kissed nation, while others travel there after they retire to benefit from an enhanced quality of life. Whatever their reasons for going, it is important they think through all the practical implications of such a transition. For example, they might have to consider the issue of international healthcare and get suitable expatriate health insurance.

Meanwhile, there are a range of other factors for individuals to take into account at present. According to a report in the Daily Telegraph, the economic troubles being seen in Spain are having an impact on British expats living there.

For example, because of cutbacks in local government, it can take longer for people to fill out paperwork. One of those who has experienced difficulties is Mark Jones. He runs his own gardening and pool maintenance company and had to spend two days queuing at the local municipal office to renew his residence permit.

Commenting on this, he said: “I got there at 9am on the first day and my number was 26; by lunchtime they were only up to number six and they close at 2pm.”
He added: “You have to renew every bit of paper here every few years but I can’t afford two days off to queue in an office. There are no staff now because of the cuts, so it all takes longer. It’s like everywhere – as soon as the recession hits, it’s the immigrants who cop it worst.”

Meanwhile, another complication that individuals have to consider concerns real estate. Whereas in the past, selling abodes in Spain may have been relatively easy, stagnation in the property market means that expats can end up unable to sell up for long periods of time.

The Daily Telegraph pointed to the example of one couple who wanted to leave the country, but couldn’t because their house was still unsold after four years on the market. This was despite the fact they had dropped the asking price from €1 million (£800,000) to €750,000.

Also, the issue of controlling expenses is often important for expats. This is one reason why so many take out international private medical insurance. However, because of high inflation in Spain, keeping spending down may be tricky.

The publication noted that the price of milk and bread has risen by 48 per cent over the last year, while potatoes have shot up in price by 116 per cent. In addition, the price of electricity is up on the up, with an 11 per cent hike recorded.

Commenting on the difficulties associated with living in Spain at present more generally, the newspaper said: “Expats are finding life hard in a country where they once basked in a cheaper way of life. Around one million Britons spend part or all of the year in Spain, but thousands are now returning home – and more want to, but say they can’t afford to because their property is no longer worth what they paid for it.”

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