Most of us dream of living life slowly in the sun. Many Brits try to realise this dream by moving abroad. Australia, the States and France are all popular relocation destinations, but nowhere rivals Spain when it comes to the number of British expats. It is estimated that over half a million British people live in Spain, which is more Brits than any other country outside Britain. The most common reasons for moving include the weather, the easy going lifestyle, the vibrant culture and the adventure of living abroad.
However in many cases the dream has turned into a nightmare and the current economic issues in Europe, Spain in particular, have made living in Spain a completely different ball game to how it was pre-2007. There are a number of things that you should consider before committing to a move and as with most things; it’s not always as straight forward as it is made out to be.
To help you avoid making the same mistakes as others we have provided a rundown of the main pitfalls of moving to Spain.
1. The State of the Spanish Economy – At the moment this is by far and away the main reason not to move to the country. If you think the UK economy is in turmoil take a look at Spain’s. Unemployment is at almost 25% and climbing. This makes the UK’s 8% look positively encouraging. Spain’s high unemployment rate translates to a mind-bending 1.5 million households that have no earners. And as bad as things are now it looks set to get even worse with a complete economic collapse likely. The recent multi-billion Euro bailout of Bankia says it all. The weather in Spain might be pleasant but the financial forecast is somewhat bleak.
2. The troubles of returning to the UK –There are countless tales of people who have moved to other countries, often Spain, to retire and live a laidback life only to suffer a disaster that requires them to go ‘home’ again. Illness, death, unhappiness and financial troubles are all common reasons for expats realising that their dream isn’t what they had hoped for. But if you think moving back is as easy as moving away think again.
Most people sell their UK home to buy a Spanish property. The Spanish property market is cheaper than the UK so most use the money from their home sale to buy a new house with cash left over. The leftover cash inevitably gets spent elsewhere. If disaster does strike and you have to sell your home in Spain to move back to the UK you, like many others, could find yourself out of pocket and struggling to maintain the standard of living you’re used to, back in the UK. Is this a position you want to be in?
The financial uncertainty mentioned above makes this problem ten times worse. Keeping a home in the UK and bank accounts with UK based banks is always wise.
3. It simply isn’t what you’re used to – Life in Spain is very different to the UK and adapting can be very challenging. A new culture, language and society can be hard to grasp. Everything moves at a much slower pace and it isn’t as easy to get everyday tasks done. Banks open at inconvenient times, most shops close for lunch and people generally do less than people in the UK. British manners and conduct don’t apply in Spain. The person who shouts loudest is usually the person who gets served first and waiting quietly and politely won’t get you anywhere. The same attitude applies to driving and indicators are seldom used.
It’s not necessarily a worse way of life; it’s just one that you won’t be used to. The best way of finding out if it will suit you is to go on a long self-catered holiday there. Have a look at short term homes to rent. Having to do things for yourself will open your eyes to the reality of living abroad and will help you to answer the question; do I really want to live in Spain?
There are many factors that make moving to Spain an attractive proposition. The food, weather and laidback lifestyle are all great. However there are also some major pitfalls and now more than ever do you need to consider if it’s the best path to take. Be realistic. Is moving to a country that has a severe economic crisis looming really the best idea? The houses for sale might be cheap but things could get worse.