IT is a love affair that has seen one of the biggest exoduses in European history.

Attracted by the climate, the lifestyle and the prospect of a new beginning, millions of Britons have upped sticks to make new lives in Spain.

Spurred on by holiday programmes and property shows around the UK, the move south has been relentless for 50 years as more and more people were seduced by the Spanish dream.

Then 18 months ago, the recession officially struck, and it hit hard, arguably harder in Britain and Spain than anywhere else in Europe.

Suddenly, everything that expatriates in Spain had relied on – a strong pound, comfortable pensions and reliable, dependable jobs – ceased to exist.

The bubble burst in such catastrophic fashion that, according to a recent Moneycorp survey, some 74 per cent of expatriates are now considering moving home, while 37 per cent are actively looking to return.

Blaming it on the weakening of the pound and the property slump, the poll insisted that Brits in Spain were “particularly suffering”.

So has the Spanish dream really turned sour for so many people? And are these statistics really true?
Prices have certainly rocketed, perhaps up to 25 per cent in five years.

On the face of it, things are certainly much harder for expatriates these days, not helped by an economy in free fall and unemployment over 20 per cent.

But can the Moneycorp survey – picked up by the Daily Telegraph – really be trusted when it only accounted for 250 British expatriates polled around Europe, not even just Spain?

Certainly, when it comes to pensioners – of which there are an estimated 350,000 in Spain – the case might be true.
Without a doubt they have been the hardest hit by the deflation of the pound (it has dropped from 1.60 euros to the pound two years ago to just 1.14 today) coupled with rising prices.

“Prices have certainly rocketed, perhaps up to 25 per cent in five years and pensioners are finding it hard to cover their living costs,” says Tony Aldous, of Age Concern, in Estepona.

Maurice Featherman, of Age Care Association, agrees: “In times of crisis, it is always the most vulnerable who suffer the most and expatriate pensioners certainly are.

“We are always receiving plenty of enquiries regarding how to return to the UK and I know two people personally who went back last week.

“People are increasingly finding it difficult to support themselves. They have nothing to live on, the fall in value of the pound has been catastrophic.”

However his colleague Charles Betty believes the drift back is as much due natural demographics as the stuttering economy.

“All the young hopefuls that came over to Spain in the 70s and 80s as part of the great British exodus are now reaching pensioner age,” explains Betty.

“Their thoughts are now turning to how they want to live out the rest of their lives.

“People worry what will happen when they turn 85 and wonder who will care for them.

“For the Spanish, traditional family values mean that they are cared for by their loved ones, this is often not a realistic possibility over here for expatriate pensioners.”

“Deep down, expatriates would prefer to stay and endure the crisis then go back to the UK.”

But it is not just the charities who have seen the tangible results of the worst recession in 70 years.

Removal firms are also seeing increasing numbers of people moving back to the UK. “Some 60 per cent of our calls used to be from Britons enquiring about moving to Spain,” explains Matthew Murray, boss of Murray Harper removal firm in Estepona.

“Nowadays this has completely reversed and around 90 per cent of all the calls we get are from people wanting to move back to the UK.”

Other companies, such as Focus Transport have seen a similar trend.

Moreover, financial firms have also seen indications that a growing number of people are considering their options.

“We are seeing more money getting changed from euros into sterling than at any other time during recent years,” says Keith Spitalnick, Currencies Direct business development manager for Spain and Portugal.

However, the British consul in Malaga, Steve Jones, poured cold water on reports of a mass drift home.

He told the Olive Press: “Although there is anecdotal evidence of increasing numbers of expatriates going back, the Malaga consulate certainly has not seen a reduction in its workload.

“It is difficult to get a clear conclusion from a survey of just 250 people, when there are an estimated one million Britons living in Spain.

“I could ask 250 people and get a different result every time.”

He is not alone in failing to see conclusive proof that the expatriate tide has finally turned.

Certainly in Mijas Costa it appears that Britons are preparing to ride out the storm, rather then walk away from their Spanish lives.

The Olive Press found few people actively considering going back.

As photographer Paul O’Connell, based in Calahonda, explains: “Expatriates would be lying if they said they had never thought about going back.

“We all do from time to time, but that is definitely not to say that we want to do it.

“I would say that it would take a catastrophic situation for many to actually pack their bags and leave.”

Anette Skou, boss of Mijas town hall’s Foreigner’s Department confirmed this view. “Deep down, expatriates would prefer to stay and endure the crisis then go back to the UK.” she says.

Her department had a total of 15,000 meetings with Britons last year alone.

She added: “Many people talk about the crisis, but they insist they simply have to save money by going out less instead.”

Even more revealing is a survey conducted by Almeria-based journalist Lennox Napier on behalf of the Olive Press this week.

Talking to just under 200 people in the town of Albox, where a string of recent demolitions have been announced, the figures were certainly eye-opening.

An overwhelming majority of people – 78.4 per cent – said they were in fact quite happy here and were not thinking of going home.

Posing the question “Do you want to go home?” on the website www.arboleas.com, a total of 152 said they were “quite happy here, muchas gracias”.

Indeed, only 21.6 per cent of those that replied said they wanted to return to the UK.

“I think the Moneycorp figures – initially reported in the Daily Telegraph – are ‘unlikely’ when applied to most of Spain,” says Napier.

“In fact, the final paragraph of the original Telegraph story rather suggests that the whole article was more of an ‘advertorial’ for Moneycorp than a hard-hitting article. Shame on the Telegraph for that!”

An even better footnote perhaps, comes from estate agent Zoe Males, of Olvera Properties, who reveals that a couple of her clients who returned home last year have recently come back to Spain.

“I had some clients who went back to the UK last year but they hated the weather, politics and the extortionate prices,” explains estate agent Males.

“They started asking themselves what they came back for in the first place.

“They wanted to spend time with their family, but with all the hustle and bustle of UK life, they barely got to see them anyway.

“They soon ended up coming back out.”

53 COMMENTS

  1. I have been here 8 years buliding a successful buisness yet i am fed up and would love to leave. Although my buisness still works well during the current hard times i have had enough of being the victim just because i follow the law. Spain is fine if you come here to do nothing but as soon as you have to get involved with Police, town halls, tax offices, landlords or lawyers it is nothing more than a backward, corrupt place. I would happy do a piece for this page on the pitfalls of living and owning a buisness here as i have quite the tale to tell so feel free to contact me.

    i would just like to add today i was meant to meet a painter, a plumber, a lawyer and a carpenter to give me prices on for work i need doing (big jobs). Not one turned up or called me to say they couldnt and they wonder why the country is going through hard times.

  2. X i will never get used to the Spanish habits especially their work ones. I just fired my electrician off the job as he was meant to meet me at 8 this morning and turned up 10 past 9. Ok this is normal for the South of Spain but i told him he needed to arive on time as i had to take my daughter to school and he still arrived late, which to me is just a lack of respect. In the last 3 weeks i have called 10 local Spanish to give me quotes on for various work and only one has shown up. I have a good reputation in the local community and as someone who pays his bills yet the people it seems dont want to work.

  3. Marks comment, couldn’t agree more – it’s that exact attitude that drove me back to working with professionally minded people in London. Have these people learnt nothing? I really would have thought in times of ‘crisis’ serious crisis, the daft-arse tradesmen mark mentions would have turned up for potential business… now I know we’re definately dealing with the ‘stupids’. Mark if you’re reading this I can suggest better alternatives.
    Regards
    Naomi Jay

  4. Thanks Naomi, i seem to have sorted out my problems today with a Dane, a German and Englishman all turning up on time to give me prices with 2 of them already returning this evening with quotes. Of course now i will be accused of not supporting the Spanish in hard times but they cant say i didnt try. My next problem is getting my landlord to pay for my roof (2000 euros) to be fixed and even though the law (a joke) is on my side he refuses and knows i have more chance of flying to the moon than enforcing the law.

  5. Accurate comments from the above, who tell the reality of Spain. It is a highly frustrating country when it comes to getting professional work done. As Mark says, deal with other nationalities. Mark, hire a lawyer for an hour and denounce your landlord, if the law is on your side. I find the Spanish listen to legal threats a lot more than complaints made over the phone, and I have sucessfully received compensation and reparations for bad work on three occasions now and would never use a Spaniard for any building, plumbing or electrical work. Ever.

  6. Thanks Fred and i have spoken with a lawyer. However most landlords know that the law is very hard to enforcer and if i was luck enough to get hold of my landlord who never takes calls, accept letters or legal documents (they come back undelivered) it would still take a year to get him into court and even then knowing Spain as i do i wouldnt be sure of victory.

    the thing is:

    I have a bar ( a real bar not a little shack) that caters for the Spanish, i speak spanish, i employ spanish staff yet i’m still look upon as an outsider. The two things i hate most over here is its not what you know but who you know and the fact that if you follow the law you are victim while those who dont follow get away with it. Basically i should cancel all my staff contracts then pay them cash in hand, sell dodgy booze and Tobaco, pay no tax, open to when i want, have live music, employ non european ilegal staff, steel my electricity, let customers smoke drugs in my bar. If i did that tomorrow i would get away with it for at least a year if not more and then when i did have an inspection for something pay them off.

    rant over

  7. Fred, Mark and Naomi, please, come back to england. We don’t want people like you in our country. British like you are ridiculous with your Superiority complex. Come back to your island… and don’t forget you raincoat!!!

  8. You know what David i would be happy here if i was retired and didnt have to deal with the town hall, tax office etc but i’m not. In Andalucia where i live it really is bandit country and if me complaining about how things are upsets you so be it but this is the reality. I dont think its much to ask for a country which Prime minster is now overseeing the EU to atleast try and enforce law in his own country. The UK is far from perfect but it is light years ahead of the south of spain where the only thing that’s better is the weather. I havent got a Superiority complex and i dont see wanting things to be better run in the country where i live and pay taxes as a bad thing. Someone has to try as where i live 90% of the population when faced with a problem will dismiss them with a “that’s the way its always been” and for me that’s not good enough as the problems in many cases are very easy to fix.

  9. Oh no, not the old “people like you” chestnut again. Listen David, we pay our taxes, we paid enormous purchase taxes to live here, we support the local economy, we work. These are the people you WANT to come to Spain. However, what we invariably find is a complete “Wild West” approach to life and very bad treatment that borders on basic human rights breaches (as the EU have said, not just me.)

    Don’t you read your own newspapers? Your country is not only a mess locally, it’s a total mess nationally and you have the most incompetant leader in the EU. Most Northern European countries are easily superior to Spain in respect of their legal systems and day-to-day running.

    P.S. By the way if you haven’t noticed, it does rain in Spain too, and there has been massive damage and loss of life. Perhaps you don’t live in Spain at all David to make a stupid comment like that.

  10. Well said Fred, but David wont have to worry as i am trying to leave and will take my money with me. I’m sure the 5 SPANISH staff who work for me will have no problem finding work and all the 1000’s of euros i spend a year with Spanish supplies will not be missed.

    David, I speak Spanish, employ Spanish, always try to use Spanish Supplies / workman, my kids go to a private Spanish school, have a mortgage with a Spanish bank, pay taxes, follow the law and you want me to leave?

    The local goverment should use me as an example of how things should be done because they need more buisness owners like me

  11. I left Spain and thank God. The Town Hall was too corrupt. You cannot get anything approved and they all want hand outs and make up false taxes. Earn the money in the UK and then if you want to live with these people then do it when you do not have to work. As Mark said, the only good thing about Spain is the weather and fresh salads. I have no desire to live there until I am secure £££. A lot of the unemployment in Spain is a direct result of the polictitians. I could not advise anyone to buy a property in this corrupt country. I have to say though, I do know some a family of good Spanish builders.The built my pool, refurbished my house etc

  12. My wife (Brits) and I did our homework before retiring in Spain and decided that this is the country in which we wanted to live and die. Yes, a 30% drop in income is unpleasant but we had built an even greater safety factor into our calculations and being of 1930s vintage, know how to be happy while living simply.
    When we arrived, ten years ago, we spoke four languages and found it only natural that we should try to add a fifth (Spanish).
    We have used Spanish and other craftsmen and assesed them by their work and as people, not in terms of their nationality.
    We are the foreigners who need to work to fit in and on that basis, we are tremendously happy in Andalucía.
    We would still say to anyone who can understand this point of view, don’t be afraid to come to Andalucía.

  13. @FRED: It is NOT how Spain is run in a nutshell, it is how ANDALUCÍA is run in a nutshell. Just go up and spend some time in the Basque province and you will see how different it is. There you need to present a real CV, know what you’re talking about, be punctual and show a professional attitude if you work for a respectable country.
    That said, for those that don’t like it here… go back home! :)
    @PHILIP: “We have used Spanish and other craftsmen and assesed them by their work and as people, not in terms of their nationality.” Well said!

    With being both Spanish and British I obviously have family from both nationalities. My sister-in-law is the only female electrician in a Spanish firm and works like a trooper from 7am-6pm with only half an hour break each day. She’s Spanish and does honest hard work. So comments that reflect a ‘all Spanish are lazy and cowboys’ attitude is sooo wrong. If you need workers, use a reputable company; ask around and get people’s experiences. We had our new office totally refitted by Spanish electricians and everything was done as agreed and the end result was perfect.
    @REAP: “the only good thing about Spain is the weather and fresh salads.” Typical narrow-minded comment about the country you live in. What you should have said is “the only good thing I have found in Spain is…”. I feel sorry for you and those like who who really don’t appreciate (for whatever reason) the richness that this country and its culture has to offer. I will take good old family values and friendships over UK efficiency anyday and that is probably why I am still here even though I was born in the UK. You have to take the rough with the smooth and not make general sweeping statements especially if you no nothing of the culture, don’t speak the language and have not travelled and lived in various parts of Spain.
    As a final comment to REAP and those that agree with him/her… you might as well start packing your bags to go back home now because due to all this rain, we don’t even have the weather now in Spain.

  14. Fe de erratas: I meant to say “respectable COMPANY” and also “KNOW nothing of the culture”. That’s before eagle-eye Fred points it out – he’d make a great proof reader! ha ha ;)
    Also, in case anyone was offended by my “go back home” comment… DON’T BE! Look at the smily face after said comment.

  15. Christopher, your experiences are personal to you; they are not my experiences. I stand by my comments above.

    I have lived in the North of the country, for 6 months on a work contract and found it equally frustrating. I recall them calling Andalucia the “hillbillies of Spain” – should have listened, they were right. Christopher, you seem to have forgotten to mention some key points made by others. You would agree, for example, that Andalucia is a sesspit of corruption? Is that a sweeping statement?

  16. Christoper, if you are really saying that the property corruption situation in Spain is the same as any other Eurpoean country, please can youtell us about all the cases of “illegal builds” in the UK, or France, or Germany, etc.

    Come on Christopher, you have to agree that Andalucia is a pretty corrupt place? Just look at Marbella, Estepona and now all the other cases of irregular planning in smaller villages across the Axarquia. The issue has been raised in the EU parliament, has MEPs drafting specific motions about the issue in Spain specifically, and has received a lot of coverage, especially in this magazine. You’re in denial Chris :)

  17. @FRED: I’m sorry you found your experience in the North frustrating. I’ve found the Basques to be very much like the Brits in their attitudes to thinut as you rightly point out, they’re my experiences.
    As for Andalucía being a ‘cesspit of corruption’ – I don’t think it’s anymore corrupt than any other country; just different forms of corruption. Maybe it could be that I haven’t come across it personally. Thanks for pointing that out though. I always like to hear other peoples’s viewpoints. That way we all hopefully acquire a wider perspective on things.

  18. @FRED: ha ha, you’re right! I was referring to corruption in general but there is certainly a lot of property corruption here in Andalucía, that is true. That’s why this ‘Decreto 218’ is such a good thing.

  19. Christopher you’re comments are very interesting and thanks for posting. The Brit who lives aboard is a puzzle and for every one who doesnt speak the lingo there is one that does. I have travelled a lot within Spain in my time here and feel i have made a decent effort to understand the culture and history. You use examples in your posts but for every positive you give i can give you a negative and that’s not trying to be negative but just the reality i find myself living in. Spain is a country with huge protenial but it seems unable to move forward. Yes other countries have more corruption but here it is done out in the open at very little risk and really is a huge problem. Of course i live on the Costa del Sol which isnt the best example of places to judge Spain on. However in my 8 years here the more i get involved in local culture and politics the more it drives me mad. I respect the family values here but once again for every example of a postive there is a negative. As i said before i have no problem living here if i didnt have to deal with the Town Hall, tax office etc. The country has a lot to offer but it falls short in many departments if it wants to be taken as a serious nation who want to add something to europe apart from being a tourist attraction due to its history and sunshine.

  20. mark, been following this forum, you know what, you’ve tried, you’ve played the game – the field is never in a month of sundays gonna be level (talking about andalucia) -and they are no longer worthy of you. Come home where the enterprise spirit still exists, and people like you are appreciated, and more so in a recession.

  21. Naomi, i’m not sure if you are being Sarcastic? If not then thank you for your comments. I have been giving serious consideration into selling up and going but its just not that simple. My kids are settled in schools and it’s just not a good or easy time to sell a buisness or house of which i have both. When i came here i made a full time commitment to stay and make a go of it. So while we are in these tough times i just have to get on with it and live with the decision i made to come here. Just to add to my fustrations last night my buisness suffered at the hands of another bar that put on live music. Now this bar has 3 non-europeans running it all who are here on tourist visas and without premission to work (not one legal person working there), They have a bar that doesnt have a musc licence yet had a band playing for 4 hours last night. Of course it is easy for this bar to cheat the system because its small and on a back street, No, hold on, IT’S ON THE SEA FRONT and now be open for a year.

    Yes i know i should put a DENUNCIA against them but if i do that they will know i did it and as father of a young family dont really want to get involved in a bar war with a bar whose customer base is a bit dodgy.

  22. Mark, my post was certainly not sarcastic. I have the greatest respect for people who are committed, put their money where their mouth is and appear to be honourable, and as i said ‘play the game’ – something severly lacking in my experience of four years in andalucia. Take care and best of luck.

  23. @MARK: Thanks for your insightful comments and I’m sorry to learn of your bad experiences on the coast. I too used to work along the Costa del Sol fixing PCs and some of the joints I encountered made it seem like Miami Vice! As for your current situation, you could always move inland and set up your bar around here. The first couple of years would be difficult until the locals accept you but that’s the same with any closed village community. I’ve always found the people in the centre of Málaga to be very friendly and accomodating. Maybe that’s an alternative to consider. At the end of the day it shouldn’t be you that is forced to move so I can understand your situation.
    As to the Denuncia, you can now do it online anonymously. I don’t know if that helps you any. I can find the web address if you want. Thanks again for sharing your personal experiences with this OP community and providing genuine opinions instead of criticising, nitpicking or just taking to pieces other peoples views. Keep us updated with what happens with the illegal bar.

  24. @CHRISTOPHER: I would consider moving away from the coast but for the hassle of starting over again. I have had my bar for 8 years now and it is very successful but only after a lot of sweat, blood and tears. Yes the coast drives me mad but unless someone paid me a good price i wouldnt give up my buisness so i just get on with it and as you say “it shouldnt be me forced to move”

    I would be interested in this web address for a Denuncia as i have contacted the office for inspections and was told i could only leave a Denuncia in person in Malaga (not anonymously). I questioned if i could do something online and was told only by fax or snail mail if i wanted to do it anonymously but couldnt be guaranteed it would be followed up.

    I would happily work for the tax office or social security office as an inspector and they could pay me in commission as i would make a small fortune. I can walk from my bar to my house (10 minute walk) and can point out over 30 people working without contracts. Add this to another 50 examples of law breaking which is down without a care in the world and i would be a rich man.

    Everywhere around the world people break the law but here in Spain (part of the EU) it seems at very little risk. As far as i can see and from personal experience its seems that those who do will benefit from it while the ones who follow suffer. EG i know a bar where the owner has cash only staff at the weekends which saves him a fortune in holiday pay and Social security payments. Now this guy does very well as his prices are cheap which he can afford to do due to money he is saving by not paying social. Now i couldnt afford to drop my prices to his level because of my overheads yet he is doing this which effects the buisness of those following the law but at very low risk.

  25. @MARK: The website I mentioned, after checking it again, is for México! However, there IS one for Spain that relates to business “irregularities” at “La Inspección de Trabajo y Seguridad Social”: http://www.mtin.es/ITSS/web/Sala_de_comunicaciones/Cxmo_denunciar_ante_la_Inspeccixn_de_Trabajo_y_Seguridad_Social.html
    The actual form you need to fill out is here: http://www.mtin.es/ITSS/web/Atencion_al_Ciudadano/Descarga_de_Formularios/formularios/Escrito_de_Denuncia_IP-107.doc
    The website mentions that although anonymous denuncias won’t be taken into consideration, according to the article 10 of the “Ley 30/1992” the inspectors are obliged to keep your details private but I suppose you have to take that with a pinch of salt.
    The email address for the Málaga office of the Workers & Social Security inspection is: itmalaga@mtin.es and their telephone number is 952 040 358. Maybe a phone call to them or an email stating why you want to remain anonymous (because of the possible repercussions) and why the bar should be denounced, could produce some good results.
    Sorry I can’t provide any better information than that.

  26. Thank you for the info Christopher and i will let you know how i get on.

    As i said before i would be happy to tell my tale of life in Spain to the Olive Press. Maybe they should look at doing some features on Expats who live here from those who are successfull or work to those who struggle or are retired. I feel a human interest feature would work well on here and could lead to interest debate and maybe answers for some.

  27. @MARK: Well that was a very thorough and in-depth interview and I enjoyed reading it. I know what you mean about feeling old when you see your clientel. Your bar sounds like a right cheery little place. Next time we are down on the coast, the missus and I will pop in and say hello.

  28. @Christopher: THanks for giving it a read and your always welcome to drop by for a drink. I think Jo sent me so good question and edited my answers down into what turn out to a good read so thanks to her. I will check out the forum.

  29. Justd reading through with interest. We lived for a while in Estepona returning to the UK last Xmas due to personal reasons. I have to say that I couldn’t fault the services I encountered. The electrician turned up 5.30 on the dot, twice. Telefonica came on time, installed all services without any fuss which included running a line across our back patio into an outbuilding and had no problems with it, private lessons for my daughter were reasonable and the teacher took great personal pride in them, refusing to be paid until the end of the moths elssons, everything seemed to be 30 euros!

    Meanwhile, back in the uk, I have waited in three separate days for Virgin media to connect our landline. This has now gone on for three months. They have been chargin us for a service we are not receiving . They do not let you know they are not turning up and it is totally impossible to get through to customer services without a Virgin phone. You end up on a crackly line to India with smirkkig people cutting you off after a long wait and huhe mobile bills. The first day in our new property I opened the door to the TV licence man at 8 am who demanded over £100 on the spot or threatened prosecution. Parking charges (outside our house) are outrageous. Gas and electricity bills are daylight robbery and we came back to the worst winter for years. Everything is about money here.

    Whereas I can understand the frustration of people being late for appointments etc I respect the Andalucian way of trying to put people before profit.I respect that they want to try and keep the traditions and not become another state of the USA like the UK. The stress of getting your child enrolled in school after the summer break was eased by a 5 day period before the new term where you could easily roll up to the school at any time and have a chat with the headmaster, school secretary etc I found the forms at the town hall not dissimilar to the mountains of endless paperwork here in the uk that has amassed itself on my kitchen table. Local medicine in Estepona was the best I have experienced in years when my daughter had to visit with tests taken and results received within 10 mins on the premises.

    In a nutshell, regarding services there and here, here has got so much worse in recent years. They charge a fortune and expect the custopmer to do the work for them. It may not be everyones cup of tea, but I shall be returning to Andalucia as soon as possible.

  30. footnote : I agree things are more organised in the north of Spain. So maybe people should think wisely as to the area they pick before they move? and if they want ‘more organised’ then go to a ‘more organised’ area!

  31. I’m writing a feature for ‘Living Spain’ magazine about consumer issues here in Espana – i.e. examining everything from service levels and how to make customer complaints to returning goods, credit arrangements, etc.

    If anyone has any interesting case studies – either positive or negative – please let me know. I’m on jo @ ukpress.org

  32. Poppy, who doesn’t want a more organised place to live in and deal with? Do you like disorganised and chaotic treatment?

    Btw Estepona is bankrupt, and the mayor was arrested for corruption in 2008. The UK is certainly a rip-off, but then again people generally earn higher salaries, and they don’t have a 20-30% unemployment rate.

    You didn’t tell us if you were working in Spain either Poppy. How did you survive living in Spain?

  33. Hi ‘Fred’ – As I say, I didn’t really find it chaotic, I found life in Estepona like everywhere, not perfect, but extremely civilised!

    Seeing as you ask, I am a self – employed specialised music teacher and producer. My work, is where I go I guess, although like any business it takes time to grow. I ran a highly successful school here in the UK and was in the midst of getting going there when I had to return. I had every confidence in doing well and had enough savings to keep me going for a certain period of time. I left Spain for the short term, for personal/family reasons and not because of the Andalucian attitude to time-keeping, the Spanish way of life, lack of work or anything cultural. I lived a simple life, ate simple food, enormously enjoyed my extremely reasonably priced (4 euros) but high quality flamenco dance classes (sadly missed class here – cost £16). I bought most of my organic fruit and veg of my neighbour who grew them locally and charged less than the local Carrefour.

    For the record, we do not have ‘the wages’ here on the south cost of England. You either have to be self employed, travel to London daily (over £5000 a year), bought your property years before the boom or just plain rich to live here. I am lucky in that I am self employed and have a skill, although I charge less than London rates although costs are the same. Locally the wages are dreadfully low and like everywhere there have been redundancies, yet housing costs are on a par with London (my rent over 400 euros more monthly for a smaller house per month and yet the hourly rate is much on a par with Estepona approx 30 per hour) and food prices/eating out more expensive. We no longer visit the pub where 2 whiskey and cokes (who spat in my glass ?!)recently cost us £9.45 in our local. We cannot find a national health dentist (nearly everyone I know has recenly suffered abcesses or tooth problems) and private care is unaffordable for most.

    The best things here I would say are the schools and having friends and family quite close; not that anyone every has the time to do much as mostly they are all knackered from ridiculously long hours or spending hours on the phone chasing utility companies and surviving on rubbish coffe and the great British sarnie followed by an over-priced .take-out as we’re too tired to cook ;-)

    Yes, I know there is extremely high unemployment in Spain currently and times are very hard. I never said things were perfect or ideal, just sticking up for the people I encountered who were prompt, did the job without any fuss, didn’t charge ridiculous prices and gave me absolutely no reason to complain at any point.

    I think much of Europe will suffer more financial misery to come in the near future, I guess you just have to do what you feel is best for your own nature and the needs of your family.

  34. Hi ‘Poppy’. Being self-employed anywhere is tough, especially in Spain where you have to pay a quarter of a grand each month + gestors fees, in some cases, just to be legal and get basic services. That is a big hit if you come to work in Spain as a self-employed person. As for thinking wisely before you move to an area, alas you cannot plan for everything. Spain, for me, has been a real eye opener. It is quite unbelievable that a country can be run so badly on a local and national level. The people are nice though, sadly it doesn’t pay the bills.

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