12 May, 2010 @ 10:38
1 min read

We’re happy here in Spain

IT IS the news we have all been waiting for – life really is better here in Spain.

Nine out of ten expats say their quality of life has improved since leaving Britain and they now have a better work-life balance.

What’s more, while salaries failed to rise in Britain last year, workers in Spain have reported annual increases of 14 per cent for the past three years.

The Quality of Life report said: “When it comes to living and working overseas the advantages come thick and fast.

“Working hours are far less intensive and expats say they manage to achieve a better work-life balance with much more leisure time.”

“It’s gone completely mad, we had to hire extra staff to cover the increased demand.”

It came after latest figures from the National Statistics Institute revealed that the British resident population in Spain grew by 11,500 in 2009.

Furthermore, official government figures confirmed that Spain registered a 19 per cent rise in the number of homes sold compared to this time last year.

Estate agent Sharon Cossons, from Ideal Country Property in Alhaurin El Grande said: “It’s gone completely mad, we had to hire extra staff to cover the increased demand.”

The survey undertaken by Natwest underlined the reasons why emigration among Britons has reached record highs.

Contrary to reports that the recession is driving Brits home, seven per cent fewer expatriates are planning to return to the UK then two years ago.

On average, pay for managers and professionals who choose to work abroad is up to 23,000 euros higher than compared to Britain.

Jon Clarke (Publisher & Editor)

Jon Clarke is a Londoner who worked at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday as an investigative journalist before moving permanently to Spain in 2003 where he helped set up the Olive Press. He is the author of three books; Costa Killer, Dining Secrets of Andalucia and My Search for Madeleine.

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  1. Take these reports with a pinch of salt; they are mostly backed by real estate companies and banks who will obviously say that demand for Spain is high.

    Percentage rises are also misleading, since it only takes a few extra sales to make the percentages leap upwards, especially if the previous year was very low (or negative).

    British expats have never been so poor in Spain, because of the exchange rate. One only has to ask friends and neighbours about the exodus back to the UK, which is a reality. It’s not rocket science – the lack of jobs here, the exchange rate, mad tax system, and the corruption are amongst the main reasons people are leaving.

    And yes, people are still coming to Spain but you’d be ill advised to purchase here in the current climate. The OP bangs on about pay rises, but then forgot to tell you that Zapatero’s austerity measures just kicked in and wages are being frozen, amongst other things.

    Life will not get any easier in Spain over the next few years as the more serious austerity measures kick in. The author had their rose tinted spectacles on writing this piece lol.

  2. Hi Fred,
    I hav’nt looked at the Olive press in months. This article is ‘shilling’ pure and simple but great for a laugh when like me one never got caught up in buying a rubbish built property and only ever rented and am now living comfortably in the beautiful Aveyron.

    Unemployment in Andalucia – 27.5% (that they admit to). Sad to say but everything I wrote about in 2008/9 has come true. Beware any money deposited in the small regional banks.

    €170 billion fighting fund for the Euro – that will not be enough to bail out these small Spanish banks. In total they are holding (deep breathe required here) €445 billion in bad debts and property they cannot sell.

    For all those who really want to stay in Spain (I may need two hands to to tot up the numbers) – Xella International, headquartered in Germany (where else) they produce a complete range of aercrete material for walls/floors and roofs – it’s what I shall use to build my home here in France. As I say for those who want to stay in Spain it is the only material to use.

    3 hour fire resistance, superb acoustic and thermal insulation just don’t ask a Spanish architect for his/her opinion because the idiots would’nt know what you are talking about. There is a number for Granada, just google Xella International and take a look at this superb building material then select Spain and up comes the number. Whether it being Spain they will carry the whole range of products is doubtful.

    I see that the Spanish who contribute to this forum are still in denial (I am surprised).

    Christoper – you don’t know what you are talking about – the cowboy construction disaster and corruption is Spain wide. I know of an Euskadi architect that worked for 10 years in London and returned home he said “you cannot compare northern Europe with primitive requirements of southern Europe. I was personally in the Bilbao planning offices when a man walked in and said in a loud voice – I have just finished building an apartment block without planning permission – I have an individual double garage right in the centre of Bilbao for anyone that can help me in this matter – a door opened – come this way sir – he got his retrospective permission”.

    The English guy who guarantees that the properties he sells somewhere near Seville are legal. Want to tell us about the quality of construction; are there any fire prevention measures built in, ie. 1 hour fire self closing doors on the kitchens; smoke alarms; room sealed gas boilers etc. etc. What are the U values for the properties you sell – you hav’nt got a clue have you?

    And do you discuss water quality with your prospective clients or how long these supplies will last.

    Speaking with my German and Dutch friends, they have had enough of bailing out southern Europe. Merkel lost control in North Rhine/Westphalia for only one reason. The Dutch may well vote in a far right led coalition. If they and the Germans leave the Euro just what do you imagine a resurrected Peseta would be worth – less than nothing?

    The savings of the Spanish are running out, including all the black money, so are their social security payments. The ludicrous 40% subsidy for renting or buying comes to an end in 2012.

    That the Spanish are blaming the foreigners for all the corruption is nothing less than expected they are now desperate for money, however they can get it – what better than demanding €100,000 Euros to legalise your properties.

    This will only change when the governments of northern Eruope start getting tough with the Spanish authorities – but I would’nt hold my breathe – don’t forget that Clegg’s wife is the daughter of a right wing (Fascist?) senator and she’s a lawyer – “don’t believe these nasty foreigners darling, it’s all lies – yeh right.

    Fred – one bit of good news. There is an English guy who contributes to an audio forum. He lives up in the hills behind Malaga.

    The local mayor wanted to make some more money so he re-designated my friend’s home and a few others as rural land and for a goodly sum he would then change them back.

    This guy studied everything, went personally to the Junta de Andalucia, presented his case and they moved very fast (not very Spanish that), arrested the mayor, confiscated 4 of his properties and re-established legal title to my forum friend’s home. he is now a local hero but guess what – he still can’t wait to leave Spain.

  3. Glad to see this article has been resurrected from the OP trash can, thanks Jon!

    Wise words, as always, from Stuart; people considering living/retiring in Spain would do well to read all of his comments.

    As for the banks, well they are reputable bunch aren’t they? Let us all believe what they say without any further scrutiny shall we? Who are Natwest owned by again? Ah yes, the Royal Bank of Scotland. Remember them?

    As for expats having a “better work-life balance” the reality is that if you are not retired, getting any decent paid work at all is a miracle. Most young families I know (and I know a lot) are struggling to make ends meet and cannot find any work, let alone work that pays more than the UK. Unless you are a Spaniard, getting full-time contractual work is also verging on the impossible, unless you move to Gibralter where there is much work in the IT, Nursing and Gambling sectors.

    Discrimination is rife in Spain, especially against expatriates, and don’t think that being highly qualified and fluent Spanish-speaking helps; I know highly qualified, fluent native language speakers, who have been rejected for positions because they are not native Spaniards.

    Anyone who has full time work will know that that the hours are long and the work is hard. Employers know that people are desparate and can exploit and take advantage of their employees, i.e. talk them out of proper contracts and pay them less wages etc. This is very commonplace in Spain, indeed Spain has one of the worst tax collection systems in the World.

    Without work and without prospects, living in Spain is a day-to-day worry for expats. Even if you are retired, it’s still no picnic, indeed I know personally of many retired age people still working to make ends meet. And of course the retirement age has recently been increased in Spain; the desperate act of a country that has totally run out of ideas.

    Natwest need to get better researchers. Life in Spain is not avbout eating Paella on the beach each day lol.

  4. Both Fred and Stuart are spot on. The point Fred makes about not being native Spanish, not getting a job because of this could not be more accurate. All that racism (not just colour) will holds the Country back.
    The corruption and macho bullying Majors and their corrupt town planners, Estate agents and Lawyers are bringing Spain to its knees. I live in the UK, much easier to make money here than Spain but I did live in Spain for a period. I could spend more money on my places in Spain but getting past the Town Hall corruption and actually getting them to approve anything is not worth the effort. Let your people and builders suffer, I think to myself.
    I wrote online here about one year ago that people power after all the negative actions and press that followed the corruption in Spain would be its downfall and this would cause more damage to Spain than the EU could. Who in their right mind would want to buy a property in Spain with the way the Spanish carry on. Even if you can buy a legal property living with their ways is enough to put anyone off. You don’t read all of this scandal going on in France.
    The systems are all wrong. With an employment contract in Spain if someone wants to make you redundant they have to pay you 45 days for every year you have been there. That is why you cannot get a contract.
    Although Spain is getting what is deserves, if it gets any worse there will be a lot of trouble. Theft and burglary will be the least of the problems so I don’t want it to get worse.
    It is a bit hard to know why these people running Spain cannot see the remedy. They need to sort out their image and take action regarding these poor people who have invested their life savings with property and waiting every day to see if their house is going to be knocked down.
    Many people are coming back to the UK as well. As for buying a bar!! Don’t make me laugh. In some of these areas there are 50 bars. Out of season (outside of mid July to September) unless you are the best one or two places, you will be lucky to get more than 5 punters in a night. Every time I go to a certain expat place in Spain the bars change hands like a game of cards. Many are boarded up now, so that slows it down. Where I live in UK there are two pubs within 2 miles. In Spain within two miles there are 50 to 60 bars. The people that live there are not out drinking every night and the other 80% of the properties are empty for most of the year. One of the bars charged me €5 for a short and a mixer. What with the exchange rate, I think it is as cheap or cheaper in the UK. Most people in Spain, builders, bars etc are trying to rip you off with excessive charges. I must say though, the fourth set of cleaners I have are honest people, but it took me 10 years to find them. They are English.
    Spain has nice weather and……. Salads…. Can’t think of too much more and I am not joking. Having said the weather is good, it has not been that hot when I have looked at the temperature on the internet. Even on the coast it drops to below 0 centigrade in Winter.

  5. ..it´s beyond me. Why do you people continue to live and/or have houses here?

    Yes, there is corruption, as there is everywhere that lived under a fascist dictatorship for many years, and it will take time to change this. But we have found the Spanish to be amazingly friendly and welcoming (esp if you bother to learn the language).

    And you can live a lot more cheaply than in the UK (well I wouldn´t know about the Costa… but given that Spaniards are probably outnumbered by expats it´s hardly representative of the vast majority of Spain)

    We live here because we like the people and the culture and the fantastic countryside. If we didn´t we´d go back to the UK

  6. Yerma, people have to sell those houses, and at an acceptable price, in order to move on. Many people are in this position. Some are in limbo because their houses were made illegal after they bought them, of course. These are the positions most expats are in currently.

    The Spanish are friendly, but that has nothing to do with the crux of the article, which says Spain is such a good place to work and that professional people can be earning more than in the UK. I’d disagree with that, indeed after telling a few (professional) friends about this article, their jaws dropped when I told them that they should actually be earning much more than in the UK. As I expected, they told me that they are working far longer hours and it is far more stressful because of the underlying employment situation and of course because they are expats trying to work in Spain.

    I take it you are retired Yerma, or are you one of the professional person earning 20% more than the normal UK salary? lol.

  7. No I am not retired. I work in a professional capacity although not the same one that I worked in in the UK. We made a deliberate decision to come and live here because we love the place. Our income is not as high as it was, but neither are our outgoings – the amount we paid in council tax alone in the UK would easily cover all our bills here and more.

  8. But Yerma are you earning more than 20% here in Spain than you were in the UK? That is what I am talking about. Comparing prices for prices (like council tax) is really a waste of time in different countries as these cannot be compared in this way – too simplistic.

    Also, if your work is different here than what is was in the UK then, again, you comparing both of these is moot. I am specifically asking if you are earning more here in Spain as a professional, which you say you are and which the NatWest report is referring to.

    If I move from a high powered managerial position in the UK to become a onion grower in Spain, then I’d expect my work to be less stressful, lol. In a nutshell, do you agree with the NatWest report in general?

  9. Yerma I hear you,

    We are ¨old¨ ie 50 plus therefore uk unemployable and moved with three young children, from central, central london, via central, central barcelona… after 15 years of working raising funds to buy in the south. It was deliberate. We are professionals.
    After being offered the biggest job on fleet street which = NO FAMILY LIFE… we live here instead, no council tax or need for a car or mobiles, we get to build a huge house and `downgraded´to a really, really fantastic family life quality, for sure if you are whinging… why not go home? just go now and be happy ?
    It is not some bad luck, but only what you could make of an opportunity.
    So what?

  10. …for us… we earn more and more here and everything COSTS less and is locally produced… My kids have jobs since 15 years old, working and earning legally in Spain, I don´t see the Spain/situation that you complain about.

  11. I think two of the three of us have left. I still have properties there for a holiday in the sunshine but would only keep one if it was a good time to sell but it is not. I only ever met one successful English person in Spain. I have seen another two or three on the TV but out of all the people I have met in over a decade that is not a lot. The younger English people I meet there are using their savings to live on and topping this up with low wages if they have a job. Many think they are going to Spain to run a B & B, rent some apartments out etc but the truth with renting properties out is you will struggle as there are another million people trying to do the same for two or three months in the year. You can rent an apartment cheaper in Spain than a caravan in the UK. Supply and demand…
    The only people that have done well on any large scale in the past are the ones that have caused Spain all this trouble, the corrupt politicians, builders, lawyers and the very greedy estate agents.
    Even some (not the majority, I agree) retired people that can afford to live there don’t really want to, many live in fear of their properties being knocked down one day. Was it the Major of Marbella that authorised 4,000 illegal property builds? That is only one area but is repeated all over the coasts and inland.
    I think it is a phase in many peoples lives, they watched the TV programmes in the past, hit a mid life crisis with their Council tax, some failing in the UK, thought it would be easier in a Country with corruption, want a break from the UK and other countries no doubt. Much easier for younger people who need to earn a living to go to Australia, dealing with civilised people.
    I have to hand it to the OP Editor, at least he lets people have their say.
    If you are happy and doing well that is good, that would make you the 4th person I have heard of doing well. In the UK there are plenty of foreigners doing well and money is invested in the UK as it is an easy place to do business, in Spain it is the opposite. The best things Spain had going for it was cheap properties for holidays or investment purposes and now very few people want any of that.
    If you were any sort of investor the last place you would invest would be Spain, OK maybe Iraq would be behind Spain. It is a shame Spain has let itself fall from such a great height. Even with a €750 billion loan guarantee the euro is still falling.
    I wish it recovers in Spain so Fred can get out, to make it 3 out of 3!
    Good luck to you as you sound like you enjoy it. And I cannot say you have only been there a year, so well done. Nothing against you in this thread, just pointing out the reality of what I have seen in well over a decade and I have lived there.

  12. >no council tax or need for a car or mobiles

    Are you running a nunnery? These make you pretty unique Sophia lol. There are property taxes in Spain, and many other taxes besides (and a lot of new ones coming soon under the new austerity plans) which just goes to show how little you know about living here.

    >we earn more and more here

    So you earn more here than in Fleet Street do you?

    You moved for a lifestyle change it seems and without transport and communication what professional work can one do exactly? Please tell so that we can all change careers lol.

    >we get to build a huge house

    Hope it’s legal…

    Spain may have have reported annual increases of 14 per cent for the past three years, but that’s of no consolation whatsoever when you had to take a 30-40% pay cut (or more) when starting the same peofession in Spain lol.

    Looking forward to Sophia and Yerma telling me that they earn much more than their London salaries here in Spain, which is the ONLY point I raised. Keep to thread please, don’t yack on about how great it is here because you pay no council tax (great reason to move here btw.)

  13. What’s going on with this thread/article?

    Is this the one Fred was complaining about having been removed?

    As for the articles contents, I too would suspect the data. 9 out of 10 is somewhat high, although I think it’s not as low as all you Spain-haters are suggesting.

    Perhaps whether you are happy or not depends on where you live. The old debate about costa versus campo, perhaps.

    Although I have to say that the vast majority of expats I know – and that’s a lot of people – are happier here than in the UK (or Germany or the Netherlands, etc) whether they live in the hills or on the costa.

    I couldn’t disagree with the views of Fred, Stuart and Reap more. I’m with Yerma and Sophia.

    A couple of clarifications:

    Of course you don’t earn more here than in the UK – that’s patent nonsense. But quality of life, health and wellbeing are worth far more than money in the bank.

    On the contrary, now is very much the time to buy in Spain, if you’ve got the funds. There are great bargains to be had everywhere, esp from would-be returners who want to realise their asset. Remember the poorer exchange rate means they’ll accept less cos they’ll get more on the exchange rate from euros into sterling. eg 200,000 euros two years ago would have got you around £134,000; now it nets you about £174,000. That makes a lot of difference.

    If Reap has only ever met one successful English person in Spain he obviously moves in the wrong circles. I know loads who are thriving despite the recession. And how do you define success in any case?

    I rest my case.

  14. No I don´t earn more than I did in the UK, nor do I believe that others do. If this was the only point under discussion then I´d leave it at that. But going on endlessly about how awful life is here is another matter.

    I agree with Pablo that it probably depends what circles you move in. We do not live on the Costa or in one of the expat ghettos. We live and work with Spanish people and have expat friends from a variety of countries, many of whom are very successful in their fields. Many are professionals, but they have not come here to get rich but to enjoy a better lifestyle in a country they love.

    We live in a village inland. We do pay our taxes and have transport and communication systems because we need them for our work. One of the things we do is rent out a couple of village cottages we own for holidays. They are rented out for the majority of the year because people love to come here – from all over Europe and north America. They are registered as viviendas rurales, which is not hard to do or expensive.

    If foreigners came here with the expectation of becoming rich, or at least better off than the majority of Spaniards and now find they can´t do that well, that´s tough.

  15. I was’nt going to return to this thread but this Sophia character is 100% a ‘shill’.
    First she makes sweeping generalisations with no factual back-up.

    (1) the best job in Fleet Street – since you did’nt take it you can give us chapter and verse can’t you?

    (2) you are earning more and more – what fabulous profession are you engaged in – money laundering/hard drug dealing or complete b/s?

    (3) your children have had jobs since they were 15? strange that for those at the top of the Fleet Street earners have no hope children – no 6th form, no Uni on the horizon.

    We have kept in touch with our Spanish neighbours and none of their children can get a job – 80% youth unemployment obviously is’nt a fact where you live Sophia.

    It does seem that El Dorado was never somewhere deep in the South American rain forest but right in some mysterious corner of Andaluz. Obviously Sophia will not tell us exactly where that is.

    (4) your written English is far from perfect, so I out you as a shill and claim my €10.

    Yerma does not represent the majority of expats who live in Spain – she has capital (owns a couple of holiday properties).

    Yerma what nationality BTW are you? we lived in Guadix, all our neighbours were Spanish working people – truckers/Guardia Civil/Policia Local/sheperds/firemen – integrated enough?

    Communications – Telefonica – don’t make me laugh – no service for the last 3 months we were there. Bus and train not practical for working somewhere else – no early or late connections.

    Is’nt it NOT strange that the only positive comments on this thread are estate agents and those doing holiday lets.

    Cheaper than the UK really? I live far away from any big city, even Rodez 30K away could not be called a big city – cost of living less than than Guadix overall. We rent with a REAL CONTRACT from a REAL PROFESSIONAL Estate Agent a flat that is effectively the whole house with a huge cave (barn sized)and seperate garage and a garden of 250sq.m. that has wonderful soil for a potage – price €400 per month with €23 a month for rubbish collection etc. and at the end of the year if these costs are less we will get a refund.

    Before we even moved in the garden door and lining was replaced, new locks fitted, a sky light in the roof replaced, the fioul system has been overhauled and every month we get an email confirmation that the rent has been received.

    Oh yes show a Spanish a cheque and they make the sign of the cross and run away. Here when we tried to pay for fioul the driver refused yes REFUSED to take cash – only a cheque would do.

    I had two cataract ops in Spain the specialist simply refused to understand what the word receipt (I said it in Spanish) meant. In a nearby village we were going to rent a small house and all was fine until I asked for a rental agreement and that the owners get the phone re-connected – no way – not in their name.

    80% of all €500 notes are held in Spain. In France no shop or supermarket will accept them also most banks as well.

    Without the massive €750 billion backup Spain bonds would have collapsed already – I made a mistake in my other post the €170 billion was for Greece alone.

    Reading a report in the FT it is stated that the affordability factor in Spain is 7-1 only when that has come down to 4-1 can the Spanish themselves start buying property again. the 40% subsidy is a joke since all the private landords put up their rents to make more money. The factories will never open again because Spain is not efficient – ban all the Roman Mafias saints’ days and you begin to make a start.

  16. You hit the nail on the head Stuart. It’s not hard to find the truth of these replies with a little digging.

    Again, I was only asking people if they felt the reality of the NatWest report? In my area I do not, indeed quite the contrary. Professional people cannot find work, so end up doing telesales and a trail of other odd jobs to make ends meet, and they work longer hours, for less money, and are more stressed out as a result.

    This is the reality of the expat job situation in Spain.

    At least Pablo gives a straight answer – the report is patent nonsense. Btw Pablo, ask Paul how he’s getting on with Google translate lol.

  17. Excellant input Fred – read and believe.

    I see no replies from the estate agents or property owners except Reap and he has been exemplary in his content.

    Sophia where are you – no concrete answers to our questions – great surprise there LOL.

    What always makes me laugh is when these types come out with so much effluent, when it is in their financial interests to keep stum.

    Something that a lot of people are not aware of, I am because my partner is a retired professor of nursing/paediatrics – as you grow older, the body finds it increasingly difficult to handle temperature extremes.

    So many northern Europeans have to go back north, simply to stay alive. It is noticeable that Spain never publishes mortality figures for the elderly.

    Had we known that Spain and particularly Andalucia would have climate change happen so quickly we would have gone from Galicia directly to France.

    I knew that we should expect temps. in the high 30s from time to time but 3 straight weeks of 45C +. in August and the high 30Cs before that – two weeks of high temps is a whole lot different from month after month of extreme heat.

    Don’t forget the coastal climate is one thing and the inland Continental climate is another.

    Last year there was a quite frightening report in the FT with maps showing what life in Europe WILL be like in 2050 – the whole of southern Europe will be unable to support any kind of human existence at all – no problem for people of my age – long gone.

    These maps showed all of Portugal/Spain/Greece/ and 90% of France as desertified – only the Pas de Calais will have decent rainfall – so anyone thinking of buying for the future for their children forget it.

    Your best bet – buy in Scotland, that is buy land and build using Scandinavia as housing models. Scotland will have very hot summers and very cold winters as per Norway.

    I’m surprised no one has come back with questions about aercrete blocks. I shall be offering ready made plans for what looks like a conventional home in many ways but contains sensible new ideas and most importantly a relatively novel air change system in which the householder can choose the level of humidity. Air conditioning is crap as what little humidity is removed by this hugely energy consuming system. Mine will probably (tests to be done) use ITRO 60-80W.

    When the whole system has been tested ie. built and any and all anomolies sorted I will advertise it here in the Olive Press.

  18. Fred, Stuart, reap ….. moan, moan, moan …. it is not for nothing that Australians call you winging poms. If you haven’t done so, than please leave quickly so that we can enjoy Spain in peace.

  19. Richard, there are always two sides to a coin.

    So are you earning more in Spain than you did in the UK Richard and are you employed doing the same job as in the UK? Those are the issues I was talking about (see above). Don’t generalise; answer the questions please.

  20. The article is about being happy in Spain. Life is not just about money but being happy where you are, whether it is in Spain or anywhere else. No country is perfect. It’s a combination of good and bad and it’s for each person to decide what is best for them. If one is not happy here than they should move and not moan about how it should be. Unlike other nationalities very few British people can carry on a half decent conversation in Spanish. To understand and enjoy a country one has to speak the language to converse with the locals, read their newspapers, listen to their news and watch their films.

  21. So obviously you are not earning more than in the UK, and your working hours are not far less intensive with more leisure time, lol.

    The article is about The Quality of Life index, if you read it again, properly. Sidestepping the question was disappointing, but expected. And please, do not tell me what I can and cannot moan about.

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