A SPATE of stories in the British press suggesting a third of expats are desperate to move home appear to be wide of the mark.

A number of newspapers and an ITN documentary have claimed over the last week that hundreds of thousands are throwing in the towel, tired of mounting financial difficulties.

While bank repossessions are up and some have the feeling of being trapped by an inability to sell homes, it is easy to understand why some may want to jump ship.

What’s more, it is statistically true that last year the number of immigrants leaving Spain outnumbered those arriving for the first time in a decade.

But, according to the National Institute for Statistics, the majority leaving were Latin American and Eastern European.

And many locals are far from convinced that there is such a British exodus.

Aside from celebrated Driving Over Lemons writer Chris Stewart (see article here), in a straw poll of calls made last night to expats on the Costa del Sol, nobody could believe that figure.

“I would be amazed if it is even near 10 per cent,” said Paul O’Connell, who has lived in Mijas for over a decade.

“I am talking to loads of people every day and practically no-one says they are desperate to go.”

Estepona-based Keith Lippingwell confirmed that while some people he knew had gone back, a similar number had moved over.

Estate agent Adam Neale, from Terra Meridiana, meanwhile, insisted that it is ‘absolute rubbish’ and the figure was probably ‘less than five per cent’.

Marketing executive Charles Bamber, based in Torre del Mar, agreed: “It’s a massive exaggeration. The majority of people I know are insisting on making it work and have no intentions of going back.”

The figures are backed up coincidentally by Paul Rodwell, the British Consul in Alicante, who told the Observer earlier this year: “There is no statistical evidence of people returning home. The vast majority of them are
enjoying life. People do really pursue the dream and it’s admirable that they have that get up and go.”

Expat Jo Morrison exemplifies the case. Despite falling on hard times after a proposed gym business in Nerja failed when the crisis hit in 2008, she said: “Sometimes we’ve gone without food and I still can’t believe that I don’t have my house or any savings any more,” says the 49-year-old, who now works as a cleaner and rents a one-bedroom house in Frigiliana.

“But Spain is my home now. I’d rather sleep on the beach than go back to the UK.”

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  1. As with the majority of expats in Spain, no-one would say to their “neighbours” or even friends that they are thinking of leaving, there is a massive “falseness” on the CDS i suspect that the figure is true and that people are just wanting to keep up appearances and would not admit that they want to leave,

  2. As a pensioner why would I want to leave Spain?The cost of living is much cheaper and my pension has increased by 20% in the last few months.There is very little crime here,people are SO friendly and drinks are cheap!!

  3. Why do you think peop[le would not tell their friends and nieghbours they want to go back? If they do they have stuff to sell,-apartment, car, furniture etc etc. Why would they be ashamed? I am sure the Consul knows what he is talking about-I know lots of people from many different countries and the vast majority love it here. You always get a few moaners in any expat community in any country who are unhappy if everything is not like home! Beats me why anyone would want to go back to the uk. Lousy weather, too much traffic, costly food and housing-what does it have going for it?? The good life is here-so long as you are adaptable/flexible-and retired or employed of course

  4. Just an insight into what appears to be happening in Wales ~ I rent property and talk to a lot of others in the same industry. We have noticed a lot of Welsh people of working age are returning from Spain and looking for jobs and happily property in Wales. Just an observation and it does not apply to retired people in my experience.

  5. I’m depressed after a week in the UK. When the plane flies back over Olive trees and the warm air hits your face as soon as the door opens, then you see people walking around at a slower pace, smiling, wearing shorts, sandals & summer clothes (no matter how stupid the colours), and people being sociable in bars rather than drinking pint after pint with no food… I just think thank God I’m back, what a relief!

  6. You’ve definitely got a point Fred this week! haha
    Spain for us is also a magical place where you never get a cold (unless friends bring them over from the uk) – It’s like being on the set of ‘Cocoon’.
    It’s one reason we never go back for Xmas now – We just get really ill from 50% of friends and family who have colds sneezing directly into our faces!
    Maybe deliberately out of sheer jealousy?

  7. “Spain for us is also a magical place where you never get a cold”

    This, alas, is another one of those Spanish myths, along with other “Place in the Sun” classics like “you can swim on the beach in the morning and ski in the afternoon” and “the weather is always great in Spain” etc etc.

    The rapid change in temperatures in Spain leads to more colds, I find. As for the jealousy part, I think it’s all in your mind Dave. Perhaps they really do just hate you? lol

  8. oh dear Fred… What a negative person you are

    I’m not talking fiction I’m talking fact. Our experience is we NEVER get ill in Spain like we used to frequently in the uk – colds wise.

    I think I know where you live actually… is it NO.1 MISERY STREET?!?!?!

  9. What a load of rubbish as usual from the estate agents.

    Facts – even before the illegal building saga began 40% of all foreigners who moved to Spain returned to their own countries. This kind od ratio is common to other countries as well – mainly because a lot of people don’t realise that holidaying somewhere is not the same as living full time somewhere.

    The reason this ratio has dropped is simple as everyone knows – the total collapse of the housing market. We know of 4 instances where for over 3 years people who wanted to sell simply could’nt – at any price.

    Andalucia is cheaper than the UK – yes if you come from the south east. Having lived away from the coast, we were shocked at just how expensive it was compared to the interior and that was 3 years ago.

  10. Im retired in Spain &wouldnt leave for any reason. However, if i were still trying to earn a living, but unable to find work, then perhaps the situation for me would be different. The benifits available here if you have no job are practically zero and if you do get them, they are withdrawn after a couple of years. I have seen many people return to the uk in the last 5 or 6 years, but mostly they are unskilled workers (estate agents etc) who no longer have people to fleece & are now claiming benifits in the UK due to the lower qualifying requirements of the UK system. Others are genuine workers who no longer have options to stay if they want to live, so i wish them good luck on their return to the UK & hope they have the chance to return to Spain at a later time when their finances allow it.
    So, in my mind, Spain is getting better & better, with the remaining ex-pats being the ones who are deserving of a nice life in the sun, having a nice place to live, with a much lower cost of living. The economy will recover & the estate agents will then return i expect, but until then – lets enjoy the land many of us now call home, while still being patriotic to the old home most of us do not wish to return to (for more than an occasional short visit), but if we do > then be prepared to return to Spain with the normal symtoms of that short visit (colds, flu’s, virus’s etc). Spain is a great country, filled with a great people who are mostly very friendly to the ex-pats, so enjoy it while you can – life doesnt last forever !

  11. The family has a bigger meaning here in Spain -> when your ill, your family is expected to look after you, hence home-help isnt really a big need for the Spanish. The big problem is the ex-pats who dont have much nearby family support nearby, so the support doesnt happen and they have no option, if possible, but to return to the UK. The job market here is also very biased towards the spanish, which i fully understand & surely that is something the UK needs to strengthen up on as well. Earning a living here in Spain is very hard, but if your not Spanish, then its doubly so. But, if you have a decent UK pension, then you will live well here, but bear in mind that the medical home-help that people take as normal in the UK, just doesnt exist in Spain.

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