7 Aug, 2016 @ 11:21
2 mins read

Tale of two cities: Life for Spaniards in London compared to Londoners´ lives in Spain post-Brexit

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Ramon and Genovea

“WHO do you think makes your coffee?”


These are words Ramon Martinez never thought he would have to say until he found himself confronting a ‘fascist’ in a London coffee shop following Britain’s departure from the EU.

After hearing foreign languages being spoken, a white middle-aged man announced to the cafe in Richmond that ‘this island is too small for all you immigrants’, urging them to go back home.

But to 71-year-old Ramon and his wife Genovea, 69, London is their home.

The Spanish couple met in England when Genovea moved there in 1964, where she worked as a housekeeper.

Ramon became a property developer and the pair raised three children in the Big Smoke.


But since the vote for Brexit, the pair have confessed they no longer feel welcome in the city they have called home for 52 years.


“We were devastated by the news and since the result we feel on edge a lot more,”


Genovea tells the Olive Press, “We feel scared to speak in Spanish in London in case we get confronted or verbally abused.”

The couple now say they want to spend more time in Spain to be closer to their sons who live in Casares and the Canaries.

“We would like to move back maybe for six months in the year, but we want to have British passports,” explains Ramon, originally from Valencia, “Just so I can say, ‘look, I am British!’, and also because we feel safer abroad when we have British passports.”

While they confessed they fork out a lot more in costs in the UK, they admitted they would not like to become residents in Spain because of the taxes on income.

“London is a lot more expensive but luckily we have two properties in Wimbledon which we rent out and can rely on,” Ramon adds, “While we spend around £2,400 a month on costs including food, we are in love with London, we feel British and European, we just hope that it can feel like our home again soon.”


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Alan and Chrissie

While Ramon and Genovea have been left heartbroken, Sabinillas-based Britons Alan Ashley, 71 and wife Chrissie, 65, have been left largely unaffected.

“I don’t worry about it,” says Alan, who moved to Sabinillas 13 years ago. “What will be, will be.


“Britain was great before and it will be great again, living here in Spain I would have voted to Remain but as a country I think it might be good that we are out.”

Alan moved to Spain after decades of working as an engineer in East London started taking its toll on his health.

“I was working 18 hour days and my doctor said to me if I didn’t make the move pronto then I wouldn’t be around much longer, and it was the best thing I ever did,” he says.

“Obviously the cost of living here is a lot cheaper than London, I mean our urbanization maintenance costs are going down to €380 a year.”

Chrissie said the pair only spend €130 a week on food, which isn’t much considering they eat out every day.

“And how much is it once you take out the wine?!” joked Alan. “I suppose not much because it’s only about €3 a bottle.”

He adds: “The healthcare here is also so efficient. We both had our eyes done here and we were in and out really quickly, while their aftercare is not as good or expected as it is in the UK, it makes for a much more efficient service and means their resources aren’t stretched, maybe something the NHS could take a few notes from.”


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Alan and Roman in Sabinillas

While they remained largely indifferent to Brexit, they admitted the drop in the pound’s value has impacted their pensions, losing around €270 a month.


“Obviously it will impact us but we have lived through parity and survived so I’m sure we will get through this until the pound bounces back.”

Laurence Dollimore

Laurence has a BA and MA in International Relations and a Gold Standard diploma in Multi-Media journalism from News Associates in London. He has almost a decade of experience and previously worked as a senior reporter for the Mail Online in London.

GOT A STORY? Contact [email protected] or call +34 951 273 575 Twitter: @olivepress

1 Comment

  1. To the Spanish couple who faced abuse from an unkind lout not everybody wishes EU citizens to go home. From someone who lives in the sticks I have never understood the lure of London but each to their own and to you God bless you and I hope you stay for as long as you want in the city you love.

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