Total Brit expat numbers in Spain now in serious decline

Published:  14 Mar at 6 PM
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Recent reports suggest British would-be expats are continuing to buy Spanish properties, but the actual number of UK citizens in the country is in sharp decline.

Official figures from the last quarter of 2017 show more British buyers are busily buying Spanish homes than are investors from other world countries, but the total number of Britons actually living in Spain is shrinking fast. Some 2,348 homes were sold to Brits who’ve presumably brushed aside Brexit fears, according to Spain’s Land Registry Office. The French and Germans were also active during the period, buying 1.242 and 1,198 properties respectively.

The bad news for Spanish businesses aimed at expats and tourists is that, during the past five years, numbers of British residents have fallen from 397,892 to just 240,784, a drop of 157,107. The exodus began in 2012, with the numbers leaving outstripping those arriving, a total reversal of the previous trend between 2008 and 2012 when over 40,000 more Britons arrived than left.

Obviously, the reversal in arrivals versus leavers is being put down to the Brexit vote fallout, but part of the reduction is connected with Spain’s new regulations concerning municipal enrolment. The changes mean that a good number of Britons may well be living in Spain but haven’t yet enrolled as residents with their local authority. Official figures also show a 25 per cent drop in the numbers of expat residents hailing from at least 15 other European Union member states along with the fall in British expat numbers of around 40 per cent.

Valencia, once the favourite Spanish destination for expatriates from the UK, has been hardest hit by the downturn, with British resident numbers falling over the past five years by almost half from 145,652 to just 75,054. Spain’s Andalusia region now holds the largest British community, although totals have declined there as well.
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