British exodus from Spain replaced by Russian incomers

Published:  10 Jul at 6 PM
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Changes in the Spanish tax regime have sent thousands of British expats scurrying back to the UK, only to be replaced by hordes of emigrating Russians.

According to the Spanish National Institute of Statistics, the total number of foreigners resident in Spain dropped by an impressive half a million last year, firmly establishing the returnee trend. The massive reduction isn’t all down to emigration, as almost half a million expats gained Spanish citizenship in 2013.

However, it’s obvious to businesses serving the UK expat community that their customers are leaving in droves, as are the Germans and the French. The registered British community has decreased by 25 per cent, 24 per cent of Germans have also left, accompanied by 13 per cent of French nationals.

It’s not just insecurity as regards the new tax laws and the possibility of a Cypriot-style asset grab that’s spurring the departures, it’s the ever-increasing cost of utilities which is affecting the coastal regions’ retiree communities. Many Brits have been unable to sell their upscale Spanish villas and finance a return to the old country, but the property market is now recovering, thanks mostly to Russian immigrants.

Russian house purchases under Spain’s new Golden Visa scheme have increased by 62 per cent during 2014, with luxury villas selling to middle class buyers looking for great weather and security. To qualify, Russian nationals must purchase a home worth over €500,000 or invest €1 million in a business, with over 61,000 now happily and permanently resident in the country’s coastal resorts.

Apart from the weather and location, the main attraction seems to be the amount and style of property available for the stated amount, and the certainty of permanent residency. Culture clashes occasionally occur, but Russian immigrants are usually younger than their European counterparts and far more likely to set up businesses.
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