Mass exodus of Brits from Valencia as Brexit negotiations start

Published:  21 Jun at 6 PM
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Around 20 per cent of the British expat community in the Spanish city of Valencia have already returned to the UK rather than wait to hear the results of the Brexit negotiations.

The exodus has mostly taken place over the year following the Brexit referendum, headed up by a number of British expats who’d already decided to return home should the Leave vote triumph rather than endure several years of uncertainty. January 2015 figures from Britain’s National Institute of Statistics showed some 96,115 UK expats living in the Spanish city, with the January 2016 figures at 82,028 and this January’s total at 73,304 – a fall of 23,000, the majority of whom had opted to return to the UK.

One retired British couple, admittedly divided in their support for Remain versus Leave, had already decided to relocate to their home county of Lancashire should the vote confirm Brexit. Their main reason was the cost of Spanish healthcare once the reciprocal agreement with the UK ended, and both are concerned about those left behind who are unable to afford private health insurance. The couple had enjoyed their life in Spain, spending sunny days on Valencia’s Arenal de Xabia beach, a favourite with the city’s British community.

Many Britons living in the popular retirement destination of Alicante have made similar decisions, with around 22,000 pensioners heading back to the UK during the past two years. The fall in the value of sterling since the Brexit result was announced is another major issue for UK retirees living on their state pensions, with many adding up the cost of private health insurance and reluctantly taking the decision to leave their ideal lifestyle and take their chances back in the UK.

Those who’ve decided to remain no matter what happens are simply wishing for a satisfactory result in the Brexit negotiations, with local councillor Carole Elizabeth Sanders reporting continuing concern laced with hope amongst the community she represents. She believes many are relying on the Spanish government’s striking of a deal allowing them to stay in the sunshine. In the real world, the loss of hundreds of thousands of UK expats to Spain’s coastal economies plus the possibility of far fewer tourists due to reductions in cheap flights might allow common sense to prevail.
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