Brits giving up on Spain as retirement dreams fade

Published:  25 Jan at 6 PM
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Tagged: Spain, UK, England
All along Spain’s Costas from Alicante to Huelva, increasing numbers of British expats are packing up and going home.

Recently released figures suggest there’s been a decline of over 10 per cent in the number of Britons living along the Costa del Sol, with the rate of those leaving on the increase as Brexit draws nearer. Whether they’re relocating to a non-EU country or heading back to the UK, it seems the British retirement dream of a life in the Spanish sun is slowly dying.

According to British bar owner James Walsh, a resident and business owner in Benalmedena for some 11 years, the town has been a favourite for British expats and tourists for years. The tourists are still coming, with some 2.4 million visitors arriving in 2017, but James is aware of a new trend in the expat community. More and more expat retirees, he says, have left or are planning to leave, and British bad behaviour overseas isn’t the major reason. He believes fear of the effects of Brexit on expat lives has had a domino effect on the community, with an increasing number of those leaving following the few who were the first to go.

Figures released by the UK’s Office for National Statistics show 10 per cent of the total number of British expats in Spain relocated to the UK in 2017. Another Brit businessman who runs a tourist boat on the Costal del Sol believes fear of terrorism is also playing a part in the exodus, saying with all the attacks happening in other favourite expat and tourism hubs such as Greece, Egypt and Turkey, people are returning to the UK as they believe it’s the safest alternative.

Scottish couple Anne Dargie and her husband retired to a quiet community near Torremolinos known as ‘Little England’, but are increasingly concerned over healthcare provisions post-Brexit. Although negotiations to date suggest reciprocal healthcare may continue, expats are scared their medical options might deteriorate after March 2019. Another Brit expat, ex-navy retiree Roy Healy, believes the post-referendum sterling crash has a lot to do with the numbers of Britons returning to the UK.

Others blame their decisions on bad behaviour by British tourists, saying they’ve had enough of drink-related violence at all hours of the day and are going back to get some peace and quiet. Whatever the reasons, it seems the Spanish retirement dream is fading fast.
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