Expats in unique Spanish beachside hideaway under Brexit threat

Published:  28 May at 10 AM
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As the countdown to June 23 continues, the ripples of concern amongst Brit expats in Spain reach out to the most British of all Costa Blanca retiree havens.

70 miles south of the brawling Brit resort of Benidorm lies a newly-developed unique beach resort dedicated to UK expats. It’s not yet on the map, nor is easily found by taxi drivers and ambulances, yet it’s home to at least 25,000 retirees determined to recreate a ‘little Britain’ in the warm Spanish sun.

Built some 30 years, ago, Orihuela Costa is culturally as far from it’s nearest town, medieval Orihuela, as it possibly could be, although the distance between the two is a mere 15 miles. This huge retirement village sees few tourists, has only one hotel and is peopled by elderly Brits with no interest in anything remotely Spanish.

Orihuela Costa remains the epitome of the British lifestyle’s genteel pleasures, and its happy residents are able to live well even on the measly British state pension. Until recently, the general focus of conversation amongst residents included golf, lawn bowls and the price of Heinz baked beans, with brass band concerts, Morris dancing, cribbage, chess and animal rescue charity events all favourite activities.

However, over the past several months, the reality of the possible ramifications of a Brexit has slowly intruded into the town’s cosy lifestyle and its essential provision of the European Health Card passport to free healthcare in Spain. A recent poll of residents resulted in the vast majority voting for the Remain option, hardly surprising given the advanced age of most of the town’s residents.

One resident summed the situation neatly, telling reporters he didn’t want to go back with nothing. Should Britain leave the EU, residents in this idealised ‘Little England’ who managed to sell their properties would mostly be unable to buy a home in the UK as apartments here cost around £40,000 and even a detached pool villa can be had for as little as £150,000.

Local English language newspaper owner Kevin Reardon confirms the remarkably low cost of living in Orihuela Costa, saying it’s easy to live on a state pension here and still eat out several times a week. More importantly, there’s little loneliness here, with neighbours keeping an eye on each other and standing by to help in times of trouble.

It’s not that residents of this Shangri La don’t understand the pros and cons of Brexit, it’s that they feel the have a right to live their lives as they’ve chosen. Given Orihuela Costa’s unique comfort zone, who can blame them?
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