To stay or go – the expat dilemma in Spain

Published:  28 Nov at 6 PM
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Although many British expats in Spain are beginning to believe the only way forward is to reluctantly return to the UK, is this really necessary?

As Britain’s Prime Minister attempts to sell her controversial deal to Parliament, a strategy which seems likely to fall flat on its face, the numbers of British expatriates in Spain who’ve finally decided to give up and go home are on the increase. However, long-stayers and retirees may not have realised how much the UK has changed since they chose a life in the sun against the country of their birth. It’s also possible, due to a lack of concrete information on the effects of Brexit on their rights, they may have a tough time staying in Spain but may well have a worse experience back home.

Caught between two uncomfortable stools and seeing no way forward which might suffice, these expatriate ‘don’t knows’ are already being targeted with online articles about financial strategies which would keep them safe and provided for in their preferred location. These advertorials don’t mention unpleasant facts such as passporting, and rarely give details of difficulties which may well occur even with May’s deal and certainly will should Britain crash out of the EU without a deal. One fact they certainly don’t want to discuss is that the Spanish government seems willing to allow long-term expat residents to stay and even access the country’s excellent, economical healthcare system, provided they’ve registered with the authorities.

Much is being made of the inevitable further drop in the value of sterling immediately after the UK leaves the European Union, with the majority of expat retirees already suffering from the decline in the exchange rate since the 2016 referendum. This issue is worth serious consideration alongside an examination of the even more inevitable rise in consumer prices in the UK after March next year. On this issue, retirees would be better off staying in Spain, provided they can freely access their pensions. On balance, it’s a ‘damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ scenario which cannot and will not be changed by fake news from any multinational financial advice company, wherever it’s located and however persuasive its online analysis of the situation.

Expats tempted to go along with carefully worded articles promising revenue from invested savings as a means of keeping the financial wolf from the door whilst staying in the preferred retirement hub should remember the rash of massive financial scandals caused by blatant misselling over the past decade or so. Expatriates across the world lost their entire savings by trusting the wrong corporate as well as one-man-band advisors and the Brexit chaos gives an open door for the unprincipled in the financial sector to take advantage of the inexperienced. It’s entirely possible to stay in Spain, with expats advised to remember currency exchange rates go up as well as down once the chaos subsides – all it needs is hard budgeting over a period of time and the realisation that sunshine and good, also long-term, friends come free. The best strategy is ‘wait and see’, and take good care of your money in the meantime!
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