Brexit not responsible for Spain’s decline as an expat destination

Published:  29 Jul at 6 PM
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Are British expats no longer heading for Spain?

For some decades, Spain was the chosen destination for Britons fed up with the home country’s weather, politics and soaring cost of living, but figures show the trend has been reversing since 2012. It’s much the same with expat arrivals from northern Europe, with numbers having declined by 25 per cent since 2011, and the fall in both sectors has had a negative effect both on Spain’s coastal region property market and its general economy. In addition, the drop in British interest doesn’t seem to have been stoked by Brexit concerns.

The UK expat community is still the largest in the country and includes workers as well as retirees seeking a lifestyle change. In 2011, numbers suggested a total of just under 400,000, with today’s figures showing a 37 per cent drop to around 250,000, a number which includes single figure rises of one per cent and 3 per cent in 2018 and 2019. The majority of Brits are found in the Costa del Sol’s Malaga and Costa Blanca’s Alicante provinces, with more scattered in Madrid, Valencia, Las Palmas, Seville and other attractive boltholes.

Explaining exactly why expat numbers have seen this sizeable fall might well involve a long look at the Modelo 720 form which demands asset declarations from incomers. Research suggests the requirement has resulted in many wealthier potential expats changing their minds as to their retirement destinations as they saw the rule as another cynical method of grabbing extra taxes from incomers. It’s also well known that a good number of resident expats are living off the radar in order to avoid paying taxes. Whatever the reasons for the decline in expat interest in Spain, it seems Brexit isn’t number one on the list.
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