Expat exodus causes further falls in Spanish property prices

Published:  30 Apr at 6 PM
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With the Spanish economy in chaos and property prices still falling, is this really the best time for expats to leave the country?

The UK media is having a field day reporting the end of the expat dream in Spain and the continuing crash in its property prices, but is now the best time to return to the UK or should expats hang on in there and wait for a minor miracle. Retirees with occupational pensions as well as the UK state handout may be able to wait it out, but for those below pensionable age needing to work, it’s another story.

Although tourism is still thriving, 26 per cent of the adult Spanish workforce and 55 per cent of its young people can’t find jobs, leaving expats with even less chance. Bargains can be had in property speculation, with many believing prices can’t fall any further, but UK professionals who left as long as nine years ago are suggesting that the present situation began in 2005 and has been getting worse ever since.

It’s not just UK expats who’re deserting the sea, sun and sangria lifestyle, it’s the Germans, Italians and French as well. Contributing factors are increases in VAT and income tax and the new requirement that expats report their overseas holdings and income, sparking widespread fears of a Cyprus-style government grab.

Recent research indicates that emigration doesn’t naturally bring happiness, nor do high-end qualifications bring high-level jobs in expats’ host countries. Language and cultural barriers and a lack of connection with local communities all hit hard, making it difficult to adjust.

It seems that long-stayers are the ones least likely to leave, as they’ve carved a life out of the confusion of adjustment and are willing to live with the negatives as well as the positives of their choice. Given the option of returning to the UK and its own specific problems, they’re determined to stay in Spain.
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