UK expats in rural Spain afraid of losing their peaceful lives

Published:  30 Aug at 6 PM
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Not all British expats in Spain choose the noisy, tourist-heavy Costa beach resorts, with more than a few living peaceful, rural lifestyles in small, mountainous towns.

The small conurbation of Baza perches high on a plateau edging Spain’s Granada province and is home to a different style of British expats happy to live a rural lifestyle away from the crowds and noise of the Costas. The stunning mountainous setting, inexpensive property prices and genuine Spanish lifestyle have attracted a steady flow of incoming expatriates, many of whom would be happy to stay for ever.

To the majority of Britishers in the region, the Brexit result came as an unwelcome dose of reality with the ability to threaten and finally destroy their peaceful lifestyles, The majority voted Remain and are now trapped under the dark cloud overshadowing their future in the place they’ve grown to love. The continuing uncertainty is causing apprehension and worry, with the sharp decline in the pound/euro exchange rate already impacting those on a British state pension.

Retired musician, author and artist John Moody is now 68 years old and is distressed by negative changes in locals’ attitude to expats once the referendum result was announced. He’d used his postal vote and was already aware of the UK government’s pre-Brexit warning that UK expats’ rights in Europe might not be guaranteed in the future. His main worry is healthcare and his pension, but he’s hoping the Spanish government will allow him and others like him to stay. His worst scenario is post-Brexit panic in the Spanish government resulting in draconian taxation and property ownership changes.

Briton Illona Mitchell has lived in Baza for 14 years, has a 12-year old daughter, and is already feeling the effects of the pound to euro exchange rate. Her ex-husband pays maintenance for his daughter via a British bank account, and Illona’s already tight budget has now been reduced by over 20 per cent. She’s concerned, not only for the final effects of Brexit, but because of the endless lack of clarification as regards the negotiations.

Rumours, she says, are rife, including one suggesting expats’ ID numbers and healthcare entitlement will be taken from them, meaning her daughter would no longer be able to attend school or get medical care. Illona is aware her only solution might be to relocate to the UK, along, she says, with hundreds of thousands of others. Surely, she asks, this would not be in Britain’s interest as its infrastructure is already breaking down.

Married couple Rob and Mandy’s lives in a remote hamlet depend on their British pensions, and they're especially worried about their passports and EU driving licenses. They’re seriously considering Spanish citizenship, but are unsure about taxation on Rob’s forces pension. Mandy is distressed that no-one in the UK government seems to care about expatriate Britons living in Europe, and doesn't want to think about returning to the UK.
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