Are Brit expats in Spain better off than those who’ve repatriated?

Published:  31 Dec at 6 PM
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Brexit has been described as a pantomime, but is no laughing matter for those caught in its net.

The expat community in Spain is overwhelmingly British and mostly comprised of retirees who decided to abandon the UK for two good reasons – the weather and the cost of living including housing. It wasn’t an easy decision for the majority, as it meant leaving close family and friends as well as familiar surroundings and a well-loved home. Staying would have imposed negatives such as braving the winter cold whilst dreading the quarter’s electricity bill and having to wait months for much-needed NHS treatment.

As a result, it’s no surprise that Spain is the country of choice, with more Brits living there than in any other foreign land and enjoying the warmth of sizeable communities in this favourite destination. Sadly, these established communities are now feeling the cold wind of Brexit, with some 150,000 Britons out of the previous total of 400,000 back in the home country due to the fall in sterling against the euro. Spanish businesses owned by Brits are also suffering, with estate agents hard hit by the decline in new arrivals buying retirement homes.

Those who’ve decided to stay no matter what happens are rushing to apply for Spanish citizenship in order to retain their right to free healthcare and other benefits including the right to work, all of which are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement and may not continue of if a no-deal Brexit is the final result. There are precautions which must be taken, such as hedging against massive currency fluctuation in the case of no-deal, safeguarding pension payments from the UK and making capital work harder in order to gain extra income.

As the UK political scene becomes ever more confused, it’s easy to give up, sell up if possible and go back to the old life, but the predicted reverberations of Brexit on the UK’s economy could well mean making ends meet on the UK state pension will become impossible. In addition, the British weather is only going to get worse due to global warming. Also, for long-stayers in Spain who imagine moving back gives the bonus of predictability, reading the UK media on a regular base should help them realise just how much the home country’s changed since they left. The moral of this sad tale is simple – stick to your dream and it will, eventually, keep coming true.
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