I think at the moment everyone is thinking the same “how on earth are non-retired expats surviving in Spain?”. Good question, I do wonder how there is anyone left here under 55! Saying that I sometimes wonder how retirees are enjoying a good standard of living considering eating out and so on has become so expensive here. If the sun doesn’t shine in the winter which it didn’t last year at all, I fail to see what the big attraction is of life here if you are on a budget.
When I think of the UK with it’s meal deals, for example, 2 for ten pounds, bus passes which take you all over the country and just cheaper and more plentiful entertainment in general, I think living here can be a bit of a compromise. Can anyone convince me that it is better here for retirees? I haven’t lived in the UK for quite some time so I tend to forget what real day to day life is really like there.
I was in a nearby town the other day doing a bit of shopping. Five years ago you would have undoubtedly heard an English voice around every corner, in every shop, in the car park, in fact the place was crawling with Brits. It was a beautiful sunny day and people were sat outside the coffee shops basking in the sunshine but not one of them was British. Not even one single retired Brit. So, where is everyone?
Well, apparently there are still plenty of us about. In my children's’ class (they are twins so they are in the same class) there are eight English children including them! That’s a third of the class! So evidently there are people left but what is keeping them going?
We are conveniently located on the Malaga/Cadiz border which means that most of the childrens’ parents work in Gibraltar. But what about those further away from Gibraltar? I can only guess that many people are living on “el paro” which doesn’t last forever or making their way through their savings. I have to admit that at least half of the faces that I used to see going around, young and old, have disappeared. Many of those people actually bought property here. I cannot imagine that they all managed to sell before they went back. I can only guess that they simply walked away or they are lucky enough to get their places rented.
We have been here for six and a half years. I cannot definitely say that we will be here in six and a half years time. Can anyone be so sure? It does surprise me the amount of people that remain here struggling, living from hand to mouth denying themselves and their families of opportunities. I am not saying that the UK holds all the solutions but if you simply couldn’t progress or use your skills to make a living, wouldn’t you go back to somewhere where you knew you had more chance? They seem to forget that it was their fruits of their work back home that allowed them to come and set up a new life in Spain in the first place.
I was at a party over Christmas and I got talking to a lady in her eighties. She was telling me that she had lived here twenty years ago for about six years. She went back to England when her husband passed away. So I think that is the nature of being an expat in Spain. I think that for many, probably most, it is a temporary passage of time maybe two years, even as much as ten or eleven, that eventually runs its course and leaves you ready to go back. Of course, peoples current financial circumstances are driving people back prematurely but I can’t help thinking that it wouldn’t have been forever anyway.
That’s not to say that nobody goes the distance. I know of expats that have been here for nearly as long as I have been alive, some even longer and I would take the risk in saying that they are definitely here to stay and also those who are married to locals have more of a sense of permanency about them. Having said that I know of a lady who married a local albeit in her home town in Wales, they came here to live, he couldn’t find work here despite having the necessary contacts etc.
So, there are some left, they just don’t feel as in your face as they were in the beginning. Maybe I have just become blind to them but they don’t seem so obvious anymore.
It’s definitely a lot quieter on the expat front.
Are you seeing the same thing in your area? Leave your comment below.