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Mac's Poll - Let's Vote

Curious to know what the general opinion is? Cast your vote and let's see!!

20 June 2013 @ 00:05



 I just wanted to thank all the EOS members for participating and leaving their mark on my Poll blog. For those who haven’t been following the polls and for those who have, I figured it might be interesting to tie together the results and look at the bigger picture. 

After 20 polls, nearly 40,000 ‘views’ and edging on 500 comments I am overwhelmed at the response.  I have decided to select the polls that are directly related to Spain of which I have selected ten to give us an insight into what the general feeling is about this wonderful country, results which have come directly from all of you, people that are living here, have lived here or are about to live here: EOS Members.
I hope this post will serve especially for all those thinking of coming to Spain in the future. However please take into consideration these are just fun snap-shot polls and are just intended to gather the generally feeling of the members on this site so a certain degree of tolerance should be taken into consideration, none the less please take the results for what you believe they are worth and I hope you find this summary interesting, I certainly did!

Of the ten polls selected for this summary there were an average of 446 unique participants and an average of 1855 hits per poll from nearly 20 different countries, although the vast majority of votes came from residents in the Spain and the UK. Pretty much 1 in 4 people who viewed the poll participated in it. I know 446 doesn’t seem a large amount of participants for a survey or a poll but remember it is an average and they are unique votes (limited by IP access) so there are no repeat votes and the quality of the source is unbeatable! Giving even more credibility to the results!    

What does the average participant think of Spain? :
Are they happier living here?
What were their main concerns before moving?
Do they think the Spanish are friendlier than the Brits?
Have they integrated? 
Can they speak decent Spanish?
What made them move to Spain?
Do they recommend to buy or rent?
Do they intend to ‘pop their clogs’ in Spain?
Are they happy with the cost of living?
Do they feel safe?

Quite an interesting picture….

So what is the ‘profile’ of the average EOS member (that participated in the polls)? 

Lets start at the beginning, what was the deciding factor that made members move to Spain? From the comments left, many members would have liked to have ticked multiple options as it appears there wasn’t one deciding factor but several. This said, one would have thought that the weather would have raced off with first place but it didn’t, it came in second, very close, but first place was surprisingly the fact that they were fed up with their home nation and needed a change. Almost 33% of voters ticked this box and 31% ticked weather. Only 10,49% were primarily looking for a lower cost of living but I suspect it was on most people’s list. Surprisingly though, only 1,12% came looking for work or business opportunities, which does say something about the demographic of the EOS members:

"I would have liked to have checked a number of the boxes. We had been holidaying here for years and always knew we would retire here, eventually. The reasons could include fed up with U.K., better weather, lower cost of living, etc., but we never really expected to be so happy and contented with the people around here. Cartagena must be one of the most friendly and unpressurised cities in the world. The local Spanish are wonderful."

"Of course weather is in there somewhere, but after 8 years of visiting my ex 6 times a year for 2 weeks at a time, it was also the people, the language, and the culture that attracted me. And the cities and the countryside and the food and the lifestyle and the lower cost of living."

" Weather for me. I used to think it was far too trivial a reason to move country, but came to realise that the difference the sun makes is actually pretty fundamental, to me at least. "

" We also would have liked to tick various boxes. The weather, the lower cost of living {generally}, the quality of life, the safer environment {generally}, fed up with the nonsensical U.K governments {all} with a lack of correct laws that primarily take care of their own first. Yes i know that this also applies to other countries as well. I found the U.K a great place to work, for me at any rate, but Spain we find takes some beating as a place to retire to for many reasons and long may it continue."

"We left, primarily, due to the decreasing quality of life within the UK. "

Having decided to make the move, did our members decide to rent or buy their property in Spain? This poll sparked off quite a conversation it was clear that there were many who had suffered due to the property crash but none the less the results really surprised me 62,46% of the voters wanted to, or had the intention to, buy a property whether it was renting initially or buying it straight away. Only 37,5% had decided just to rent and had no intention of buying. Given the recent property dramas I thought this would have been the other way round but it seems that home ownership is still very British and that the majority haven’t been scared off by the property collapse. However there were great arguments for both options but the average member would undoubtedly buy, not rent, a property in Spain:

" Rent first and you have options. Buy and you could be trapped" 

" When you see the house you want to make your home.... BUY, BUY,BUY! I knew the area I wanted, fixed to see 4 houses on one day with an agent, and bought the second one I saw. Good price, and I didn't want to waste 6 months rent money down the drain and risk losing the home I loved then and love now."

" I was not going to buy as we did not want to move till 2013 but found a perfect penthouse in La Quinta and made a ridiculous offer and they accepted, as I was paying in dollars it turns out that if I had waited the dollar dropped 10% and so my place would have cost over 10% so really no one knows the best option, who would have thought that the exchange rate would have made such a difference"

" if you have visited Spain or any of its islands like the Canary Islands and decide that living retirement in such a place appeals to you, then make sure that you visit at different times of the year first, so that you get experience of what it is like."

" This home ownership is so British and so wrong if you retire out here. Why is property always looked at as an investment for the owner or family? Germany has thrived on rented property as the laws for landlord and tenant are sensible and strictly adhered too."

" We found a rather sensible option, we have arrange a rent to buy private mortgage with a vendor, so we are now tenants and in 5 years after paying our low monthly rent the property becomes ours and we have the right to sell the option in the mean time. Best of both worlds and ties down a sale price"

" Rent. No capital tied up. More ready cash to enjoy. No brainer!"

" No-one has mentioned what would happen after one of you dies. What about the crucifying tax that the survivor has to pay? No £325000 inheritance tax threshold here, as in the UK. Tis a miserly low 16000€ in Spain. This in itself should put you off buying. Only the foolhardy would 'sell up' in the UK, and then buy here."

"I would say that if you have: -
1. Done your research;
2. Checked out different areas;
3. Found a place that ticks 8 out of your 10 boxes;
4. Pay a bargain price of under 100,000 euros;
If you can afford it, then buy it, hopefully you and your family will get years of enjoyment and its yours to share with whoever you like!"

But before leaving the UK what were their main concerns about living in Spain? Not surprisingly red tape dominated this poll with bureaucracy taking 41,81% of the votes followed by health services taking 23,68% of the votes. This was no surprise as Spain is famous for its incredibly efficient administration! But I suppose it is a small price to pay when the country has so many other benefits. Health services are always a logical worry, especially for the retired,  but I don’t get the sensation from the comments that it has converted into a problem. Spain’s national health system in my opinion is just as good if not better than the UK:

"My biggest problem has been the exchange rate fluctuations and, now that I'm trying to sell, the state of the property market. I'm trapped in a place I don't want to be and I haven't the faintest idea whether things are going to get better or worse"

"I would have thought that language would have been near Nº one, but them coming from Germany I'm used to Bureaucracy. It's an adjustment for Brits or Americans living here but for any other European it's normal." 

" Years ago I would have said the 're-establishing a social life.' But after years of trying to do things in Spain, like buy a car, sell a car, buy a house, get a permission to do work on it, get electricity connected and so on, I've chosen the bureaucracy one."

Now that the EOS members have found the sun, left their home nation behind and finally bought their property are they happy with the cost of living, even to this very day? Apparently so, a massive 69,66% of the members believe Spain still offers a lower cost of living compared to their homeland however some issues like the area you live in and certain types of products did come under scrutiny:

" Spain is still very cheap compared with southern Ireland"

" Spain is not as cheap as it used to be, but I think it is still cheaper (overall) than the UK for normal living (food, accommodation etc.)"

" We feel it's still cheaper to live here because we would be paying a lot more for council tax, energy, diesel, etc. However, prices for eating out and prices in stores etc. have fallen a lot in the u.kç2

" It is often cheaper for me to buy from the UK or Germany and get things shipped in"

" Lack of competition makes electrical and other household items quite expensive compared to the UK. Food and other general basic living essentials are still cheaper than the UK."

" Much cheaper here. Higher-quality, fresher, cheaper food. Have a ‘menu del día’ a couple of times a week and avoid the evening a la carte menu."

" We have lived here for four years now and still feel it is cheaper than the UK"

" I think for a true comparison, salaries have to be taken into account as well. They are much lower here than in the UK, so my feeling is that if i lived in the UK, my disposable income at the end of the month would be much higher than what it is here in Spain."

" It's not all about the financial cost - it's about the Quality of Life.
Spain wins hands-down.! "

" Having lived for nearly half a century on a Hebridean island, where the cost of living was approximately 30% higher than the U.K. Mainland, I know for a fact that I can live in Mojacar, Spain for more than 50% less than on my island."

The sun is shining, the house is great, the cost of living is much better but are the Spanish as friendly as they hoped they would be? And the answer is a toppling YES, but not just as friendly the majority consider the Spanish to be even more friendly than the British. A whopping 68,14% shared this view and only 16,67% thought the Spanish were less friendly than the British, so the Spanish must be doing something right:

" I feel from my experience of living in the UK and Spain, that the Spanish in general are more likely to offer to help, invite you into their house and make you feel more at home much quicker than the average Brit. This is not a negative observation, just a different way of thinking."

" I think it is again a cultural thing. Here, in Spain, people find it easy to interact with strangers, they don´t think what do you want from me?"

" I would say that, superficially, the Spanish are more friendly on initial meeting but I've found it difficult to establish relationships of any depth with the people in Spain. Having lived in many countries, I've never come across this before. The British, on the other hand, take a while to get to know but, when you do become friends, that friendship is one that will last."

" What goes around comes around. How well you are treated very much depends on how well you treat others. It's true of any country or region. But if you expect everything to run the way it runs in your own country, forget it. Watch, listen & learn how things run here and adapt"

" Our house is in a small white pueblo in Andalucía that we can only afford to visit once a year. People on the street are wonderfully welcoming and friendly when we return and smile and chat in the street and our neighbour is more than helpful... They changed the electric meter in our absence and we couldn't understand it, she basically took us by the hand!"

"I am sure if your only experience of Spain is a holiday hot spot, you are missing out on the authentic Spaniards. They are welcoming, generous warm hearted and very helpful. On the whole, they'll open up their house to you very quickly and not in a superficial way. Like all relationships that can last a life time it takes two to tango and the Spanish are no different."

" it is very very common for the Spanish to have a large group of lifetime friends going back to early childhood. They are more social so it is probably much easier to keep these friendships alive. Just from being in Spain I think I have become a better person, it is contagious. I think I am more generous, more open minded and certainly speak my mind a lot more than I did in the UK."

So at the moment our average Eos member came to Spain because he/she was fed up with the UK, was looking for some decent weather, decided to buy a house and enjoy the low cost of living that Spain has to offer and the great hospitality of the Spaniards. Surely it can’t be that great?  Unfortunately 34,21% believe they will never integrate in Spanish lifestyle, some find the social structure to be too complicated and close-knit while other have managed to fit in perfectly. 65,79% believe that they have already integrated into Spanish society or are well on the way which was an extremely encouraging result as many ex-pats that move to other countries find it impossible to integrate. I suppose integration can be defined in many different ways and each person will have their own definition but at the end of the day it is what you feel and believe that matters and the majority of EOS voters believe it is perfectly possible: 

" We are trying to integrate and we too have realised that we could never fully integrate into the complex interwoven family structure of the Spanish people. However, that being said we are made as welcome as possible by most of the residents of our small town."

" We simply live here and intend to make the very best of it. Integration is not just a narrow fitting into one social niche - would one expect to fit into family life in some parts of the UK?, but it is should be an integration into the wider culture of wherever you live. In our town history and tradition are very important. This is what we have integrated into and reap rich rewards for doing so. "

One would think that to be integrated you must be able to speak the language and it is commonly thought that ex-pats in their vast majority don’t speak Spanish but it appears that the results from this poll support the results of the integration poll as the majority of the EOS members that participated, in fact 62,17% say they can speak at least enough Spanish to get by and be understood, 26,29% speak a high level of Spanish and can hold a decent conversation or are in fact fluent and only 2,59% of them can’t speak any Spanish worth mentioning. Now are EOS members so different from the rest of the ex-pats? I don’t think so and I think it is a very positive insight and contradictory to the general thought. However as with integration, “getting by” in a language has many interpretations but likewise it is how you feel and what you need to get by that makes the difference in your life abroad and if the majority feel they get by that is great news and certainly encouraging for people who are starting out at the moment:

"I’m staggered by how many expats just cant be bothered to even try. I would say that in my experience 95% of UK expats living in Spain have next to no knowledge of real Spanish - apart from the usual bar and drink words."

"Brits tends to live in a bubble. With more and more information available in English, there's less reason to learn Spanish and, as a consequence, less opportunity to understand the local culture. Many residents speak no more than 10 Spanish words in an average week – usually restaurant Spanish – and they pride themselves on 'getting by'.”

" I would urge all Brits to make the effort instead of complaining that the locals do not talk English."

" Some people learn languages faster than others, but we all have the ability in us. I have made a huge effort to learn Spanish during my visits here by watching Spanish TV, listening to the radio, using online resources and making Spanish pen-pals to write to and get support from."

" Certainly from my experience of expats in Spain the majority that I know can't get by although they may think they can. Maybe we should define what "get by" means!"

" Perseverance is the key - I only have Spanish TV, and have it on in the background all the time I'm indoors."

" I started to teach myself Spanish as soon as we knew we were buying here, and I got to the 'get by' level, and seemed to stick there.  I'm now going to weekly lessons, and I feel as if I'm learning something every week. It's not expensive - I pay 5 Euro - but it's a very worthwhile investment. "

"Yes I do speak enough Spanish to get by, depending on the circumstances, anything technical and I’m lost. However understanding it is quite another matter again it depends on the subject content. I am often able to fill in the gaps”

One may have found their perfect home, feel integrated, enjoy the company of their neighbours and a lower cost of living but are the members truly happy living in Spain?  Happiness entails many factors and it is something that can be very complicated to find when living abroad and one’s roots can be strongly tied, but given the fact that a large percentage of EOS members wanted to break their roots with the UK, even though not entirely, it would lead one to believe that they would make more of an effort to find happiness; try to integrate, learn the language and settle down, not just holiday in Spain and the results support this theory. 66,08% of the EOS members are happier living in Spain than their native country. Only 15,38% would actually rather go back. Yes there are moaners and groaners but clearly the vast majority who took part in this poll love the country. You could say everyone is looking through rose tinted glasses and so what, if they are happy and see life that way, it’s the only thing that is important. I would imagine that this 66,08% is closely related to the 68,14% that think the Spanish are friendlier, the 65,79% that feel integrated, the 62,17% that “get by” in Spanish, the 62,46% that decided to buy a property and the 69,66% of the members that still feel Spain offers a low cost of living. These polls were carried out over a period of more than 6 months and the results aren’t contradictory by any means. There is clearly a logic to them:

"You forgot a fourth option: "Not happy anywhere""

"My own take is that Spain is a wonderful country to live in EXCEPT when things go wrong and you are subject to the lack of justice over here. Therefore I would think that the majority of people happy - at the moment - since the majority have not been affected by the crushing burden of taking on the powers that be."

"We have a near perfect life; you just have to pick the right area we have done all the right things it is very cheap living in Spain. We could go on for ever telling you about it…"

"I live between London, Ibiza and Galway and find that the perfect combination but the more time I spend in Ibiza the better"

"I have always advised anyone making a move to Spain to without fail keep a place, however small, back in your own country. Much misery would be avoided if people would do this."

"Loved Spain loved watching my children grow up there but moved back to UK when it was time for them to start work as we thought it would be better for them (work wise) we all miss living in Spain so much but have fantastic memories "

One of the main factors that help to achieve happiness is feeling safe where you live and Spain is no different. Spain on the whole is an incredibly safe country and fortunately the results to this poll supported the facts. 49,35% of the members actually felt safer in Spain than in the UK and 32,03% felt just as safe. However 18,62% felt less safe than in the UK which surprised me, I thought it would have been less but some people have been incredibly unlucky from some of the comments that were posted. Somehow I think this 18,62% might be closely related to 15,38% that would rather go back to the UK and the 16,67% that feel the Spanish are less friendly and possibly part of the 34,21% that feel they will never integrate. Unlucky? Bad experiences? Not for them? Who knows? But there seems to be a link between the negative minority. Maybe I’m being unfair but I’m just reading into the results:

" A couple of years back, my teenage grandson went missing after a night's drinking. My daughter and I were walking the streets looking for him at 2.00am. We'd never have done that in the UK."

" During my early twenties I would go out drinking every weekend in Reading and every week I would see some sort of violence, either a fight or someone being forcibly removed by the bouncers...
When I was 27 I moved to the costa del sol for 2 years and during my time there I only saw 2 fights, and those were between British people!"

" Yes, we have been robbed by distraction thieves and lost a worrying amount of property and confidential information but you have to ask yourself whether your naivety didn't contribute something to the bad experience."

" Everyone I know in Spain has been either robbed or burgled and 2 were even violently assaulted. As a woman on my own, I feel much less safe in Spain than I ever did in the UK. "

" Spain is very safe. I feel a lot safer here than in my home country Belgium. The Spanish are not violent, nor do they get completely wasted on alcohol."

Finally I decided to ask the big question, where would you rather meet your maker? Some may have thought it was a bit macabre but I figured it was an interesting insight into how committed EOS members were when settling down in Spain and I was totally blown away by the results. I would never have thought that 48,32% intended to “pop their clogs” in Spain and didn’t have plans to move back towards the end. Many talk about retiring abroad but more often than not it is “temporary” but not in this case. 18% said that they weren’t really bothered whether they kicked the bucket in Spain or the UK , that’s 66,32% who haven’t made plans to go back towards the end, that percentage is starting to sound familiar…the rest 33,64% would rather move back and spend their final days in the UK.

" If I knew where I would 'pop my clogs' I would not go within a 1000 miles of the place."

" Now I am in gods waiting room there is no way I would go back to the UK to pop my clogs."

" I want my ashes to be sprinkled over Cabroig beach"

So all in all according to the results of these polls :
The average EOS member came to Spain in order to leave the UK behind, get some decent weather, he/she bought a house, gets by in Spanish, finds the Spanish friendlier than the British and Spain to be safer or just as safe as the UK, feel completely integrated or well on the way, is happier in Spain than their native country, is only really worried about bureaucracy but the lower cost of living compensates and last but not least is totally prepared to be laid to rest under the blue skies and the blazing sun of this wonderful country! 

Do you fit the profile?   



Like 1


Sandra Piddock said:
20 June 2013 @ 13:51

I fit the profile exactly - in fact if you hadn't gone into so much detail, I'd think you'd just lifted my poll responses and used me as 'Your Average Expat!'

Good insights there, and a great read. Thank you.

Mike said:
21 June 2013 @ 11:43

Great read Mac I fit the profile like a glove! Thanks for going to all that effort! Really interesting insight

Maureen said:
22 June 2013 @ 07:17

I love Spain and would never want to return to the UK. Like most of those who are positive in your survey, I've learnt to speak Spanish reasonably well, have lovely Spanish near neighbours and, as a widow, feel perfectly safe living out in the country. Of course, no place is perfect, but this is as near a it gets!

Don Lochnagar said:
22 June 2013 @ 08:34

Yep, got me to a tee!

Helen said:
22 June 2013 @ 08:57

We are at the very early stages of planning a move to spain, this is incredibly heartening information. Some things you read would scare you to death, but its great to come across a genuinely balanced view, thank you

Christopher Gamble said:
22 June 2013 @ 10:17

Great little snap shot if hardly forensic research....keep it going mate!

Doedoe said:
22 June 2013 @ 10:47

Great Poll, most answers are as We feel.
My grumble is with the Spanish authorities.
They do not control the companies that fleece a property purchaser. After 7 years we are still waiting for the local Spanish council to allow one community of 44 apt, to put right & repair the damage from the Builder, His tenants & squatters (friends of the Builder etc) have made living in our apartment complex unpleasant.
When the agreement is completed by the local Rafal council, we will be able to enjoy what we have invested in, to live in this lovely Spanish Village and spend our retirement enjoying the Spanish way of life. Rafal has everything we want and the local Nationals are good people.
Having spent just a few weeks each year since purchasing our apartment. Which is purely our home and not for letting. We still live in the UK but would love to live in our apartment as Spanish residents.
Being very careful people and worried about the the official needs, this has not been possible as we would only move to Spain if the property had the Habitation Certificate and other legal documentation. We are both retired, do not need employment and long for the day the repairs & builders unfinished work has been completed by the Complex community.
The Local Council have been dragging there feet for 6 years, elections have given new Head Councillors and the saga goes on. We just hope we will live long enough to enjoy our Dream.

Finisterre said:
22 June 2013 @ 22:41

Very interesting read, and flattered that you used a quote of mine! Thanks for putting this together.

Michael Peach said:
14 December 2013 @ 18:21

Congratulations a good pole, I personally have had a very happy 47 years in total, a 7 year period and then a 40 year period in this lovely Country, although the first years were the best in the times of Franco when Spain was Spain and we had a wonderful way of life when you could leave your house open, keys in your car, and walk the streets with out fear of being robed , but of course democracy comes at a price, and personally I don't reckon it much, now we are committed to keeping corrupt politicians etc the same as England, and to keeping a load of freeloaders in Brussels who I never voted for , did you ?.

Michael Peach said:
14 December 2013 @ 18:22

Congratulations a good pole, I personally have had a very happy 47 years in total, a 7 year period and then a 40 year period in this lovely Country, although the first years were the best in the times of Franco when Spain was Spain and we had a wonderful way of life when you could leave your house open, keys in your car, and walk the streets with out fear of being robed , but of course democracy comes at a price, and personally I don't reckon it much, now we are committed to keeping corrupt politicians etc the same as England, and to keeping a load of freeloaders in Brussels who I never voted for , did you ?.

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