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A Foot in Two Campos

Thoughts from a brand new home-owner in the Axarquía region of Málaga. I hope there might be some information and experiences of use to other new purchasers, plus the occasional line to provoke thought or discussion.

178 - Big Blue Skies - Small Cloud
Wednesday, August 7, 2019 @ 4:28 PM

Back when I worked (oh how long ago it seems, now!) I was up with all the jargon.  Words like social inclusion, stakeholders, outcomes and future-proofing.  The charity sector’s version of management-speak.  And yet all of a sudden I am “future-proofing” all sorts of aspects of my life!  And it feels quite serious.


Purely by luck rather than any sort of forward planning my house will, I think, do me well into old age.  Watching friends both in Spain and the UK needing to make adaptations or move to more manageable accommodation or nearer essential services triggered a very serious walk around my house, looking at it dispassionately.  Will it work for my later years?  Yes, I think so.  There’s a downstairs bedroom with easy access to the bathroom.  At a pinch, a stairlift might even be possible.  I’m in the village centre, easy access to shops, buses, neighbours etc.  And, as importantly as any of those practicalities, it’s where I want to be.


A couple of friends have thought that I’m being premature.  But a stroke, a fall, a broken hip, a debilitating illness, these things can strike at any time.  We all know that.  We’ve all seen it.  And how much harder is it to move when in the middle of any of those problems?


So the house will suit me until they carry me off to a nursing home or to the crematorium.  Yet all the while, all the small changes I can make now, all the slightly bigger changes that I can envisage and budget for further down the line, the over-arching question-mark is still there, hanging there, that uncertainty, probably manageable for most of us, probably not for some.  Is there any point in planning for the future while the dark cloud of the unmentionable B-word hovers over us?


In the meantime, a big part of future-proofing continues to be improving and perfecting the Spanish language.  Because only through the language are deep friendships made, and only through deep friendships are real roots put down.  So I carry on studying, carry on practising with friends, including with Jose, my inter-cambio language partner since I arrived (and always my best resource).


Yet all the while, all the time the language improves, that cloud still hangs there.  The hours and the money on lessons … we lack the certainty to be 100% sure that it’s all worth while.  The brain says “of course it is!” and I continue to actively help and encourage other British people wanting to learn Spanish.  But deep inside the niggle is there.  Learning and improving the language assumes a future here.  Despite the clear blue Spanish summer sky, we are never without that cloud.  It just hangs there.


So there is not just the normal future-proofing that everyone should be on top of – updating the will, ensuring that loved ones are protected – five million of us have extra future-proofing to do, we have to do Brexit-proofing.  Of course, everyone has to, not just those of us who exercised our Treaty rights to live in a different country.  Everyone needs to prepare (just like the leaders of the Leave campaign, most of whom have demonstrated their patriotism by moving trust funds, wealth management companies, or their manufacturing base out of the UK).  But we lesser mortals have to plough through a list of additional tasks, whether we are citizens of EU27 countries living in the UK, or UK citizens living in one of the EU27 countries.


Future-proofing our residency cards.  After five years of official residency in Spain we are entitled to change them for a card that has the word “permanent” on it.  Only a small change, but the “guidance in case of No Deal” that the Spanish government has prepared for us sets out that people without “permanent” residency may have more hoops to jump through in the future when we become “Third Country Nationals” and change to a different, non-EU identity card.   When we have fewer rights.  When we don’t, in fact, have the RIGHT to be here, we only have “permission”.


Future-proofing our driving licences.  I finally got round to exchanging my driving licence for a Spanish one.  In case of No Deal.  Because we don’t know.  Because so many things remain unclear.  They have taken my British one, given me a temporary one, and I check the postbox each morning awaiting the Brexit-proof Spanish licence (which will need explaining when I drive in the UK!).


Health care.  The big one.  Frankly, all I can do is check my savings account and my ISA and hope and assume that there is enough in there to take care of me in the case of No Deal.  You move to another EU country safe in the knowledge that the 300,000 British pensioners who have done the same before you, have their healthcare funded by the UK (from the taxes paid throughout our lives) paid to our new host country through the EU-wide agreement.  Without a Deal, many will reluctantly return to the UK, unable to pay for healthcare and medications out of a pension which every month buys fewer euros.  Pensioners faced with bills of 1,000€ a month, some even more, just for medications.  Those of us lucky enough to have come out here with a bit of a cushion check it nervously, wondering if it will last.  The enormous blue sky stretches from the village to beyond the mountains.  And in the middle, unseen by everyone except British people, hangs that cloud.

I went on one of my little road-trips last week.  Una escapada.  A lovely few days, meeting old friends and new.  Back via a village that’s not too far from me, Torrox Pueblo, which traditionally hangs umbrellas in the main square to provide spots of shade and a bit of colour.  Lovely!  Colourful.  Photogenic.  From nowhere, between the coloured brollies, up in the blue Spanish summer sky, a white cloud drifted across.



The cloud is always there.  Life goes on, we future-proof, and as far as we can we Brexit-proof.  But life is in limbo for five million people about to lose our rights.  There’s a cloud that doesn’t go away.  Never a day or even an hour goes by without it forcing its way, uninvited, into our thoughts.  And a coloured umbrella won’t be enough to protect us.



©  Tamara  Essex  2019                         

Like 1


eos_ian said:
Friday, August 9, 2019 @ 8:35 PM

Hi Tamara, it's great to read your writing again. Thanks!

Charlietwice said:
Saturday, August 10, 2019 @ 9:10 AM

A great price Tamara. Sums up the uncertainty that many feel at this time. How sad that it's come to this.

GlenysT said:
Saturday, August 10, 2019 @ 11:47 AM

Tamara, your negativity about Brexit makes me sad. Life is too short to be giving this topic as much thought as you are doing. As long as you have made the provision that you have i.e. residence, health care, driving license and don't forget a current passport, there is little more that you can do. So take each day as it comes and enjoy having permission (I will never think of it as a right) to live in this beautiful country with its welcoming people.

Having worked with older and disabled people most of my working life I admire that you are age proofing your home. I have friends in their 70s who have just moved from a villa to a house with many steps and stairs. I can only wish them good health but I won't be visiting as I have a leg injury which makes it impossible for me to access their house. Best wishes

DJF42 said:
Saturday, August 10, 2019 @ 12:29 PM

I am surprised by your latest blog Tamara, you usually come across as a positive, optimistic person and yet this blog shows a lot of negativity and pessimism.
As Glenys has said you are worrying about matters that the EU has no jurisdiction over, ie pensions, health care, driving licenses. All these were decided with bi-lateral agreements long before 1973. Don't forget the high number of Spanish working and living in the UK as we are here, the Spanish government are not going to ruin their citizens lives for a failed federalist project.
Remember we Brits bring a lot of much needed currency into Spain and another thing to remember is that the EU exports more goods into the UK than the UK exports into the EU. The EU is not our biggest export market.
Do you really think that big business will let the egomaniac EU federalists ruin there businesses and therefore jobs and tax income. Keep calm, leaving the EU will be fine.

moonbeam said:
Saturday, August 10, 2019 @ 2:30 PM

A well written and well thought out piece outlining the factual information that of course makes many people feel worried and uncertain.

As said above, how sad that it has come to this.

DJF42 said:
Saturday, August 10, 2019 @ 5:05 PM

moonbeam, not sure that what has been "well written and thought out" is indeed factual. I'm afraid it is a case of fake information put out by the remainers. That is not to say there has not been the anything of the kind from the leavers, however, people must look behind the propaganda and get to the truth which, happens to be less dramatic than is believed will occur.

Besss said:
Saturday, August 10, 2019 @ 5:18 PM

Think a bit? YOU have 'demonstrated your patriotism' by leaving Britain, taking capital for a house and taking your income with you, to be spent in Spain and benefit their economy whilst being lost to Britain. I have no problem with you changing your residence and driving licence and loyalty to Spain, a wonderful place and lovely people, may friendship flourish between our countries.
But we British who stayed, and earn and spend in our country have the right to decide if we want to run it ourselves, which a majority did.
Through EU, a lot of our money has flowed to Spain, building roads and the improved economy, that is great, not begrudged. Mutual generosity and support can now be direct in future, not done by diktat of an unelected and corrupt bureaucracy.
I wish you well in your 'future proofed' life; nothing is certain but all indications are that Spain is pleased with the large income stream flowing from Britain to Spain through British pensioners and will continue to make their life easy. Or as easy as their own citizens, (having endured Spanish bureaucracy..)

Dave11 said:
Saturday, August 10, 2019 @ 6:26 PM

A very good article.. You are SPOT ON re Brexit and correct re how it's going to turn out (not negative as some have said, but factual). No winner in the Brexit game - other than the politicians and they will keep taking the salary plus ex's every month, so it won't affect them!!!!

GlenysT said:
Saturday, August 10, 2019 @ 7:17 PM

Well Besss, I am thinking and can't really understand any point that you are making. As a couple we paid tax in the UK for forty years. We pay a much lesser amount now whilst legitimately living in Spain as pensioners. You should realise though that many expats live in Spain under the radar, using services whilst making no contribution. Also, more Spanish people live and work in the UK than the other way around so no loss to the UK there. Nobody has a life which is future proofed, I don't understand your point. You voted out so get on with it. It is disgraceful the length of time Brexit has taken due to scare mongering, self serving MPs who care more about their careers than democracy. Although I live in Spain I do feel that I am entitled to an opinion.

tamaraessex said:
Saturday, August 10, 2019 @ 10:45 PM

Some very amusing comments on here! Glenys even seems to think I voted Leave - I can't imagine why, as my sadness at the whole process is, I think, fairly obvious!

My apologies to those who think I'm being negative. I see it as realism.

DJF42 will be in for a bit of a surprise if s/he imagines that leaving the EU turns the clock back to before we joined. Most of the pre-EU agreements have been superseded and ARE now part of EU legislation (ie driving licences, aggregated pensions for people who have worked in more than one EU country, and of course healthcare). But hey, there's none so blind as those who will not see!

GlenysT said:
Saturday, August 10, 2019 @ 11:55 PM

Sorry Tamara, I was responding to Besss in my last missive. I realise that you wouldn't vote leave. Just trying to cheer you up a bit because I don't believe it is all doom and gloom.

DJF42 said:
Sunday, August 11, 2019 @ 11:14 AM

Tamara, I believe you have read too much into my mention of 1973. Whilst we are on the subject did you know that the agreement signed then was for a EEC, European Economic Community, but did you also know that that very document was placed on the top secret list for 30 years because it contained exactly what is going to happen soon ie a federalist state ruled by the unelected.
Just read the history of France and Germany, they have been trying to do it for hundreds of years.
As for the rules that are now part of the EU legislation, yes I agree, but at least we will now have the choice of what to keep and what to reject.
Keep calm, all will be fine, I will not be surprised and I voted with my eyes and mind wide open.

tamaraessex said:
Monday, August 12, 2019 @ 1:20 PM

Oh yes! Sorry Glenys! No, I know it's not all doom and gloom. Those of us who have kept up to date with the emergency law Spain passed in case of No Deal, and the Moncloa guidance, and those of us with "residente con carácter permanente" written on our cards, can be moderately relaxed. Healthcare remains a concern, but I am fortunate to be financially able to make other arrangements if necessary. That doesn't cushion me from worrying about friends with extremely expensive medications, though!

Getting Older said:
Monday, August 19, 2019 @ 5:16 PM

Tamara you should be eligible for free healthcare as a Spanish Resident under Sanchez's Universal Healthcare Act, regardless of whether we are in the EU or not. We are not yet of pensionable age but have managed to get this, administered from Sevilla and with the normal green healthcare card.

We are in Almeria province and share your worry and uncertainty!

Getting Older said:
Monday, August 19, 2019 @ 5:16 PM

Tamara you should be eligible for free healthcare as a Spanish Resident under Sanchez's Universal Healthcare Act, regardless of whether we are in the EU or not. We are not yet of pensionable age but have managed to get this, administered from Sevilla and with the normal green healthcare card.

We are in Almeria province and share your worry and uncertainty!

moonbeam said:
Monday, August 19, 2019 @ 8:03 PM

Unfortunately, each autonomous region has been asked by central government to implement this law separately and not under a central government umbrella. So a rather grey area and all very unclear at the moment. It was brought into effect to firstly cover Spanish citizens - who before used to lose their right to free healthcare if they stopped contributing (after unemployment and end of unemployment benefit for example) and had to get continued NHS cover by joining a relative´s cover at the same address. Obviously, caused problems for people who were not in the situation to do this. A lot of residents are not aware of the fact that the Spanish NHS was not as generous as the British when not contributing.

It was also to cover the problem with immigrants without papers who could not afford the contributions to join the NHS.
It was never designed to cover normal non-UE residents. So who knows what will be decided if we all become non-UE residents.

moonbeam said:
Monday, August 19, 2019 @ 8:31 PM

PS The Citizens Advice Bureau (Spanish branch) website has a section dedicated to the lack of clarity regarding Sanchez´s Universal Healthcare Act re how it affects British.

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