Almost a million Britons live in Spain, many of which are based near the cities of Valencia and Alicante. Many of the doom mongers are fearing the end of the World for wannabe expats to Spain but the reality is that the effects are likely to be minimal, after all it’s in the best interests of the Spain to keep Brits coming and spending!
Here are some positive results of Brexit
Readers fed up with all the negativity have asked us to try and put some positive spin on the result of the Brexit referendum and the economic fall out, which began even before the results came in.
It has not been easy, but we’ve had a go at looking on the bright side of Brexit for Brits in Spain.
Cheaper visits back home
With the value of the pound falling surely and swiftly since Friday morning – on Tuesday it was worth around €1.20 – life in Spain for those Britons who rely on income from back home will be more expensive. But on the flip side, it will certainly make trips home to see the family in Britain a little cheaper. Especially if you earn a wage in euros but spend in pounds.
Christmas shopping at Harrods never looked so good.
We’ve been here before
The fall in the pound is indeed worrying and Brits have told The Local they have already seen the value of their pensions cut. But the one thing to remember is that we’ve been here before.
“Back in 2008 we saw almost parity between the euro and the pound so at the moment it’s not too disastrous,” Victoria Lewis, a financial advisor, told The Local.
“Most people are not panicking yet,” she said.
Cate Carnduff from Herman de Graaf estate agents added: “The pound is always going up and down and around. We nearly had parity a few years ago and we didn’t go out of business.”
— The Local Spain (@TheLocalSpain) September 1, 2016
But as well as those who pile through the arrival gates each year, there are hundreds if not thousands who return to Britain.
For people who already own property in Spain, now might just be the time to put it on the market, sell up and head home. Thanks to the exchange rate you’re going to be able to get more for your money back home. And it might even get better if you wait a little bit.
“Given the thrashing of the exchange rates it is a good time to sell your house and buy sterling,” said Maura Hillen, a town councillor in Albox representing expats.
And it’s not all bad news for buyers
While it may become a good market for leavers (those heading out of Spain, not those who voted Out) the reality is that it’s still not too bad for buyers either. While estate agents are clearly concerned, they say there are still many great deals out there for those looking to sell up in the UK and buy a house in Spain.
“The Brits buy in Spain for the wonderful climate and bohemian lifestyle. That hasn’t changed and houses in Spain will always have a pull for the British purchaser,” a spokesman for property website Kyero told The Local.
“There was a very healthy market for Spanish property before Spain joined the Eurozone and there’ll still be a thriving market once Britain leaves. Property prices in Spain remain relatively low, and this is still an excellent time to make a shrewd investment in the Spanish property market.”
Nothing will happen for a while, if ever?
One thing that is certain is that nothing will happen for a while. And some, in fact many are suggesting that it will become so complicated for the UK to leave the EU that it might never happen.
In the meantime Simon Manley, British Ambassador in Madrid sent a message of calm to expats in Spain.
“The truth is that, right now, nothing has changed. You can still live here, work here, just as you did before.”
There should not be any major problems for the majority, but you never know.
Anyway, this depends on how the Brexit is implemented. If the UK goes back to the EFTA*, basically Brexit would have no impact on Britishmen in Spain, as they would keep their freedom to remain in Spain (as long as they do not become a burden on welfare).
However, if the UK becomes a lone ranger, its nationals would suddenly be “demoted” to unpriviledged foreigners, like Moroccans or Chinese. I understand that a large number of British people in Spain have reached the status of permanent residents**, so their right to remain is now almost unconditional, but may still face substantial discrimination in some fields, and deal with a lot more of bureaucracy.
For those who have not attained this status, and leaving aside the very likely possibility of the government passing some extraordinary measures, they would be required to request the status of “residencia temporal no lucrativa” (temporary, not-for-profit residence), which is the situation envisioned for those who come to Spain “just” to live here.
I have written about it here: Guillermo López López’s answer to How do I immigrate to Spain from a non EU country?
On the minority of British that do live and work in Spain, and have not attained permanent resident status yet, I guess they would be automatically classed into one of the several temporary residence permits. Conceivably, they might be ordered to leave the country, and have their residence permits revoked, if the government considers that the “situation of the labour market” cannot sustain them; but I think this is unlikely, and not worth the hassle. Always have travel insurance if you go to Spain because EHIC is not enough!
* European free trade association, an international organisation fostered by the UK in the 60s as an alternative to the EU without its political overtones. Nowadays, it integrates Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, and serves the purpose of allowing access to the single market by guaranteeing the famous four freedoms, without integrating in any of the other EU ventures.
** Spanish law allows foreigners to petition for this status after five years residing in Spain.