In my list of ten reasons for living in Spain, I listed the weather, culture, wine and other aspects, but British expatriates have long favoured Spain as the country to which to retire, closely followed by France. However, this has changed somewhat over the last decade since Spain joined the euro zone in 1999 which resulted in an estimated 60% rise in living costs. Although coins and notes were not circulated until 2002, property became more expensive. The economic downturn in 2008 and weak pound meant that British pensioners struggled to exist on their fixed incomes and some returned to the UK. This ebb and flow will always exist as “persons of the third age”, as they are known in Spain, returned to their families in the UK and as economic cycles of low interest rates and unfavourable exchange rates encourage and discourage investment in the ever-changing fiscal and economic landscape. There are generations of youngsters who have grown up in southern Spain, particularly Andalucia, and are completely bilingual and whose families have completely integrated into the relaxed Mediterranean way of life.
For those people who work overseas and may be winding down their workload, Spain is a great location within easy commuting distance of traditional expatriate hot spots such as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Some families have elected to be based in Spain while husbands work abroad, preferring a more open environment in which to bring up their children. With the exception of the big cities, the crime rate is much lower in Spain than the UK with anti social behaviour orders being almost unheard of!
For working women, Spain is particularly attractive. Spanish ladies love interacting with people of all nationalities. Women moving to Spain find it easy to integrate, especially if they learn the language. The Spanish are inquisitive and want to know about other cultures and ways of life. There are also a large number of international clubs and other groups to join. Women can get involved at all levels within business from administration to selling to management. Social gatherings are daily occurences giving opportunities for networking. Many a business arrangement is made over a glass of Rioja!