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Those who moved back to UK from Spain
Posted: 22 January 2012 01:46 PM  
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There have been many over the last couple of years who have stated that they are moving back to the UK because they can not afford to live in Spain. Most state that it is the rate for the pound.

This question is to those who have moved back to the UK;

If you had your time over again and had waited would it have made you stay in Spain?

One of the main comments is that the decline in the pound has made their pension worth a lot less, but if we look at it closer, has it! if we say the pension in 2006 was £1000 the rate was 1.45, if we say a rate of inflation for the pension is 2% then the 2011 pension would be £1104 with an exchange rate of 1.21.

So in 2006 £1000 at 1.45 would give you €1450
In 2011 given 2% inflation per year £1000 is now be £1104 at 1.21 which would give you €1335

That is down €115 per month

So, does €115 per month make it worth the cost of moving back to the UK, with the loss on the price of your house, legal costs and removal cost.

Or, are those who were thinking of moving back, now with the increase in the value of the pound are you still looking to make the move back to the UK with its high inflation and poor weather.

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Posted: 22 January 2012 08:54 PM  
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I think people use this as an excuse because they don’t want to admit they can’t hack it. It is a no brainer - with council tax, TV licence, extra fuel bills (yes it gets cold in Spain but not for such a long winter as UK) higher car costs, higher rental costs etc. - and just the simple pleasures in life a cold beer or a coffee probably costing 3 times as much in the UK - how could you justify it on cost?
OK so Spain is not for everyone - fair enough, but don’t blame the finances.
I do understand Brits who need to work - that is now very difficult here, and maybe easier in the UK, without the language barrier and probably better benefits (inc free health cover).
What do others think?

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Posted: 22 January 2012 09:28 PM  
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Rob, I have to agree with you, particularly the first comment in your post.
I often wonder why people come to Spain (or indeed to any other country) if they know it is going to be too expensive for them, or there is not a chance of a job (not because there are not jobs in Spain, but because they have no qualifications), and no notion of the language..  When it doesn’t work out, and they get into financial difficulties,  then they have to return to the U.K.
The sweet life, where it doesn’t matter if you work or not,  be it in Spain or elsewhere, is for the wealthy. 

Casual work is very scarce in Spain, and probably very scarce everywhere, I should imagine. 

As for the climate, well I have never enjoyed the hammering heat of the Spanish Summers (the “sol de justicia”).  People complain about the weather back in U.K. but I also think that is just an excuse.  Some months back on T.V. there were U.K. farmers in certain parts of the country complaining about a three-month drought and their concerns for their crops.  So evidently it does not rain all the time…..!

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Posted: 23 January 2012 01:39 AM  
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We moved out here in 2006 when the exchange rate was around 1.5:1. At that time our only income was from three small private pensions which together totaled around 1000 Euros per month. We had purchased a very small one bed-roomed house in an inland village with the proceeds of my redundancy money and a small cash sum commuted from each of two of the pensions.

The refurb and 2nd bedroom extension of the Spanish property would, we hoped, be paid for by the eventual proceeds of the sale of our house in the UK once the mortgage and other outstanding accounts were cleared. In the event this didn’t quite happen because our rogue builder (a Brit) walked off the job never to be seen again, when I refused to hand over a sum equating to an additional 10% above the agreed refurbishment costs.

Today some 5 years later, the house is habitable and legal but there is still work outstanding which we simply cannot afford to get done.

In Sept 2008, coincident with the commencement of my UK State pension, I started to keep a monthly record of our nett income.

Remember this is all pension derived…

In Sept 2008 our nett income was 1715 Euros; since then it has has decreased despite annual increases in line with RPI.

This month, January 2011, it has for the first time risen a few Euros above the Sept 2008 figure to 1730 Euros.

This relatively consistent income is entirely due to the vagaries of the UK Taxation system and the Stg / Euro exchange rate but at various points during the recording period our income has fallen to less than 1400 Euros. At other times, the poor exchange rate has effectively cancelled out the ‘Winter Fuel Payment’. (I feel very strongly that W.F.A. is a legal and moral entitlement for all UK pensioners irrespective of where they live… where we live at 3000 ft altitude during the winter months we see temps way down below zero regularly. In any case the payment goes part way to restoring a pension level which is variable, normally downwards, by the exchange rate resulting from the gross mishandling of the UK economy by parliament and the banks.

In the meantime however the cost of living here has increased dramatically over the last five years… fuel and electricity costs are up by around 35%, food costs more, so we are a lot worse off than we were in 2006.

For a pensioner permanently in the UK, the purchasing power of their income is steady; out here it is variable monthly and decreasing…

Would I go back… Nah not a chance… O.H. spends a lot of time back in the UK seeing family but her trips have to be self supporting.

So sorry Rob, but for an awful lot of people it is about the finances…

For the genuine non rip-off Brits who came out here to work and found themselves unable to continue due to the recession… it’s definitely about the finances.

For the ex-pat pensioners who like myself have seen their pensions purchasing power stagnate or decrease by up to 30% whilst having to simultaneously absorb price increases of up to 35% it’s definitely about the finances.

Finally for the rip-off brigade who, having connived, robbed, ripped off and embezzled their way through the Costas and gone bust anyway… it couldn’t have happened to a more deserving group.

Campana…

I often wonder why people come to Spain (or indeed to any other country) if they know it is going to be too expensive for them, or there is not a chance of a job (not because there are not jobs in Spain, but because they have no qualifications), and no notion of the language.

It’s called lack of research; most don’t know, or don’t want to know, and as for the lack of knowledge of the Spanish language a hell of a lot of them don’t even have a working familiarity with their own native language… as is so obvious when reading some of the threads on that other forum…

Some months back on T.V. there were U.K. farmers in certain parts of the country complaining about a three-month drought and their concerns for their crops.  So evidently it does not rain all the time…..!

The big problem with the rainfall in the UK is simply that the main storage points are in the wrong places and the privatised water companies and the government will not pay up to fund a national water grid, so whilst areas like the Lake District and North Wales have far more water than ever they need the infrastructure to transport it to other areas simply doesn’t exist.

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Posted: 23 January 2012 07:24 PM  
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OK guys good range of points…........I too am a pensioner so subject to currency fluctutions and yes the cost of living has risen here - diesel (actually went back down a little today) and electricity especially. But then so have costs risen in the UK and I still say its dearer to live there than here - especially for renters. I have never been involved with the benefits system but I suppose Brits who qualify will be better off there than here from that angle.
Yes casual work is now scarce and is being forced out of the economy by having fines on those employing people without proper contracts.
And yes some of the biggest scams have been pulled by Brits on other Brits and yes many have done no research whatsoever and so I guess they get what they deserve.
Another angle is of course the very poor returns on (most) investments which was another source of income for many.
I think the Spanish tax system is still very fair and for those who have yet to declare here - again you will be coming under pressure to sort out your tax affaits and that includes non residents as well.
Anyway I had a fabulous day today walking in the Mar Menor area in delightful weather with friends, just looking at the salt lakes and birdlife, had a 2,50€ fry up and got some exercise to justify the feast!

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Posted: 24 January 2012 03:14 PM  
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Heh heh Foxat.  How right you are about those who don’t even have a working familiarity with their own language.  ( I think it is called functional illiteracy and a while back I read that it is far more prevalent than one might imagine).  You make a good point when you say that many did not even WANT to do any research before moving to Spain And you were considered to be raining on their parade if you tried to point out certain pitfalls. 
Then again there were quite a few cases, maybe many, where one spouse wanted to move to Spain and the other didn’t.  I’ve met them, and the vibe between them at the time wasn’t good.  The husband (or the wife) would tell me in an aside: “I don’t want to do this”.  Often, sadly, it was a keep up with the Joneses scenario.  They had a nice lifestyle back in the U.K. or wherever.  Living in a nice area, maybe golf club members back there, long-time friends, but one spouse wanted to be on a par with Jack and Jenny down the road who had bought a pad in Spain somewhere. 
And if you are running from something (including running from yourself) well Spain is not the place to go!!  I’ve lived in Spain for decades and seen a lot of sad situations.

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Posted: 25 January 2012 03:02 PM  
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Hi all,

I agree with the point about not learning the language, as you may know, we rent and sell property in Spain and have done for a number of years. One of the first things we tell those looking to move to Spain is learn the language right from day one before they even start to look in earnest. The reply, we will be going close to people we know in an area were most of the people are Brits, so we will not need to speak the language, I ask, you will not be doing any shopping then! getting on a bus, filling up the car with fuel, going to the Bank.

The strangest one is when you ask why they are making the giant step and moving to another country, the best answer I had was that there are to many imigrants here and they do not speak our language or even try, Mmmmm, that sounds familiar.

I find that most of those who want to return to the UK are those who have moved or bought in Spain since 2007 when they took advantage of the Free 3 days away with one of the big selling agents with free flights, hotel, food and drink, then with the sun an thair back and lots of plonk inside them, they sign on the line and return home with a smile on their faces and an even bigger smile on the face of the agent who has just picked up big bucks in commission, oh how things have changed. When they get home they realise just what they have done and the cost implications. They do not understand that there will be another 12% on top of the price they thought they paid to cover legal costs etc, they think that it is the same as the UK, but a €200000 property will have costs on top of about €24000 payable on completion. They then realise that they had paid more than they thought they would as they got carried away with the experience and maybe paid €50k more than they planned, plus the extra €24k, it now becomes a problem.

I feel these are the people who are returning to UK or selling up saying they can not afford to live there.

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Posted: 25 January 2012 04:49 PM  
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When did spain get expensive for expats ? will the frist was the exchange rate , euro and sterling and outher was the Euro , yes price in spain shout up . do you rember the change over ?

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Posted: 25 January 2012 04:58 PM  
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I agree entirely with your post Damatt.  And by the sounds of it Alf Garnett is still alive and well in the U.K.!

What you say about the free flights, free plonk and the consequent leaving of brains on the plane, is totally true as well.  I mean, buying a piece of property (anywhere!) is a big decision, and not like buying a new bicycle or a dress.  None of the people you describe even listened to what they were being told, and I am sure they were warned in many cases.  In denial, blinded by the sun and befuddled with the agents’ hospitality, they never thought of that 12% on top of the price.  I have met people in the throes of such euphoria, I’ve even told them not to do it, but, what the hell, it’s only a house or apartment.  !!
I could fill several books with stories of the strange things people do.

Campana

 

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Posted: 25 January 2012 05:01 PM  
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I remember the change-over all two well Jur.  Breakfast en route to work is about 3 euro.  What’s that ? About 500 Pesetas.  Breakfast used to be at most 100 Pesetas Everything went right off the page.

Campana

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Posted: 25 January 2012 05:07 PM  
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The changover is just a way of making inflation legal, it was the same in 1971 in the UK.

The changover to the euro, I remember, I was driving up through France from a week in the Alps, they changed on the Sunday and I stopped on the Saturday afternoon to fill up with fuel and went to pay in Francs, but they would not accept it as they would be changing over that night, so not having any euro’s, I had to pay on a debit card which made the fuel even more expensive.

I agree, Alf is still around, though not as loud now that West Ham are in the Championship.

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Posted: 13 February 2012 05:13 PM  
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Since my parents moved over here four years ago, they’ve had to watch things financially. They “retired” early, but aren’t quite at pension age yet, so they’re reliant on the interest from their savings as an income. The drop in the interest rates on savings has been the biggest hit for them. They’ve no plans to return to the UK though. Something they’ve done to balance the loss of interest, with the exchange rates fluctuating, has been to transfer money back to the UK when the rates are favourable and vice-versa. Playing the exchange rate market, if you will.

When I moved here seven years ago, I moved lock-stock. I’ve no financial ties to the UK whatsoever, so am reliant on regular work here in Spain. Whilst it’s not been easy, especially with the financial situation throughout Europe, I’ve managed ok.

As someone who’s “legal” though, I am hoping that proposed reforms to the autonomo system come to fruition, because I believe Spain is one of the most expensive EU countries to be self-employed. That said, I know I’ll get a pension here, because I’ve been paying into the system. Any reductions in the monthly tax and social security contributions will be very welcome, if they actually happen.

The biggest hit so far as expenses for me and my work, I would say, has been the dramatic rise in fuel costs. When I first came here, a full tank of diesel in my Berlingo was about €40. Now it’s almost double that. Materials costs haven’t changed much, but then, I enjoy great working relationships with the various suppliers I trade with. Labour costs, for myself and the Spanish tradesmen I deal with hasn’t altered much either. So the main impact on prices we quote our clients has more to do with rising fuel costs, than anything else. For the most part, we’ve tried to absorb them as much as we can, though inevitably, sometimes we’ve had to factor travel costs into some of the contracts we undertake.

As for returning to the UK, it’s something I never foresee myself doing. I’m perhaps fortunate that if I did choose to return, I could find work quite easily and probably earn a lot more than I do here in Spain. I enjoy the place, the quality of life and the friends I’ve made here though. Those things are worth far more to me. I’m a great believer that you get out of something, what you put into it in the first place. Do your homework, learn the language and integrate… then I really don’t see why someone like myself, who’s a long way from retirement age, can’t make a go of things.

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Posted: 13 February 2012 06:05 PM  
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I am glad to see that you are settled, but you have been in Spain for 10 years so not one of those who could have fallen for the hard sell and bought with the sun on their back and the sangria in their belly.

Transfering money can also be a risky thing to do, I assume you have found an FX company who will do the transfers for free and not using the bank who in most cases give tourist rate and charge you for their pleasure. I suppose someone has to pay for the bankers bonus.

I wonder how many of those who do return to the Uk think that fuel in the UK is now double what it was 2 years ago, VAT is another 2.5% higher at 20% so if prices are rising in Spain, they are also rising in the UK and the sun does not shine as much in UK as it does in Spain, so I assume the heating bills will be more in the UK and with gas and electricity going up by 12% last year it will be expensive to move back.

What will the real reason be for moving back?

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Posted: 13 February 2012 07:21 PM  
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Heh heh Damatt. 

“who could have fallen for the hard sell and bought with the sun on their back and the sangria in their belly.”  And, left their brains on the plane.  Some bought in the same vein as if they were buying a bike or a new dress. 

I suspect that many of these people will move or have moved back to the U.K.  There are very many people who are simply not suited to living in a country other than their own, temperamentally, financially, emotionally, psychologically .  They will probably end up moving back, if they have a home to move back to, that is. They maybe had a fantasy idea of life in the sun.  Speaking of which, there are very cold and damp Winters in Spain, and since insulation is often not of the same standard as in the U.K. the heating bills can be high. 
I always found electricity in Spain to be higher than back home.  Maybe that has changed.

I know people who have moved back after many years in Spain, many years.  Often educating teenage children is the reason.  Or simply the draw of one’s homeland.  There are beautiful places in the U.K. and in my own country, and there is nothing to compare to that light as the sky changes, as the seasons change.
I don’t particularly like hot weather, so continuous sun beating down out of a vehement blue sky doesn’t do it for me.  It might be O.K. if you are on holidays or have nothing to do. 

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Patricia

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Posted: 13 February 2012 07:47 PM  
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Hi Patricia,

Dont think you are far wrong about the heat, 40 degree plus day after day can get abit much. As can 2 and 3 degrees, a nice happy medium would be good. I like Spain in October or November when most of the tourists have gone home and you are left with those who know what it is like to live there and those who are there just for a short break.

I agree fuel prices in Spain can be high but given my gas and electricity bill is almost £2000 per year in the UK, council tax well over £1500, water another £180, but in Spain there are options of solar panels to give a good rate on hot water and electricity, yes you can get those in the UK but the return is not the same.

I think you are right about having a place to move back to. We are now seeing more and more clients who are looking to rent having moved to Spain and left their home in the UK rented, just in case they do not like it, at least then they can move back and still be on the property ladder and be able to say “well we tried it”

Dave

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Posted: 13 February 2012 10:25 PM  
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Indeed Damatt.  That is what sensible people did.  No burning bridges.  They held on to a place back home, just in case.  But, you know, a raft of people came out to Spain to buy who did not own ANYTHING back in the U.K.!  They were already living rented in the U.K. or with family or whatever.  They then got the 120% mortgage at break-neck speed, so the upshot was that they had not only the rent to pay back home, (this being where they had their job, if they had a job), but also the mortgage re-payments in Spain.  What kind of thinking is that!
It was so obvious that many of these people had never seen a contract/deed in their lives, let alone one in another language.  They would stare at it as if it was a Dead Sea scroll, something esoteric and beyond anyone’s ken.  Most of them had no notion of what living on a residential development entailed, or in a large apartment building.  Everything was a dream in high technicolour, they were going to live the T.V. programme, the real deal, or so they thought.
It really was frightening.

I could fill several books.

All the best
Patricia

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