‘Brexit’ has shaken people up, for sure. It’s understandable when you are living in or considering moving to another country; you want your foundations to be solid, and political changes have a funny way of uprooting personal security, whether that be of the emotional or material kind.
British expats living in Spain may feel a little uncertain right now about what the future holds for them, but the outlook may not be at all bleak, in reality.
It’s true that British expats were very comfortable here thanks to the notion that as EU citizens, they would not be uprooted from the country unless they did something unlawful. Enjoying the Spanish lifestyle has always been simple, and something that we perhaps take for granted, but although the Brits in Spain feel that they’ve been hit by a wave of uncertainty, there really is no need to panic, or to give up on the idea of that dream home on the Costa del Sol. It does seem that the fortunate conditions we took for granted may have to change in some way, but quite probably not to the extent that we have feared.
More leniency than expected has been displayed already
Only a short time has passed since the Brexit vote was passed, and already the instant negative assumptions made by many about the impact of this decision on British expats have been shown to be unfounded. The EU has already extended a lot more leniency toward expats in Spain than was previously expected. Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy reassured British expats that major changes were not an inevitability and most certainly not for the next two years at least; during this time employment and electoral rights, pensions, property investment rights and everything else of importance to expats would remain unchallenged.
The two-year period came about thanks to Article 50, which was devised in order to mitigate inevitable nervousness among expats of all countries involved. It stipulates that there must be a two-year minimum period in order that EU member states may relinquish their agreements. This does not mean, of course, that they will do so, or indeed that no new (perhaps even more beneficial) agreements may be drafted in place of the old.
It is in Spain and England’s best interests to remain friends
Whatever the case, it is abundantly clear that British expats in Spain have no reason to fear that they will be asked to leave or meet unreasonable requirements in order to stay, or move over and settle in Spain. Nobody is going to be asked to leave; perhaps there will be more bureaucracy around the issue – but that is something all European (and global) citizens have become accustomed to anyway; it can feel like a nuisance but is in no means a reason not to invest in the dream lifestyle you had your heart settled on.
There are plenty of other signs that expat life on the Costa del Sol will remain as blissful as ever. As the Prime Minister himself stated, Spain and the UK have mutually lucrative agreements. He asserted that it was not in the best interests of either Spain or the UK to make it difficult for expats to settle here, given that they (and tourists) contribute so much to the economy, and that there are so many Spaniards settling in the UK under similar conditions. Currently there are as many Spaniards settled in the UK as there are British settled in Spain (the figures are in the thousands).
Of course we cannot categorically state that everything will remain the same, but the Prime Minister has assured us that a sensible arrangement can be made that will benefit both countries’ expats. Making life difficult for citizens of either country would be very damaging to the economies of both, and Spain knows that biting the hand that has fed it (in terms of touristic and economic profits, as well as promotion and creative energy input from foreigners settling in the country) would not be prudent.
Another important point is that as just over 17 million UK citizens (equating to 48% of the final Brexit vote) wanted to remain in the EU, it would clearly be unfair and unwise to ignore the requirements of such a large percentage of the population.
Spain have positively modified – and been open about – their intentions for Brits
Part of the reason that Brits in Spain (and those wanting to move here) panicked initially – and justifiably so – was Spain’s offended reaction to the Brexit vote. Angela Merkel (the German chancellor) was reported to have declared that the EU and UK would stay “close partners with close economic ties”, and also that the EU have no reason at all to be “nasty in the negotiations” with the UK.
It seems that Spain’s original reaction has already been replaced with a drastically modified attitude, which can only be a positive for Brits wishing to settle in Spain. It could even mean that over the long term, the result is even more positive than it started out.
Paradise Marbella Realty always keeps a finger on the pulse so that we are able to provide the best advice and services to our customers. Feel free to talk to us about how we can help you to create your ideal life on the Costa del Sol.