According to the BBC, in 2006 the number of Britons "opting to live abroad" was 5.5 million. Australia and Spain were the two most popular destinations, with Spain seeing the arrival of 650,000 foreign migrants, 47,000 of which were Brits. Today however the situation could not be more different, and whilst no official statistics have been published, many Brits have headed back home, their dream life in the sun over.
Spending much of my time living in Baza, an agricultural town in the Granada province of Spain, I have noticed that there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of Britons living in the area. Pensioners can still be found here, but many are moaning bitterly as their already tight budget has been slashed by as much as 40 percent due to the euro's abrupt plummet against the pound.
There is however another group of British expats still resident in this impoverished Spanish market town - the ones whose determination and love of the lifestyle has destined their "survival."
One such "survivor" is Tina Bradley, a 46-year-old owner of a real estate company who moved to Spain from the U.K. in 2000. Tina admits that times are hard for everyone in this part of Spain, but that the key to success out here is "strength of mind." In the heyday of the Spanish property boom during the first half of the 2000s, Tina's property company was thriving, with houses selling each week as the expats arriving in Spain outnumbered the amount of properties for sale. Today the story could not be more different, as the list of sellers she has on her books stretches depressingly longer than that of the buyers.
"The property market has died a death in Spain and it is a lot worse than it was this time last year. Things are going to get worse before they get better," Tina warns.
I regularly visit the local rastro - car boot sale - which is held each Sunday morning in Baza and, for many of my British counterparts in the area, the rastro is their sole income. One such person is Ian Howarth, a sprightly chap in his 40s, who sells garden ornaments hand-crafted by his wife. Ian moved to Spain seven years ago, seeking a more tranquil, healthier lifestyle away from the rat race.
|Ian Howarth a regular seller at the Baza rastro [By Gabrielle Pickard/China.org.cn]|