If you are a British expat living in Costa del Sol and are anxious about the Brexit referendum to be held on June 23, which is only a few weeks away from now, we really cannot plan you for it. A number of British people are today looking to sell property in Costa del Sol, Spain because of fears of what might happen on that day. Many are worried that the great lifestyle that they are used to may not last forever.
Of the 5.5 million Brits who live abroad, over 1 million are in Spain. Spain is the most popular country for Britons looking to move abroad, followed by France and Ireland. Over 20 percent of the children in Malaga schools are British.
It is easy to see why Costa del Sol is so popular with Brits. Costa del Sol has a very relaxed and laid back lifestyle and a very friendly environment. The weather is as perfect as it gets – bright, sunny and Mediterranean. It has a vast coastline and beautiful, albeit crowded beaches. There are beautiful villas all around the city, with all possible modern amenities. The British community here is large and growing and they have made Costa del Sol their home away from home.
But there is a real fear about the Brexit referendum and what it might mean for the expats here. In an interview with Guardian, Natalie Mills, a 21-year old British expat who works in an Irish pub in Torremolinos and has been living here since 2000, said, “My mum and dad are a bit worried now the polls are moving to show [Brexit] could happen. I don’t know if they’ll kick us out. My brother was born here, so he has a right to stay, but I don’t know if I would. I haven’t got a resident’s permit yet, but I’m applying for one now. But all the bars here really rely on British people coming here – so if it was harder for them to come, that’s a whole part of the economy that’s going to crash.”
Audrey is an 80-year old woman who has been living in Spain for over 37 years. She spoke about her anxieties about the referendum, and in particular, she was worried about what would happen to her pension. She was worried about this report released by the UK Cabinet Office which warned expats about what to expect if a Britain was to actually leave the EU.
The report warned about what the referendum could put at risk, “a range of specific rights to live, to work and to access pensions, healthcare and public services that are only guaranteed because of EU law. UK citizens resident abroad, among them those who have retired to Spain, would not be able to assume that these rights will be guaranteed.”
What about the consequences for real estate in Costa del Sol? Lisa Richards is a 46-year old British expat who works for a Spanish real estate firm. She says that she is deeply worried about her job and is worried about what a Brexit might mean for the property market in Costa del Sol.
Lisa explains, “A lot of the property here is sold to Brits: they’re a big market. It’s easy to buy at the moment, and if the EU regulations no longer applied then it would definitely make the process of buying more complicated. I think if we come out of Europe, Brits won’t buy any more. There will be extra taxes. I’ve lived here for seven years, and I have had to work really, really hard to get a good job. You start at eight and you work until eight, but a few years ago I tried to move back to Wales and I was told by the council I might as well get myself a cardboard box to live in and there was no work.”
There are certainly a lot of anxious people in Costa del Sol who are very much concerned and are expected to follow the events of June 23 very closely.