Page last updated at 06:09 GMT, Monday, 23 June 2008 07:09 UK

The Costa living hits Brits in Spain

Brits who have moved to Spain for a better lifestyle are being battered by the economic problems they would have faced in the UK - surging inflation and falling property prices.

And those on fixed UK incomes - such as pensions - have also seen the strong euro bite deep into money they bring into Europe.

We speak to some of those who have made a home on the Costa Blanca about their concerns about their financial situation and the impact on their lifestyle.

RON KERRY, 62, ORIGINALLY FROM WHITBY, N. YORKSHIRE

Ron Kerry

My wife Marlene and I moved to Spain five years ago after working in Saudi Arabia.

My RAF and British Aerospace pensions are paid in pounds in the UK.

Transferring the same amount of money into euros now gives us about 18% less than a few months ago.

Spain is no longer a cheap option for us. In real terms our bills - from electricity and water to the typical weekly supermarket shop - have risen considerably.

Until recently I played golf three times a week but I've decided to give that up for a while. It's partly for financial reasons. With the green fees and all other costs it was eating into too much of our income.

AUDREY AND ALLAN SINCLAIR, 65 & 70, ORIGINALLY FROM COUNTY DURHAM

Allan and Audrey Sinclair

We enjoy our life here - especially the wonderful weather and great social life.

We wouldn't say that we're struggling, but we really do notice a big difference.

At the moment, for every 1,000 GBP we transfer from the UK we are losing 200 euros (157).

Instead of eating out three times a week it's just once or twice. We have to start thinking whether we can really justify paying 50 to 70 euros for this meal out for the two of us.

When we do go out, we really notice how quiet the restaurants are.

I eat English here anyway. I don't like Spanish food and never will so expect to pay more if we go to the English butchers and buy the imported food.

But there's nothing you can do about it apart from be careful about what you spend

We've always said that we intend to end our days in England, but I'd worry about not being able to sell the house.

Brits are just not moving out here in the same numbers.


ASTRELLA NEWMAN, ORIGINALLY FROM ESSEX

The shop where Astrella works

I worked in a bank and my husband was in the Metropolitan Police.

His parents have a place here and we moved out for a change of lifestyle. But if I had known then what I know now I might have stayed.

It's a lovely place to live if you have got money but to make a living is very, very hard.

What we are earning here between us is what I was earning on my own working part time in the UK.

I have a full-time job in a clothes shop but lots of our friends are doing two or three part-time jobs.

We think about going back, but property prices in England are so high that we'd never be able to afford anything like what we used to have.

The property market here is struggling. We didn't buy an expensive place but we'd be struggling to make back what we paid. Our options have got narrower.

A lot of people are going to the bank with their house keys and saying "take it back, we're leaving" even if they are going to be in negative equity.


BRENDA CHUTER, "EARLY 50s", ORIGINALLY FROM CHESTERFIELD

Brenda Chuter

We moved to Spain after I was made redundant and thought it would be a good idea.

In some respects I'm regretting it. Making money is hard. I know I could go back to home and get a job as a secretary like I used to or some sort of office job.

To get office work here you need fluent Spanish. I have lessons and a teacher for one-to-one lessons but it's difficult to keep it all in my brain!

I've really noticed the rising cost of living. We have really cut back on all the fripperies, like lots of our friends have.

We use to eat out three to four times a week but now it's more like once a fortnight. We still tend to go out for a Sunday dinner because that is quite cheap.

I sell homemade English cakes and pastries at a car boot sale, mainly to British ex-pats - the sort of things they can't buy in the supermarket. It doesn't earn me a lot of money but enough to buy the groceries and a few bits and pieces.

The car boot sales provide a sense of community but the Spanish authorities closed down one of them, so we had to move.

Sometimes it feels that unless you are retired, the Spanish don't want you here. The people are lovely but the authorities can be difficult.


ROSALIND ALBON, 62, FROM ESSEX

Rosalind Albon

My husband Alan and I had been coming to Spain on holiday for years and thought we'd like to try moving here.

We opened an a la carte restaurant for a couple of years then retired.

When Alan passed away late last year I decided to move back to England,

We had an apartment house in the village of Rojales which we had put on the market more than a year ago for 270,000 euros. But now, even after I've brought the asking price down to 200,000 euros, there is little interest.

I'll be quite happy to sell it and might even come down a little bit more if I have to, but the main people who buy over here at Brits and at the moment nobody has the money.

I've come back to Spain to sort a few things out and I noticed how few euros I got for my pounds at the bureau de change.

Things cost more than they used to - but it's still a cheaper option than the UK. My council tax bill in Rojales was 90 euros (70) a year. In England my sister pays more than 1,000.





SEE ALSO
UK expats face Spanish troubles
14 May 08 |  Business
Spain: 'No fresh food'
10 Jun 08 |  Europe


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