Lots of sunshine, good healthy food, sea, beaches, cheaper cigarettes and booze; you dont even have to learn Spanish if you limit yourself to doing business with expatriates.
Not a bad proposition indeed, offering some very tempting prospects. So what is the catch?
One of the primary factors to consider is the cost of living. The old Spain, when you could live on a few pesetas, has gone and gone forever. The cost of clothes is higher than in UK, supermarkets are at par if not more expensive than back home, rents are undergoing reductions because of the recession but are not that cheap, and what is more important is that if you need to rely on an income from the UK, the conversion rate no longer offers any advantages.
Unless you have capital to live on or an income from home, then it is essential to work. The new British government is certainly intending to be even harder on cheats that depend on social services to provide the additional income that so many have managed to wangle.
As far as work is concerned, there are two options available; you can work for a local company or you can have your own business. Either way, you must remember that the size of the expatriates market is somewhat depleted. Many have been forced to leave Spain because of the higher financial demands and because of the excessive competition between small businesses all aiming at the same market, which is the expatriates market.
Unless you are lucky enough to find a job in Gibraltar, which is not that easy, there are then two other basic factors to consider. In the first place you need to be fluent in Spanish and in the second place you need to remember that the average basic wage in Spain is considerably lower than what we know.
Forgive me if I appear to be discouraging you from living in Spain, yet that is not my intention. I just want you to be aware of some facts that need to be taken into serious consideration in order to ensure a long term stay. We need more people to move to the Costa; we need to sell and rent all those empty properties. We need to increase the size of the market but lets do it right and for the right reasons. We have had enough of the piss artists that live on cheap booze and cigarettes; they contribute absolutely nothing to securing a future for anyone let alone themselves.
Although the Costa is essentially dependent on tourism, be it seasonal or residential (permanent), it is relevant to note that while industry is almost non-existent, the level of unemployment is very high indeed. So rather than competing in services in a very small market, why not consider some other aspects of commerce like manufacturing or even importing and distributing to other parts of the world. This would certainly offer much better prospects than competing with innumerable estate agents, bars, publications, advertising agencies and many other similar who act like vultures round the few remaining bones of the expatriates market.
Mind you, there is another option and you might have the security of a business or employment back home and decide to commute between work and your family on the Costa. That is certainly an appealing prospect; there are enough flights available to make it very possible.
Whatever you do, you should not forget your childrens future and their education. It is good for the kids to go to the local Spanish village primary school; they will learn the language very quickly, learn the customs and even make friends. Having said this, I found it almost impossible to convince my children that living in Spain is not a permanent holiday with the result that as they grew older and started their teens, I became unhappy to notice that the standard of school education was a disappointment and that the friends, who had no other ambition than to become bricklayers like their fathers, were not a good influence on my kids. This resulted in my having to look at private education here on the Costa or sending the children back to the UK for further education.
Spain is now part of the EEC, the peseta has gone and so have the days of Freddie Laker. One thing that Southern Spain will always retain is the weather and the Mediterranean which make it the Beach of Europe.
The political stability and proximity to all European countries make it a much better proposition than so many other places in the world.
We do need more expatriates to come and live here, but it is important they should come for the right reasons, with the right frame of mind and be prepared to adjust to make Southern Spain an enviable address.