Whilst the ‘party’ may be over in some parts of Spain with dipping house prices, a rise in the cost of living and an unfavourable exchange rate forcing many expat Brits to return to the UK, in the Balearics the British population is growing, the latest data shows.
According to latest figures from the National Statistics Institute, the number of British residents in the Balearics has risen in the past year bringing the official total to 23,773 people.
The average age of a British expat in the region is now 46.6 years old. But the biggest expat group is still the Germans with a total population of 36,727 and an average age of 48.
As the total number of Balearic residents is 1,118,654, expats now make up 21.6% or one in five, the highest in Spain.
Mallorca is one Balearic island which has particularly benefitted from the uplift in interest, with its Palma International airport handling nearly 23 million passengers in 2011, many of whom were attracted by the amenities including blue flag beaches, golf courses and the Serra de Tramuntana mountain range which became a World Heritage site in 2011.
Stephen Dight, managing director of Mallorca and Ibiza for Sotheby’s International Realty, believes that the region is attractive to expats as it is a more aspirational destination and with higher property prices and a lower supply of quality homes than mainland Spain, it is popular with wealthier people.
‘Fluctuations in exchange rates, lessening pension income or small percentage falls in property values are unlikely to affect British Balearic expats and be a tipping point to force an exodus. They are simply not living on tight budgets,’ he explained.
‘Of course the Germans have no exchange rate to be concerned with and their home nation has been less blighted by recession so their love affair with the Balearics continues to blossom,’ he added.
Mallorca is the largest in the Balearic archipelago at 3,640 square kilometres and is known for its pretty inland villages, beautiful beaches and marinas and fertile agricultural plains, It has 26 golf courses, an impressive capital city and imposing mountain ranges including the 90 kilometre long Serra de Tramuntana that in 2011 earned itself a place on the World Heritage List.
But elsewhere in Spain expats are not faring as well, Spain is one of the most vulnerable economies within the eurozone and is under huge pressure to reduce its government debt and there have been a series of severe austerity measures introduced. It has an unemployment rate of almost 25%.
While this may not directly affect expats, many of them are retired with a dwindling income due to exchange rates and those that want to sell up and leave are finding it difficult to sell their properties as the housing market has collapsed.
Perhaps the mood can be summed up by the fact that the Primark store in Alicante which opened five weeks ago, received 21,000 job applications for the 190 available positions and the recently opened Cordoba store receiving 9,000 applications for 166 vacancies.