3 out of 10 expats in Spain moved there looking for job.
The question “why do people move to Spain” is a very interesting one because literally millions of people have moved there over the last few decades. However, interestingly in our online poll the subject of moving to Spain attracted fewer votes than for example moving to Australia. This will surprise many people who still see Spain as one of the main attractions in the worldwide expat market. However, what really attracts people to Spain? A recent poll conducted by Expat Forum and sponsored by Barclays Wealth International found out that, up to date, employment (29.27%) is the main reason for expats moving to Spain, closely followed by other motives such as the standard of living (19.51%), weather (14.63%), retirement (12.20%) or…romance (12.20%).
Employment (29.27%) and Standard of living (19.51%) rank top for expats in Spain
Number one in the list of reasons to move to Spain appears to be employment, attracting over 28% of the vote. When you take into account the ongoing problems with the worldwide economy and the European economy particular it may well surprise people to learn that employment in Spain still seems to be “fairly easy”. Whether this interest in employment in Spain is because of European community regulations and internal trade is debatable but whatever the reason there is no doubt that job prospects are seen by many to be better than other areas of Europe and the wider world.
As in the rest of the Eurozone countries, Euro is the national currency, so if you are thinking to move to Spain chasing a career change, it would be quite useful for use to think of opening an euro account. It won’t just make your life easier, especially if you need to make payments back at your country of origin.
At this point in time, it is interesting to see that the Spanish government is under pressure to introduce significant austerity measures and indeed the debt rating agencies have suggested a possible downgrade of Spanish sovereign debt ratings. This will have a major impact upon the Spanish economy in the short to medium term and many expect Spain, together with the likes of Italy, to struggle. Is this still a valid long-term reason to move?
If you were to run a straw poll amongst many expats who had moved to Spain in the past you would likely have seen the standard of living as a popular reason for moving overseas. However, the standard of living in Spain is number two in our list attracting around 19% of the vote which puts employment and the standard of living well above any other reasons for moving to the country. A number of people seem to have misconceptions of Spain as a pure and simple tourist destination when in fact it has some of the major cities of Europe and an economy which is very much central to the European economy overall. As a consequence, the standard of living in Spain will be impacted on both positively and negatively by movement in the overall European economy. Countries such as the UK are not affected as much as those who have taken up the euro although there is no doubt there is some impact.
It is also worth remembering that the standard of living in Spain will vary from place to place depending upon your reasons for moving to the country. Are you looking to take up one of the more glamorous tourist destinations on the coast or are you looking at the hub of the Spanish economy in areas such as Madrid and Barcelona?
Sun for a golden retirement…
The weather (14.63%) is not a surprise with regards to reasons for moving to Spain and after attracting around 14% of the vote it is number three in our list. The weather in Spain has for decades been one of the major reasons why a number of UK citizens have moved to Spain and indeed this very often ties up with retirement. There is no doubt that the weather in some of the coastal areas of the country is far hotter with less frequent rainfall than many areas both within Europe and outside of Europe. As a consequence, it seems almost inevitable that the initial reason for looking at Spain, and perhaps other countries such as Portugal, may well be the weather.
However, it is debatable as to whether you should make the weather your main reason for moving to any country because as we have mentioned in some of our earlier articles you need to have some substance behind your new life. If employment prospects are bleak, your savings are low and your cost of living continues to rise then it is only a matter of time before you experience financial difficulties. While the weather would be a perfect reason for many people to move overseas in reality it is perhaps one of a group of reasons.
On other hand, the fact that retirement (12.20%) is only joint fourth in the list of reasons for moving to Spain is perhaps a sign of the times and perfectly illustrates the improvement in worldwide travel. Nobody ever suggested that Spain was one of the cheapest destinations with regards to retirement but for many people living in Europe it was a very simple hop skip and a jump to their new homeland. However, when you take into account the growing number of low cost travel companies now operating around the globe you can perhaps travel from Europe to South America as cheaply as you could have travelled from the UK to Spain in years gone by. Nevertheless, it is worthy to remember that a hassle-free retirement is a matter of good planning, so it is always recommendable to have your financial planning done in first place, hopefully as soon as you start even thinking of becoming a retiree!
Despite the fact that some people are now looking towards retirement in new up-and-coming countries, Spain will always have a place in the heart of many people. It is one of the major tourist destinations within Europe and indeed the weather on the coast has attracted hundreds of millions of people over the years. For some people the weather would make a perfect backdrop to any retirement and the fact that so many “ex-Brits” are living there already has obvious attractions for British expats.
Time for romance? Definitely for over the 12% of foreigners leaving in Spain
Despite the fact that many people believe romance is dead it seems time and time again that people are prepared to travel significant distances and uproot their lives for love. Perhaps, when you take into account the weather, the culture and the laid-back lifestyle in some areas of Spain, this is the perfect country to move to when looking to start a new relationship. However, there is no doubt that if you are looking to move to Spain purely and simply for romances (12.20%) then you are placing yourself in an almost impossible position should your new relationship breakdown. As we have mentioned on numerous occasions, it is inevitable that there will be difficulties with regards to finances and the cost of living unless you make provisions for your future. Moving ahead at full speed for love sounds great in principle but in reality is it sensible?
But if romance wasn’t sufficient attractive to drag you to the Iberian Peninsula, there are so many different areas of Spain to investigate and experience that it is no surprise to learn that travel the world (4.88%) is one reason why many people look towards this particular country. It has a history which is very volatile, very chequered but also very interesting, and in the eyes of many people is in fact a number of smaller countries within a larger one. Indeed, there is so much competition between the various areas of Spain that this has led to unwelcome friction in years gone by and even today.
Despite the fact that Spain is seen by many people as purely and simply a tourist destination for Sun, Sea and Sangria it has an awful lot more to offer. If you’re looking to travel the world then perhaps Spain is a destination to consider – one which may surprise you!
It is also interesting to see that despite the fact that crime was listed as potentially one of the major reasons why people look to move overseas Spain did not attract any votes in our online poll. Whether this is because there are other reasons to move to Spain or indeed the crime rate is perhaps not as good as you would expect is open to debate but when you bear in mind the historic nickname of some areas of Spain, i.e. the “Costa Del Sol”, this is perhaps ironic.
However, not everything is sun and merry down in Spain. Historically the cost of living in Spain, when set against the laid-back lifestyle and the tourist destinations on the coast, was very attractive. However, in reality we have seen a significant rise in the cost of living (2.44%) across Europe and Spain has not been insulated in any way from this phenomenon. So while historically many expats were attracted to Spain because of the relatively low cost of living this is not such a major reason today.
When you take into account the ongoing economic situation across the world, and across Europe in particular, it is difficult to see the relative cost of living move anywhere but higher in the short to medium term. The job markets across Spain are beginning to struggle, the government has been forced to introduce enormous austerity measures and there has been a backlash from the public sector workforce. Moving to any country at this moment in time because of the cost of living may well mask underlying problems such as those currently being experienced by Spain. As we mentioned before, Spain is intrinsically fragmented, not only geographically, but also culturally and money-wise speaking. There are many competences that have been transferred from central Government to the regional ones, so something as apparently easy as opening a bank account could dramatically varies from one city to another. As a handy help, it pays off to take a look at the banking guide in Spain compiled by Barclays Wealth International.
In the same vein, the taxation system in Spain has in years gone by being perhaps one of the more lax in the developed world. However, despite earning the nickname “Costa Del crime” the taxation reasons for moving to Spain have been greatly eroded in years gone by. Like every other European country the government of Spain is now at the beck and call of the European Union which is set to introduce yet more Europe wide taxes. As a central part of the European Union there is no doubt that the Spanish taxation system has been impacted over the years. Taxes were hence a main reason for the 2.44% of expats taking part in this poll to try their luck in Spain.
Spain has for so many people long been associated with the weather, taxes and crime. It is an area of the world which has in many ways depended upon the tourism industry of years gone by but has struggled of late due to the impact of low cost travel around the world. However, do not underestimate the attractions of Spain because many expats still believe there is potential for a good life in the country with employment, standard of living, the weather and romance very high on many agendas.