Expats leaving Spain cause first population fall since 1857

by Ray Clancy on April 30, 2013

Expats leaving Spain cause first population fall since 1857

Expats leaving Spain cause first population fall since 1857

As the unemployment rate has soared to 26% in Spain many expats are leaving at a time when the country’s population has fallen for the first time since records began in 1857. Figures from the National Statistics Institutes show that the number of residents fell by 206,000 to 47.1 million and this drop is entirely down to foreign residents leaving the country.

The biggest fall in registered foreign residents was among South Americans, especially Ecuadoreans and Colombians, the statistics agency said. It is a stark contrast to previous years when between 2000 and 2010 the immigrant population grew substantially from 924,000 to 5.7 million. This was fuelled by Spanish speaking expats from Ecuador, Colombia and Bolivia working in the construction industry. However, now the bottom has fallen out of the housing market they are returning to South America where there are more jobs.

‘There was extraordinary growth in immigrants from 2000 to 2009, which is reversing quickly due to the economic crisis. Spain is less attractive because there are no jobs,’ said Albert Esteve of the Barcelona Centre for Demographic Studies. There are also reports of many British expats leaving the country but many who want to do so are finding it hard to sell their properties because of the downturn. However, British expats from other parts of the world are buying more property back in the UK, especially London which is regarded as one of the best property investment markets at present.

Quote from ExpatForum.com : “Does anyone have any rough info on the average foreign population in Murica, Cartagena and Elche? I know the total size but just want to know foreign population as if I am going to live in Spain I would want it to be mostly spanish people rather than northern europeans. I guess this includes tourists that could be there too?”

International buyers have helped to push up prices in London and over the last few months national estate agency Strutt & Parker has seen a significant increase in the number of buyers from Hong Kong registering their interest in the Notting Hill market. Applicant records show that these buyers are generally expats who are eager to buy into the area. The majority of those registered are families that seem to be investing for the future and therefore looking for substantial family homes that they will rent out for a few years before returning to London.

‘There have been a lot of conversations about how high the taxes are in Hong Kong so the London property market is seemingly becoming more and more appealing,’ said Miles Meacock, head of Strutt & Parker Notting Hill. ‘With London property prices still increasing year on year and the rental demand for family homes still incredibly high it would appear that they are seizing the moment to buy in to this safe haven and to lay some foundations for future investments,’ he added.

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