British expats leaving Spain “in droves” according to media

by Deborah Cater
British expats selling up in Spain

As reported in the British tabloid press, expats are selling up and leaving Spain in their thousands due to stricter regulations.

Speaking to an estate agent in Fuengirola, the Express reported many retired people are starting to sell their properties.

As a result of Brexit, UK citizens can only visit Spain without a visa for up to three months at a time. The same applies across the whole of the EU.

Pensioners used to winter here

Many British pensioners used to take advantage of the warm weather and lower cost of living, and spend the winter in Spain. Coastal areas such as the Costa del Sol, Costa Tropical and Costa Brava were particularly popular.

However, now they can only visit for a maximum of 90 days at a time, and 180 days per year. Many Brits also used to drive down to Spain, but with stricter regulations of foreign-plated cars, especially British, this is now more difficult.

Indeed, British cars driving in Spain and the EU now need to display ‘UK’ sticker on the bumper.

Read: New rules for country stickers on cars

Visa rules from 2022

In 2022, the EU is bringing in the ETIAS travel authorisation scheme. This is mandatory for all third countries such as The UK, US and Canada.

Visitors will still be able to stay in Spain and the Schengen Area for up to 90 days, but will need to hold a valid ETIAS visa before arriving. This is to ensure the Schengen borders remain secure.

Furthermore, visas will now be necessary for some British citizens in some cases. This affects anyone wishing to stay in Spain beyond the 90-day visa-free period or who wish to work in the country.

This does mean Brits could still enjoy the six month winter, but will need to apply for a visa beforehand.

Price of healthcare

Another reason for Britsish expats leaving is the cost of healthcare post-Brexit. With the UK no longer part of the EU, the previous reciprocal arrangement regarding healthcare is no longer valid.

Private healthcare is a requirement, and a costly addition to a long-term stay.

As a result, Spain is seeing many British ex-pats deserting the shores and giving up their sunshine dream retirement.

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