News & Insights

Number of British expats in Spain has doubled over the past decade

Possibly the most significant finding revealed that there were 296,600 British citizens resident in Spain for 12 months or more in 2016, while the average number of Spaniards choosing to be resident in the UK over 2013 to 2015 was only 116,000.

The report’s data showed rapid growth in the number of expat pensioners. There are now 121,000 Britons in Spain who are over 65 – more than double the number from ten years ago –
and now making up 40% of the expatriate community.

The study found that 48 per cent of the British expats in Spain are retired. However, the ONS points out that this is not necessarily down to an increasing number of people choosing Spain as their retirement destination (the number of older people moving to Spain has remained consistent since 2008), but rather the result of the existing population ageing.

Only 22 per cent of the British expats in Spain are employed, while 11 per cent are unemployed, and the remaining 19 per cent is made up of those who are either too young to work, students, or those who are economically inactive (such as a parent who has to stay at home and look after their children).

This is in contrast to the Spanish community in Britain, as the majority (59 per cent) are in employment and only five per cent are out of work. Spanish expats in Britain are also a lot younger overall, with approximately half of the 116,000 citizens aged 20-39.

Also interesting, but perhaps unsurprising, was the difference in both countries’ numbers for short-term visits. In 2016, there were 13 million visits of less than 28 days made by Britons to Spain (the vast majority of these were for holidays). Meanwhile, only 849,000 Spaniards chose the UK as their holiday destination. When comparing the traditional weather of both countries, this isn’t too shocking. And it will explain why the Spanish government is worried about how Brexit, which may potentially mean a lack of cheap flights alongside the need for visas, could discourage British tourists from visiting its shores, diminishing a sector that makes up a large part of Spain’s GDP.

It’s long been known that living on the Spanish coast is a popular choice for many expats. In fact, the expatriate community in Spain is thought to be the largest group of UK citizens living in another European country, and areas such as the Costa del Sol have a thriving expat population, but these official figures have helped give a solid idea of exactly how big this expat population is and the number of lives that could be affected by Brexit negotiations.

As we have already reported, British expats living in Spain have more than a few worries concerning their future, and the failure of the British government to so far provide them with a straight answer has done nothing but increase their anxiety further.

If you are one of the many British expats living on the Spanish coast, then Blacktower has many expat financial advisors in Spain who can assist with your financial management needs, whatever they may be. From helping you make your money more tax-efficient to providing you with the best ways of boosting your pension pot, a Blacktower financial adviser will help put you on the right track towards hopefully making your money go further.

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