Monday, October 29, 2007

Growing concerns

The Province of Alicante has seen an increase in population of 20% in the last six years. Of the 293,290 new residents, 90% are foreigners. The growth has been highest in e.g. Torrevieja which has grown by 56% and Orihuela by 39%. Third age citizens account for the majority of these immigrants.

Alicante airport reports 4.5 million visitors (mainly British) each year.

So why do all these people choose Alicante?

Professor Tomás Mazón analyzed more than 1,000 surveys of retired European Union residents in twelve municipalities.

50.1% of the respondents said that the climate was the main reason they came to Alicante. The benefits to health of a sunny climate with mild winter temperatures was an incentive for 31,3%. The lower cost of the living in Spain and cheaper housing were reasons cited by 21% . Finally, 73.9% of the people surveyed said they already knew the province of Alicante because they had holidayed here.

The Europeans surveyed were moderately positive about their decision to emigrate. 66.3% considered that, in spite of the problems that have arisen in their daily lives, they continue enjoying a greater quality of life. Of the nationalities questioned, the Germans were the most critical with only 52.9% positive replies.

Most significant though; 57.7% were negative about city-planning developments that have taken place after their arrival. It isn't just the volume of construction or the negative effect upon the environment that concerned them; 62.6% said they felt overwhelmed by so much construction.

We can identify with most of that.

In our decision to move to Spain, weather was the most significant factor followed by the cost and quality of life. The health benefits were an important consideration along with the challenge of living in a new country. It does take time to adapt to the way of life and the bureaucracy. The biggest challenge continues to be the language but we are working on that.

When we first started considering the move house prices were still cheap. However, when we came to buy, the house we bought cost almost as much as the one we sold in England. Our utility bills are similar but the cost of food and the local taxes are much cheaper. Telephone line rental (including ADSL) and the Digital+ satellite television monthly costs are more expensive. Taking everything into consideration though, we can live in Spain for less than we did in England.

We are still very positive about the move and are glad that we made it but, like the people in the survey, we are concerned about the amount of construction which can feel overwhelming.

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