Thursday, October 07, 2010

From dream to reality

In the boom years northern Europeans, particularly British, flocked to places like San Miguel de Salinas to retire. Many came because of the climate and enjoyed a better standard of living when they were getting 1.5 Euros to the pound.

The constructors, eager to cash in, built large urbanisations where they could live. Then the boom came to an end and the economic crisis arrived. The dream turned sour when the Euro weakened leaving the new residents cash strapped.

Now, according to a survey conducted by the Universidad de Alicante, the people feel isolated and trapped.

Because of the way town halls work, many were left without water and electricity as they waited for builders to finish urbanisations. Those that wanted to return to Britain found that it was impossible to sell their houses even if they had the necessary paperwork to grant them utility supplies. Living on large, mainly British, urbanisations meant that they failed to integrate with the local community and thus get the best out of their lives in a new country.

Pam and I were lucky. Our house has a certificate and so we have mains water and electricity and although most of the residents on our estate are British, we are close enough to the town to feel part of it. Parts of the estate are not as smart as we expected them to be but where we are suits us fine. We have suffered from the poor exchange rate but are still managing to hold our heads above water. In other words, our life in Spain is not quite as we thought it to be - not sour but not quite as sweet as we expected.

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