Sunday, March 23, 2014

The British takeover

The Orihuela coast boasts having the largest number of foreign residents in the whole of Spain and most of them are British. The register shows there are 18,834 Brits in Orihuela, 16,645 in Mijas, 13,172 in Torrevieja, 9,083 in Rojales, 8,858 in Javea and 6,364 in San Fulgencio. On the last count there were just 226 in Bigastro, a number that may have fallen since the census was last taken.

When construction began on the coast in the 80s, the houses built were mostly very expensive beachside properties but soon developers saw the potential for lower cost homes to attract the British visitors who wanted to live there. Of the estimated 45,000 who now live on the coast, less than 4,000 are Spaniards.

Since the area lacks a cultural base, the residents introduced their own and have organised events based on familiar events like St Patrick's Day. They have also formed organisations to support charities such as fighting cancer and animal welfare. Of course, many of the shops and bars that you find on the coast are either British owned or are staffed by English speaking Spaniards.

Although there are lessons in Spanish organised for the foreigners who live on the coast, many find it difficult to practice Castilian because when they try the responses they get are in English. That is certainly not a problem that they would find here in Bigastro!

The main complaint that the Brits on the coast make is the lack of facilities provided for them. Quite rightly, they claim to provide a large proportion of the tax revenue for Orihuela but see little in return. They do have their own British councillor but he is just one voice amongst many.  

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