Brexit Crushes British Retirement Dreams in Spain
Like many other British citizens, Jonathan and Beverley Bignell started coming to Spain many years ago on vacation.
Then, they bought a vacation home and began spending more time in Spain than in Britain.
Finally, they decided to retire early and to live in Spain permanently,
because of Brexit they applied for Spanish residency.
"To retire early and then obviously the decision was made about the Brexit with the vote
and everyone was deciding what was going to happen and nobody knew
and we knew we didn't want to be in the UK anymore, because that was, we just knew,
that was a possibly the stupidest decision ever made by a country ever.
Now it is much more difficult for British citizens to come and live in EU member states.
But even for those who already had a second home here, there are troubles too.
"And if they drive it on a UK license, they really, it's illegal, yeah.
You can't drive a Spanish registered car on a UK license unless it's a higher car.
So all these little things will eventually trip people up, they either, you know,
if they've got a UK plated car, they'll probably get stopped
and then they'll say how long have you been here and all those sort of things
or they'll check the driving licenses. It's only fair."
These difficulties seem to be having an impact as fewer Britons come to Spain in the wake of Brexit.
Nicola is a British real estate agent in Sitges,
she is selling this vacation home because its British owner no longer wants to keep it.
"Actually changed when we first heard about Brexit.
They, um, a lot of brits stopped coming or that were thinking of buying decided not to
and everybody said we don't know what to do until they've sorted out Brexit.
Then, of course, we had a long three year trying to sort out Brexit which went on for four years,
so all those people that were going to buy didn't buy and a lot of people brits sold to go back because of Brexit."
If they do not comply with the new rules on residency,
British expatriates risk losing access to public health services they were once entitled to and must now pay for private coverage.
They also risk being left out of national vaccination campaigns.
New customs procedures also are making life more complicated for those Britons living in Spain
when it comes to everyday comforts.
A Taste of Home becomes more difficult as British food items are not arriving on time or at all.
We've got a lot of trouble getting things from the UK to here, we have one custom, one supplier in the UK.
We had four pallets full of things like easter eggs,
they got impounded by customs and we still haven't got them and that was from before Easter,
so things are very difficult to get through now.
About 300,000 British citizens are registered as permanent residents in Spain.
From now on, only Britons who are able to get a resident visa, for some a golden ticket will be allowed to enjoy retirement in Spain.