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A few days ago I was sent a link to one of the most hysterical articles about Spain and expats in Spain that I have seen for a long time.  Sadly, it was from one of the major UK tabloids and, equally sadly, seemed to give an impression totally at odds to what I had written a few days previously about life in Spain.

Of course, as anyone who keeps up with this Blog will know, I have been nothing if not a Cassandra when it comes to the Spanish economy and the Spanish property market.  For five years I have been banging on about how (and why) a crisis would occur, the consequences of that crisis and how long any recovery from it would take.

However, at the same time, I have never missed an opportunity to emphasise how good life in Spain can be – nor what benefits Spain has offered (and continues to offer) to either those people coming here to live permanently or just for their holidays.  For me to have done otherwise would have been pretty odd, frankly.

I say ‘pretty odd’ because my family have happily lived in Spain, permanently, for the past eight years.  Meanwhile, the vast majority of expats that I know would state the same thing, namely that they enjoy their life in Spain and that their move here has been a success on a range of different levels.

Of course, there are people who have found that their life in Spain has not worked for them.  Indeed, some have been ruined by their move here.  This has often been due to a poor property purchase (both in terms of location and inherent flaws in their property), unrealistic expectations or an inability to earn a viable income.

Certainly, Spain is not a paradise and there is no getting away from the fact that there are problems associated with living in Spain.  Equally, it is true to say that moving to Spain (see my book on the subject) must be done with exceptional care to make sure that, once here, life in Spain works for you.  Make a mistake and buy an illegal property, for example, and all your happy dreams will quickly shatter.


The same is true for any illusions about making a living in Spain easily – particularly during the current ferocious economic crisis.  As I have written in ‘The Secrets to Working and Making a Living in Spain’ you have to be cautious about the prospects for making a secure income.  It can be done but the days of ‘strolling’ into Spain and easily picking up well paid work have long gone.  That is not to say that you cannot make money here – but that you have to be pretty canny, well prepared, risk averse and have a viable ‘Plan B’.

In my experience there is a common denominator amongst the people I know who have moved to Spain permanently and who continue to enjoy life here.  This is that they are invariably people with realistic expectations and sound finances – who bought their properties in Spain with infinite care and attention to detail.

So, if you are planning to live in Spain then know what you are doing – well before you come here.  Plan carefully, have realistic expectations about what life in Spain will really be like and, for Heavens sake, buy any property very carefully – indeed, with far greater care than you would do in your own country.

One thing is for sure – Spain can provide a wonderful quality of life.  It does for many people and, if you exercise care, it will do for you.  So, do not take too much notice of hysterical gloom and doom articles.  Their stories may be true for some people but the silent (and contented) majority of expats here are likely to be looking on amazed at what is quoted…




Siempre ha atacado a muerte al turismo y, como no, al turismo residencial, pero son los que mas vienen, compran, y se quedan – si no los echamos con unos precios inasumibles, o con el “espectáculo” político que estamos proporcionando -.

They dreamt of a better life on the Costas. Now villa values have HALVED, pensions have crashed – and they can’t afford to come home. Now for the really bad news, it’s about to get even worse

Last updated at 5:45 PM on 21st February 2011
The Spanish government estimates there are 700,000 unsold new-build houses across the country. Here, the Mail reveals the heartbreak behind the headlines…

Seven years ago, Marian Henderson moved to the south of Spain with £1million in her pocket.

But when – or perhaps that should be if – she finally makes it back to Britain, she will be lucky to do so with one quarter of that sum.

She’s no spendthrift – the money she has lost has been on bricks and mortar.

Out of pocket: Seven years ago, Marian Henderson moved to the south of Spain with £1million in her pocket. She will be lucky to return with one quarter of that sumOut of pocket: Seven years ago, Marian Henderson moved to the south of Spain with £1million in her pocket. She will be lucky to return with one quarter of that sum

Her home, a beautiful four-bedroom country house surrounded by orange groves, a swimming pool and stables, was once valued at £725,000. Today, it is on the market for just under £270,000.

‘I have cut the price as much as I can,’ says Marian, 62, who put the property up for sale shortly before her husband John died in 2007.

‘But it doesn’t seem to have made any difference. I am desperate to leave Spain, to get out of here. But the market has totally collapsed, and until I can sell my house, I cannot afford to leave.

Stranded: Marian's problems were exacerbated by her lack of income and the falling pound against the euroStranded: Marian’s problems were exacerbated by her lack of income and the falling pound against the euro

‘It is terrible because while I am here, I can hardly afford to live. I am surviving on the basic state pension and barely have enough to eat, let alone go out – I can go three or four days without speaking to another person.

‘I am on anti-depressants and I tell my daughters that if I don’t sell, they won’t only be taking their dad’s urn home but mine as well.’

Marian’s is a desperately sad tale, but, unfortunately, it is not an unusual one.

Across Spain, the British expat dream is fast turning into a nightmare.

Having left these shores in the hope of finding a better life abroad, a legion of Brits have instead found themselves caught in the midst of an economic storm.

The properties in which they invested have fallen in value by as much as 50 per cent in the past four years.

This is down to massive over-supply. The Spanish government estimates there are 700,000 unsold new-build houses across the country.

Of these, 400,000 are on the coast, the vast majority in the south of Spain where many British people have bought properties.

Take into account the fact that there are the same number of older homes being advertised for sale, and it is little wonder that experts are predicting prices will fall by another 20 per cent on average over the next five years.

As the property bubble has burst, so the rest of the Spanish economy has suffered.

The banks are sitting on vast amounts of bad debt, while the construction industry has collapsed.

Reports recently showed that of 60,000 property sector companies, 23,600 have gone bust, with debts of more than £100 billion.

Selling to Brits was a licence to print money

As a result of this economic turmoil, Spain is now in the midst of its worst recession for 50 years.

A record  4.6 million Spanish workers, or one in five, are now unemployed. This figure is the highest in Europe.

And if that weren’t bad enough, many British expats, particularly pensioners, have been hit by the weakness of the pound against the euro. Where a £10,000-a-year pension would have been the equivalent of €16,500 nine years ago, today it is worth nearly €5,000 less.

Hardly surprising, then, that so many Britons are desperate to bail out and return home. Companies that specialise in exchanging large sums of money – such as the proceeds from a house sale – have seen a 50 per cent increase in transactions linked to repatriations.

More would doubtless follow – if only they could sell their homes.

‘If the house being sold is in a prime location and in a good condition, it will be sold for about half what it was worth three or four years ago,’ admits one estate agent operating on the Costa del Sol. ‘If it isn’t either of the above, and that applies to a lot of houses, then it won’t sell.’

During the ten-year building boom that ground to a halt in 2007, selling the British a place in the sun was a licence to print money.

All along the south coast, streets of white-washed houses, known as ‘white villages’, appeared – and were snapped up by eager British buyers.

Of all Spanish properties sold to foreigners, Brits were behind one in three of the purchases.

End of the dream: Seeing that the writing was on the wall, three years ago the Rob Dawson and his wife put their house on the market. The asking price was initially £235,000, but has gradually been reduced to its current one of £104,000

End of the dream: Seeing that the writing was on the wall, three years ago Rob Dawson and his wife put their house on the market. The asking price was initially £235,000, but has gradually been reduced to its current one of £104,000

Marian and husband John, a builder, were among them. In 2004 they sold their home in Navestock, Essex, for £875,000 and headed south, bringing with them another £125,000 in savings.

‘It was always John’s dream to live in Spain,’ says Marian, who has four children and nine grandchildren. ‘I was happy where I was, but I said to him that if he matched what we had in England – the house, the land and the stables – then I would come.’

And, in Finca Bonita, match it he pretty much did. The property is on the outskirts of the village of Coin, about a 30-minute drive inland from Marbella, and cost the couple £550,000.

After extensive and expensive renovations it has four bedrooms, three bathrooms, a pool and stabling.

Initially, life was as good as the couple had hoped it would be. ‘The weather is fantastic and we lived really well, going out for meals and for day trips — a night in was a rarity,’ says Marian.


The couple supported themselves with their savings and also from the income from a part-time lorry-driving job John took.

But when, in 2007, he was diagnosed with cancer, they decided they would move back to Britain, and so put the house on the market. It was valued at £725,000. But it didn’t sell, and later that same year John died.

Dealing with the bereavement would have been hard enough for Marian without the dawning realisation that selling the house was not going to be as easy as she had first thought.

‘As the recession hit, the viewings just dried up,’ she says. ‘I reduced the price more and more, but still I didn’t get any offers.’

Her problems were exacerbated by her lack of income and the falling pound against the euro.

‘All my savings have gone and I am relying on the British state pension,’ says Marian.

‘I cut the price more but got no offers’

‘I’ve looked for work but there just isn’t any. If you go for an interview and there are five Spanish people and one British person, they’ll have the five Spanish first. You can’t blame them, but that is just the way it is.

‘As for help from the government there is nothing. If I was in England I would get help with the council tax and pension credits, but because I am in Spain there is nothing. They don’t hand out anything for free here – it’s terribly depressing.’

Further along the coast and that sense of isolation and helplessness is shared by Rob Dawson.

In 2002 he and wife Anne sold their two-bedroom house in Canvey Island, Essex, for £113,000 and moved to Spain.

They used the money to buy a recently-built four-bed villa in four acres of land in the village of Barxeta, close to the Costa Blanca. A further £60,000 was spent doing up the property.

‘I’m a ceramic tiler and the idea was that I would carry on working in Spain,’ says Rob, 51.

‘Just about every surface in Spain is tiled so I thought I would be made.’

For the first four years there was plenty of work — but then the credit crunch struck and the construction industry ground to a halt. As a result, for the past two years Rob has barely worked at all.

‘I’ve taken my CV to factories and other businesses but there are just no jobs,’ he says. ‘The only thing I have been offered is some part-time work picking oranges for £17 a day.’

Seeing that the writing was on the wall, three years ago the couple put their house on the market. The asking price was initially set at £235,000, but has gradually been reduced to its current one of £104,000.

 Costa fortune: British homeowners in Spain are desperate to leave since the collapse in the property market

But still with no buyers and with no money coming in, Rob’s wife Anne has been forced to travel back to Britain to find work as a live-in carer for the sick and elderly.

‘She is over there at the moment and will be for two months,’ he says. ‘We have to pay about £300 a month for the mortgage and then there are living expenses and things like the car insurance and the MoT to cover. She works to raise the money and then comes home. It’s hard, but what else can we do?

‘On Valentine’s Day we had to speak on the phone, and we’ve had birthdays and Christmases apart. Life at the moment isn’t exactly the dream,’ adds Rob.

‘I live on £85 a month and spend my time walking the dogs and doing the cleaning. I’d leave the house if I could but we’ve been burgled twice, so I’m stuck.’

Of course, one’s man’s pain is another’s pleasure. Rock-bottom prices represent an opportunity for investors with cash to spend. The local English-language paper has pages of knock-down properties.

‘Bargain: new villa,’ reads one. ‘Four bedrooms, four bathrooms, 350 sq m. Reduced from €1.45m to €720,000.’

Another: ‘Steal this beautiful south-west facing family villa. Stunning sea views, large garden and pool, four bedrooms, three bathrooms. Was €1.2m now €620,000.’

And a third: ‘Luxury two-bed/bath penthouse apartment with use of golf, gym, tennis and spa. Reduced by €150,000 to €169,000.’

According to Nikki Powles, 44, an estate agent whose company has been selling properties in the province of Andalucia to the British for the past 11 years, canny buyers are beginning to return to the market.

‘It is a good time if you have got the cash to buy,’ she says. ‘We are seeing Germans, Dutch and others from Northern Europe, plus a few British. They want a bargain of 50 per cent or more — all the houses I am selling are half price.’

The difficulty is that with the over-supply, only the best properties are selling. Those in poor locations or with even the slightest question mark over their legality are being ignored, however hefty the discounts.

The problem of properties built without the proper permission is thought to blight as many as 100,000 on the Spanish coast, some of which have already been demolished.

‘If the property has even a hint of a difficulty about it, even if it could be sorted out quite easily, the lawyers are steering prospective buyers away from them,’ says Nikki.

Her insight into the property  market comes from both professional and personal experience.

‘People should sit tight for at least two years’

Nikki’s 66-year-old mother Lesley and grandmother Barbara, 91, moved to the south of Spain from Hampshire six years ago, buying three properties between them — one each to live in and one as an investment.

With her grandmother’s increasing age, the plan had been to sell all of them and invest in an apartment suitable for the pair to live in together.

But two years since they went on the market, none has sold — despite heavy discounts (one apartment has been reduced from £235,000 to £126,000).

‘I never thought the market would drop in the way that it has,’ says Nikki. ‘I would say to people who find themselves in this situation that they are going to have to sit tight. It is the only thing they can do. I reckon that in maybe two years’ time things will start to even out.

‘It is not easy. My mother is very frustrated here. There is no longer any community spirit in the village.

‘We used to go out to the bar and the restaurants to meet people and to have a coffee and a meal. But now, no one can afford to do that — neither the Spanish nor the British. People just stay in.’

Of course, some will argue that those who are suffering today are doing so because they chased a dream — and in doing so were blind to the magnitude of the risks they were taking.

The truth is that the credit crunch and the depth of the recession took pretty much everyone by surprise, not just in Spain but across the world.

But for those stuck, often alone and a long way from home with diminishing wealth and often failing health, that will come as little consolation.




Debo reconocer que estoy de acuerdo con las críticas de endeblez del guión – “Muchos dirán que lo importante en una película de animación son los dibujos, y no les faltará razón. Otros dirán que lo esencial en un musical son las canciones, y tampoco les faltará fundamento. Pero, ¿y la historia?” (El País). Dibujo y música  deben confluir en un guión original, en una estructura dramática coherente, en unos protagonistas atractivos y en unos diálogos brillantes, que si están presentes en otras películas de Trueba, desde Belle Epoque hasta El baile de la victoria.  Pero, en todo caso, Chico y Rita es el primer musical de animación que se hace en  España, con toda dignidad, y premiado con un merecido Goya, sea bienvenido, aunque sea, como dice El País, “un temazo sin letra”.

Además, Chico y Rita es… Bebo Valdés:

Y también es… Tito Puente:

Y también es … Estrella Morente:

Y también es… Dizzy Gillespie:

Y también es… Chano Pozo:

Y … Thelonius Monk:

Y …Bud Powell:

Y… Nat King Cole:

de Manuel Gandarias Carmona Publicado en Nube



Lo confirmo, es muy conveniente dar, como mínimo, uno cada día. Abrazos (gratis).

de Manuel Gandarias Carmona Publicado en Nube



El artículo de hoy en El Confidncial redunda en los argumentos de la entrada “Empieza mal” del 22 de febrero. Convendría efectivamente que, tras el revuelo organizado por las ausencias, los organizadores de la iniciativa no olvidaran su primer y casi único objetivo: poner en valor la marca España como cuna de grandes empresas y empresarios.

¿Quién y por qué ha desenchufado a Endesa del gran lobby patrio?

Agustín Marco – 26/02/2011

La semana que ahora acaba comenzó por todo lo alto, con la puesta de largo de lo que se ha dado en llamar llamado “Consejo Empresarial para la Competitividad”. Un grupo de presión con excelentes intenciones que, hartos de la incongruencia e incompetencia de nuestros políticos, ha decidido coger el toro por los cuernos. Un arrebato de independencia que llega con cierto retraso -tres años después de que estallara la crisis y con cinco millones de personas sin trabajo- y con cierto toque oportunista, a sabiendas de que al Gobierno actual le quedan dos telediarios y la carta de ajuste.

La presentación fue un ejercicio de perfecto marketing a la americana. Se celebró en el gran auditorio de la sede de Telefónica, con panel gigantesco de pared a pared, con logo del invento incluido, y foto oficial al estilo reunión semestral de la Comisión Europea o anual del Fondo Monetario Internacional. Una imagen medida en todos los detalles, con César Alierta en el centro, como anfitrión, arropado a derecha por Emilio Botín, Isidoro Álvarez, Antonio Brufau y Florentino Pérez, y a izquierda por Isidro Fainé, Francisco González e Ignacio Sánchez Galán.  Empresarios todos que han hecho sus deberes, que se han internacionalizado en la mayoría de los casos y que han creado multinacionales que no se merecen el trato de unos inversores decididos a poner en la diana cualquier cosa que huela a España, ello a cuenta de la ineptitud de nuestros gobernantes.

Sin embargo, como destapó este medio el martes, la iniciativa ha arrancado con polémica, con un muy mal sabor de boca y con un enfado monumental por el llamado “derecho de admisión”. Parece ser que los FCC, OHL, Indra, Sacyr y otros tantos grupos no cotizados de mucho peso –Caja Madrid, Bergé, etc.- no cumplen los requisitos para formar parte de tan selecto club que, como recordó Alierta, debe ser pequeño -17 compañías ni más ni menos- si quiere ser eficiente.

Entre los nombres señalados en rojo destaca el de Endesa, una de las diez mayores corporaciones de España, con sede social en Madrid, 11.500 empleados sobre la piel de toro y un beneficio de más de 4.100 millones de euros, que pasa por las horcas caudinas del Fisco español. El argumento utilizado para dejar fuera a la eléctrica es que su máximo accionista es la empresa pública italiana Enel, grupo, a juicio de los responsables del lobby, poco o nada interesado en la defensa de los intereses patrios.

El argumento utilizado para dejar fuera a la eléctrica es que su máximo accionista es la empresa pública italiana Enel, grupo, a juicio de los responsables del lobby, poco o nada interesado en la defensa de los intereses patrios

Pero la pregunta es ¿quién tiene la capacidad para dejar fuera a un mastodonte como Endesa y a su presidente, Borja Prado, un hombre de negocios de potente apellido, que en los dos últimos años ha emergido como uno de los ejecutivos con más influencia en España y alrededores?  Además de su sillón en Endesa, Prado se ha convertido, desde su atalaya de Mediobanca, un banco italiano de formidables tentáculos, en el financiero de confianza de Florentino Pérez (ACS) y, en menor medida, de Luís del Rivero (Sacyr), y de La Caixa.

Parece que ha sido precisamente esa sobreexposición, acompañada de numerosas apariciones al lado de Zapatero y Sebastián, y, sobre todo, el hecho de haber arañado negocio a los “banqueros de toda la vida” hispanos, lo que ha molestado a quienes parten el bacalao en esta tierra de pan llevar. Así lo reconocen desde Endesa, que ya habían advertido a su presidente de que su sombra empezaba a ser muy alargada.

Una hipótesis que fuentes cercanas a la eléctrica italo/española engarzan con el hecho de que la familia Botín no le invitara a la tradicional fiesta de fin de año que suele celebrar en la elitista ciudad suiza de Gstaad y a la que Prado solía acudir junto a otros grandes apellidos, caso de March, Albertos, etc. Parece que la relación entre las partes se enfrió a cuenta de la fallida OPA sobre Abertis, una operación que pasó de los 12.000 millones –el 100% del capital- de importe a los 2.800 –el 25%-,  porque Banco Santander no estuvo dispuesto a poner sobre la mesa tanto crédito como le pedían. Un asunto normal en los tiempos de cerrojazo de los mercados que vivimos.

Otras fuentes apuntan a que la amistad con José Manuel Entrecanales, con el que se repartió el pastel de Endesa en plena guerra con Gas Natural y E.ON –miles de millones en beneficios y comisiones-, ya no es lo que era por culpa del agridulce final que conoció la relación entre el presidente de Acciona y los italianos de Enel. Unos u otros, o todos juntos, los únicos con capacidad de veto de ese selecto grupo de primeros espadas son el citado Botín, César Alierta, Francisco González, Isidro Fainé, Ignacio Galán y Antonio Brufau, al que estos días zumban los oídos a cuenta de la posible entrada de otro grupo italiano –ENI- en su capital. Convendría que, tras el revuelo organizado por las ausencias, los organizadores de la iniciativa no olvidaran su primer y casi único objetivo: poner en valor la marca España como cuna de grandes empresas y empresarios.