Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Britons Setting Up Home & Business in Spain

SPAIN was once viewed only as a summer holiday destination for those seeking sun, sand and sangria. But, increasingly, Britons are setting up home there, often starting businesses.

Stephen Womack finds out what it takes to become a successful expatriate, whether in Spain, or further afield in Cyprus or the United States.

THROW a beach towel in the air along the seafront at Javea on Spain's Costa Blanca and the chances are it will land on an estate agent's office. More than 20 agencies pack the streets by the beach in this town of 20,000 people halfway between Valencia and Alicante.
And the agencies are thriving, mainly because of the thousands of Britons who are eagerly buying homes along the coast each year. They are joining an estimated million from the UK living in Spain.

More than a third of the population of Javea are British. They have their own network of shops, bars and restaurants. And over the past four years, they have been buying homes as quickly as they are built.

Travel 300 miles south-west and the forest of cranes along the Costa del Sol points to a similar story. The capacity of Malaga airport is being doubled to cope with 24 million passengers a year as people flock to the region. The scale of growth is staggering. More homes were built in Spain last year than in France, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands combined, says the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.
And properties are no longer being sold only to retired Britons who fancy playing golf in the sun. Increasingly, younger people are moving abroad for work. Freedom of travel and residency within the EU means that many Britons living in Spain do not figure in official statistics. Many inhabit a twilight zone where they might spend most of the year abroad, but are still registered in the UK for tax and social security.

David Franks is in an excellent position to gauge the true number of Britons in Spain. He is founder and director of the European Supplies Group, which has been importing food from Britain to Spain for more than a decade.
While some expatriates might not register at town halls, they still want to buy Marmite, PG Tips, Ribena and familiar breakfast cereals. David says: 'Based on what we are selling, we estimate there are now more than onem Britons living in Spain on a permanent or semi-permanent basis.' Such has been the growth that the company has moved to a new warehouse near Javea and has listed on the Aim junior stock market through parent group Lennox Holdings.
David has seen a change in the type of person moving overseas. He says: 'We have seen a demand for bigger packets - for 80 teabags not 40, for example,' he says. 'That suggests we're selling to more families.' Neil Armitage is marketing director for insurer Exeter Friendly Society, which specialises in medical insurance for British expatriates.
'More younger people are making the move,' he says. 'Three years ago, the average age of our new customers was over 50. But that has come down to 42. And we have more than doubled the number of children we're insuring over the same period.'

Elena Ryan of the Norwich & Peterborough Building Society on the Costa Blanca agrees. 'More families and younger people are coming to live in Spain,' she says.
'Some come to work. Others take advantage of cheap flights and commute back to the UK. I know of one psychiatrist who moved out here with his family, but flies back to London on a Monday to work.'
There are now 14 English-language schools on the Costa Blanca, with a high demand for places. A draw for younger Britons to move to Spain is parents who are already living there. One woman who retired to Javea nine years ago says: 'My daughter and son-in-law are moving here to set up a business next summer. Their children are taking Spanish lessons, but don't use my name because they haven't yet told their UK bosses they're quitting.'

Spain leads a British exodus that shows no sign of fading. More than 207,000 Britons emigrated last year, a record number leaving for a new life. Also revealing is net migration - the difference between numbers leaving the UK and those returning. Australia, Spain and America are the most popular destinations, while there has been a net inflow of British citizens from Germany and South Africa.

HELP FROM HOME AS YOU MOVE ABROAD

Barclays International, 0845 601 5910 or barclays.co.uk/europe
Lloyds TSB Own Overseas, 020 7374 6900 or lloydstsb.com
Norwich & Peterborough Gibraltar, 00 350 45050 or norwichandpeterborough.co.uk
Leeds Building Society Gibraltar, 00 350 50602 or leedsbuildingsociety.co.uk
Nationwide International, 01624 696000 or nationwideinternational.com
Britannia International, 01624 681100 or britanniainternational.com
Currencies Direct, 020 7813 0332 or currenciesdirect.com
Foreign Currency Direct, 0800 328 5884 or currencies.co.uk
Moneycorp, 020 7589 3000 or moneycorp.com
Worldwide Currencies, 020 8464 5888 or worldwidecurrencies.com
Axa-PPP, Healthcare, 01892 612080 or axappphealthcare.co.uk
Bupa International, 01273 208181 or bupa-intl.com
Exeter Friendly Society, 0808 055 6575 or exeterfriendly.co.uk

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11:14 PM  

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