Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Old Glories

I started a newspaper here - 'The Entertainer' - in 1985. It built its way up to three editions and 40,000 copies weekly, plus a Spanish monthly edition ('Entertainer en Español') until, in 1999, I signed a ... (*removed by court order*)... well, it all ended in tears. At least, for me.
Anyway... checking through old web-editions of The Entertainer (I started the first web-edition of an English-language paper in Spain in 1998), I found this:

'Living in Spain, the Foreign residents' (November 1998)
While figures for the foreigners living in Spain are hopelessly inexact, it is known that 1,200,000 properties are registered in Spain as belonging to foreigners. This figure gives an approximation of 3.6 million foreigners, at three per property, with some relationship with the country. Surprisingly, the Spanish authorities themselves appear to be indifferent to the numbers, and even to the income derived from this group. If we accept the low figure of 600,000 English speaking residents on the Costa Blanca and in Andalucia, who each spend £1,000 per month - a not unlikely figure which includes a percentage of their house and car price, their taxes and purchases - their annual spending power would come to £7,200 million (1.5 billion Pesetas). All brought in as foreign exchange.The Spanish authorities would be well advised to consider this form of 'tourism' and to encourage its growth. For a foreigner, living in Spain is now far easier than in the past, particularly for EU citizens. 'Work permits' and 'residence permits' are now just a formality, since all Europeans have the right to live and work where they will inside the European Union. However, the majority of foreigners who live in Spain are, of course, retired. They have lived a full and fruitful life elsewhere and have decided to retire to what can only be described as the warmest, safest and most comfortable part of Europe - the Mediterranean coast of Spain and her islands. They live in or near the small towns dotted along the coast, away from the cities, and evince little interest in returning 'home' again. Those that do eventually move, move inland into the 'real Spain' - to the Andalucian hinterland or elsewhere. The Mediterranean coast of Spain could be likened to southern Florida twenty years ago - a place of opportunity, beauty and tranquillity (well, it's a lot prettier!). Many foreign-run businesses now operate along the coast and in the islands with everything from dentists and doctors to English food supermarkets, realtors, builders and, um, newspapers. There are theatre and choral groups, clubs, associations, golf, bowls, water sports... life need never be dull. Spain itself is a fascinating and beautiful country to get to know, and residents make keen travellers. Certain foreigners have already voted in local elections, and by May 1999 - the time of the next local vote - all European citizens resident in Spain, and possibly all non-Europeans as well, will be able to vote. This will give the foreign residents a greater say in how their community is maintained and developed, as well as better protection from the occasional town hall 'excess'. Communications in Spain have improved dramatically in the past few years, and there is now a coastal motorway that runs from the French border, down through Barcelona and Valencia, and along the Costa Blanca and Costa de Almeria. This motorway will soon be completed on down to the Costa del Sol and Gibraltar. A second motorway through Granada currently connects with Malaga and continues to 'the Rock'. The rail-system is adequate, but slow, with the exception of the high-speed AVE link between Madrid and Seville (and on to Cadiz). Air-links are good, with airports in every main city, plus Gibraltar, although it must be said that the Almeria airport is a 'horror'. Prices in Spain are average, with both housing and labour rather cheaper than elsewhere, and clothing, cars and gasoline rather higher. The weather, however, is better here than anywhere else, and that's the main thing.

Not bad - eleven years later I'd only make a few minor adjustments to the above.
It's still warm.

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