Brexit’s dominating the headlines in the UK, but, here in Spain, the government is planning laws to help British people living in Spain after 29th March – especially good news as it’s been declared the second best country to retire to. And if your move involves a four-legged friend, IKEA is launching a new range of pet-friendly furniture!
Spain wants to maintain expat rights post-Brexit
The Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez announced that his government passed a Royal Decree on 1st March which will “prepare for all eventualities of a messy Brexit”. The new law is only temporary, valid until 31st December 2020 but it will in effect guarantee rights already held by legal British residents in Spain after 29th March when the United Kingdom is due to leave Europe.
Residents will be required to apply for new resident status before the end of 2020 but it is expected to be “automatic” for those legally resident prior to Brexit.
Healthcare and social security are included, meaning that the S1 certificate which signifies free healthcare for British pensioners is also safeguarded. It all allows for a period when British driving licences can be exchanged for Spanish ones.
Find out what you need to know in case of a no-deal scenario in our guide, How to Live in Spain After Brexit
People who work and travel between Spain and Gibraltar will continue to be able to do so freely until there is a new agreement.
Mr. Sanchez said that Spain is not against a delay in Brexit, however, saying “although Spain will not oppose granting a possible extension, this must have an assured perspective of resolution.”
The only caveat is that the protected rights are based on a reciprocal law for Spanish citizens in the UK and that the Spanish parliament gives approval – this is expected as the new rules have cross party support.
For many regions of Spain, elections will be held on 26th May for local government and European MPs. British residents who have applied to go onto the electoral roll can vote for their mayor and MEP, the latter only if Brexit has not yet taken place.
There is though a General Election looming for 28th April. Only Spanish citizens can vote. The Prime Minister, Pedro Sanchez, called a snap election when his party failed to get their budget for 2019 passed in parliament.
The PSOE (Partido Socialista Obrero Español) gained power last year when it successfully won a vote of no confidence in the then Prime Minister, Mariano Rajoy. The problem for the PSOE is that it is a minority government, with just 84 seats out of 350. The government has been bolstered by smaller parties such as Podemos and two Catalan parties but their hold on power has been tenuous to say the least.
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When the Catalans refused to agree to the budget, the writing was on the wall and Mr. Sanchez was forced into calling a General Election. Falling over Easter, the opposition party leader, Pablo Casado, of Partido Popular has called it “disrespectful” as Easter is taken very seriously in Spain.
There are concerns amongst many that the far right will do well following a new party, Vox, winning 12 seats recently in the local elections in Andalusia.
Spain best country for retirees
There must be a reason why Spain is such a popular place for British people to retire to and now
International Living magazine’s 2019 ‘Best Places to Retire’ has placed as 2nd best in Europe, just behind its neighbour, Portugal. The Magazine used the experiences of expats living on the 5 continents which included climate, cost of living, food, healthcare and even bureaucracy.
A breakdown of reasons for Spain achieving such an accolade shows that eating in Spain is really good value, whether you cook at home or go out to one of the thousands of bars and restaurants for a lunchtime menú del día which nowadays costs €12-15 for a three-course meal with wine. Food in supermarkets also fared well, with the range of Spanish produced fruit and vegetables and fresh fish.
When it comes to healthcare, the magazine notes that Spain has one of the best medical care systems in the world as it is placed at number two in Europe. It also states that Spain is very tolerant of alternative lifestyles. The numerous festivals and music festivals help to make Spain a very socially oriented country.
Spain has one of the lowest violent crime rates in the world. Another good reason to consider retiring here. Single women feel particularly safe in Spain. The magazine also discusses the climate and with an average of 300 sunny days a year, Spain is the obvious choice for many. It’s not all about sun though, as Spain’s excellent ski resorts offer a less expensive skiing holiday than in France, Austria and Switzerland.
As far as the cost of living is concerned, the magazine says Spain has ‘one of the lowest costs of living in Europe’. Many retired people don’t have mortgages and probably use a car little, so the magazine has calculated that a single pensioner could live quite well on €1000 a month. The cost of transport is also mentioned as reasonable and the intercity train services are excellent. However, it is true that in rural areas you probably need a car. The overall running of train services is highly praised as rarely is a train late and the carriages are clean.
If you’re coming to Spain to look at property, make sure you know what to look for by reading our free guide, Your Viewing Trip.
If you are thinking about retiring to Spain, this report should encourage you to do so. There are already over 300,000 British people registered as living in Spain, enjoying everything it has to offer.
Spain is number one for transplants
For the 27th year, Spain is the number one country for organ transplants. Last year, 2243 operations were carried out, up from 2183 the year before. There are 114 transplants per million people which is the highest in the world and 100 hospitals are licenced to carry out these operations.
The high numbers are mainly due to the public willing their organs for donation. In 2018 just under 15% of families refused to allow someone’s organs for transplant, an extremely low number.
Public dental services come to Barcelona
Dental work is not covered by the Spanish health service but now, for the first time, the fortunate citizens of Barcelona will have access to a publicly funded dental service which won’t cost the earth. Treatments will vary between 13% and 35% less than private dental prices.
To begin with the new service is for lower income families but eventually it will be available for any resident in Barcelona. This is welcome news as many people in Spain never visit a dentist because of the cost. In fact, Spaniards have the worst dental hygiene and oral health in southern Europe according to the association of orthodontists, SEPA.
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IKEA to provide pet furniture!
People visiting an Ikea store in Spain will now see a new range of furniture – for pets, designed by a Valencian who loves animals. The range has the name “Lurvig” which means “fluffy” in Swedish.
The designer, Inma Bermúdez, has in mind ways to save expensive “human” furniture being ruined by cats scratching or being covered in hair and fur. There are scratching poles, cabinets for cats, sofa covers and toys. Prices are very reasonable, from €5 upwards.
You may be surprised, the Spanish are pet lovers. 4 in every 10 Spanish homes has one pet but it is quite common to find a small menagerie in a Spanish apartment or house. Tiled floors instead of carpets makes it easy to clean and animals are treated as family members.