Lifestyle & Culture

Tracey Ingman in Spain: Brexit threatens our expat lifestyle and the Spanish neighbors we support

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRACEY INGMAN

The topic of conversation amongst British expats here in Mojacar, Spain during the past two to three years has included the “B-Word” – Brexit.

TRACEY AND PAUL INGMAN

Brits have been living in Spain under the assumption having Residencia as a permanent resident meant we are “safe,” safe to live here and travel as we wanted to.

Although we all know many other things surrounding Brexit would affect us, we didn’t really stop to consider that a no-deal Brexit could mean dreams of living our lives out in Spain might be severely affected

It really is possible (improbable some would say, but possible) that we would have to leave. It is extremely worrying and unsettling.

I was talking with an elderly lady a few days ago. A long-term resident of Spain for 30 years, she has no family in the United Kingdom and doesn’t know what she would do if she had to leave her home. This is the reality for so many retirees living here – along with anyone else living in the EU.

Unless they have changed their UK passports to Spanish passports and effectively become Spanish nationals, expats live here as residents or a non-residents.

The main difference is without Residencia you are unable to stay in Spain more than 90 days. That is, 90 days in every 183. Basically, three months in Spain and three months out of Spain.

Bearing in mind the majority of expats are retirees or working in some capacity, most people have taken Residencia.

There are various other incentives for doing so, but that’s maybe for a future post.

How we got to Spain

It was November 2003 when my husband Paul and I left the UK to start the next chapter of our lives in Southern Spain. We’d bought an apartment in 2001 and having spent time going back and forth between Spain and the UK for two years, saw no reason to follow our original plan, which called for waiting until 2008 to live full-time in Spain.

PHOTO COURTESY OF TRACEY INGMAN

Our area of choice was Mojacar, on the eastern side of Almeria province, in stunning Andalucia. The same year we settled into life in Mojacar, it was declared one of Spain’s prettiest towns. Everyone who lives here would agree. It really is beautiful. “Captivating” is a good adjective to describe Mojacar.

Mojacar is comprised of two parts: Mojacar Pueblo (the stunning whitewashed, cobbled streets old town) and Mojacar Playa (the beach). The Mediterranean on one side, mountains on the other, no high-rise buildings and a slow pace of life all contribute to making Mojacar a (GREAT?) place to call home.

In the early 1900’s the area suffered wars, droughts and diseases. In fact, following the Civil War, there was a drastic drop in the population. It was only in the 1960s when the Mayor began offering land to people willing to help restore the area that people returned. Amongst those were artists, journalists and anyone wanting a more laid back lifestyle. There are a great many local artists and museums still here today.

Expats and locals live in harmony

There are approximately 6,500 people living in Mojacar, comprised of 50 percent expats, including British, German, Swedish, Dutch. The rest are our wonderful Spanish hosts. With a great variety of nationalities and cultures comes a wide variety of restaurants and businesses. It’s wonderful to observe how everyone accepts their neighbours.

Paul and I and our beautiful rescue dog have made a life here in Mojacar.

We have a lovely home and wonderful friends. We have immersed ourselves into the Spanish way of life.

Conservation of this fabulous area is important to all. There are several charities/businesses working hard to raise awareness. We may only be a small population, but we’re grateful to live here and are doing our bit.

We volunteer at local animal sanctuaries. We volunteer at our local cancer charity and we, along with many expats, contribute greatly to the economy here.

Yes, of course, it was our choice to leave the UK, but it wouldn’t be our choice to return. As with many things Brexit, our future is uncertain. What should also be remembered is without the British expats’ contributions to the economy, our wonderful Spanish restaurant owners and businesses would also face uncertain times.

Brexit really does have far-reaching tentacles.

About the author:

Tracey Ingman lives in Mojacar, Southern Spain. Tracey had a career in the banking industry for most of her working life in the UK and is an ex-Magistrate.

She is a Holistic therapist and a dance instructor. Tracey and her husband Paul run a dance class locally.

They have lived in Spain for the past 16 years. They have also lived and worked in Malaysia and Dubai.

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