To move to Spain or not to move to Spain. That is the question. In our latest article we cover the pros and cons of moving to Spain in a pandemic and also give you a street view of what it's like in Spain as we enter July 2020.
We realised it was futile to talk about moving to Spain without talking about Covid-19. Despite the suffering, Spain has worked hard to get control of this novel Coronavirus. Lockdown measures have been at times brutal and policed accordingly. Whatever you think or feel about it, this has been an important part of recovery from this unprecedented pandemic. The Guardia Civil and Local Policía have exercised their new powers to fine and confine the community and done it without hesitation.
Culturally, the Spanish like the French and Italians, are huggers and kissers - especially kissers, both cheeks! Many have realised however that they have to change to protect themselves and others, especially their elderly. The family bubbles that were formed during lockdown have well and truly been burst. What we have seen however in day to day activities is a general willingness to comply with wearing a mask, gloves and carrying hand gel even in 30+ degree heat. People are changing their habits and getting on with life.
I’ve also mentioned in a previous article about Covid teaching us some lessons and that life is short. We’ve all had time to reflect on what’s really important for us as individuals and as families. So when asking yourself whether investing in that Spanish property and moving here is timely considering everything that’s happened, first let’s analyse the pros and cons as they stand this minute.
Looking at the cons of moving to Spain right now
Tourism numbers are down in Spain: The Tourism industry has taken a hit in Spain, no surprises really. Unfortunately, the ‘stay-cation’ in Spain is not going to make up for the reduction in numbers of foreign visitors this year. Spain closed 2019 with a record figure of 83.7 million inbound tourists, up 1.1% on 2018, as spending rose by 2.8% to 92.28 billion euros, breaking another record. This year has started on a sharp downward spiral where certain areas rely on specific tourist profiles such as Puerto Banus in Marbella, but we are watching intently over the coming months. This could have an effect on property prices and services in the popular areas that you may be looking to move to.
Flights are less frequent: Flights are sporadic and airlines are not in good shape so we could see price hikes and less flights (possibly less airlines too) in and out of Spain as well as concerns over seating arrangements and social distancing. However flights are open and people are arriving so we wait and watch. It will also be interesting to see which governments have yet to bail out which airlines.
New Covid-19 outbreaks may happen: Many see this as inevitable, irrespective of where you live in the world. How we manage future outbreaks is what matters. With hindsight, we would hope we have learned enough and formed the right new habits to protect ourselves and others so that we don't experience the extreme lockdown measures of the first outbreak. Meanwhile we are waiting for a stable vaccine or for herd immunity to kick in. In the larger communities there have been new infection outbreaks which have been associated directly with large gatherings (funeral wakes, weddings etc.) so Covid is still alive in the community. Each regional government is making laws as they see fit to keep future outbreaks to a minimum but we suspect Covid will be with us for a while.
Looking at the Pros of moving to Spain right now
Pubs, chiringuitos and restaurants are open in Spain: The reason why Brits travel to Spain is pretty obvious – entertainment and sun. Bars and restaurants have been open for business for a few weeks albeit working at a slightly reduced capacity. This is changing rapidly but still with strict measures in place. Things are picking up and we are very happy to see this. Waiting staff wear masks, tables are set further apart and the great weather here means alfresco dining, which is better for virus control and ventilation. Cleaning of tables and seats in between sittings is law now and the majority of restaurants are utilising QR-Code technology to present their menus to customers on their mobile phones so that they are not touching physical menus.
Temperature: We all like to talk about the weather and being in Spain doesn’t change that! When I made the move to Spain climate was a huge motivator. With the exception of February-April, Southern Spain is spectacularly dry, hot and lacking humidity which is great for your hair do and comfortable enough to give all day air conditioning a miss. The Winters are pleasantly warm making the possibility of the Christmas season being an outdoor affair. Houses are also geared for high temperatures using materials like natural marble which stays cool.
Pollution levels are down: The sunshine hours in Spain in the Summer are exceptional and the air is very clean around the coastal areas anyway. After lockdown air quality is even better and the Mediterranean has also had a chance to recuperate. The water actually looks cleaner than usual to swim in which is a big bonus.
Beach access is good: Beaches are open and Chiringuitos and beach clubs are offering sun loungers that are provided with a new cleaning regime. Personally I think this should have been a requirement anyway but Covid has improved the cleaning protocol of many sun lounger providers. The beaches are getting busier particularly in the weekends but people are respectful of distance, life guards wear masks and there is ample space for beach goers. Policing is visible as the Guardia Civil have been monitoring entry to some popular beaches because they are concerned about overcrowding, but we think this is a good thing (unlike recent troubling times at Bournemouth in the South of England).
Sports clubs are open: Golf clubs, tennis clubs and gyms are open for business now working in a modified way to provide guidance to correctly social distance and keep safe. A special mention of gyms here in terms of controls purely because of the nature of sharing equipment. At my gym, Alhamar Fitness Center in Calahonda, they are currently taking temperatures upon arrival, ensuring paper towels and disinfectant sprays are plentiful, after use of each machine it is wiped down by the customer and there is hand gel everywhere. Keeping a healthy distance from each other while training is also required.
Expats are attractive to Spain: The British Expat community in Spain is sitting around 250K strong. These are people who are permanently in Spain and doesn’t include the numbers who frequent Spain each year but may own a property here. Expat communities have a reputation for spending money, paying their taxes and keeping out of trouble offering an attractive type of visitor or immigrant to the Spanish economy.
Banks and housing markets are coping: Unlike the housing crisis of 2007/8 the banks have not been lending to all in sundry so there are less repossessions evident. House prices are currently holding around coastal locations that have great access to the sea and amenities. We suspect that as governments start to pull back on Coronavirus welfare payments, we may see more houses going on the market which could present an opportunity for those who want to move to Spain, but we are waiting to see what happens here.
So there you have it, the pros and the cons. Often the word on the street in a foreign country is not an exact match to the stories that are presented by the mainstream media. Ordinary day to day life in Spain is often less eventful. Our aim is to keep it real for you so you can have an authentic taste for what’s really going on.
The cities have been hit hard in Spain where infections and deaths from Covid have been devastating for these communities and some are still experiencing outbreaks although now under control. Coastal areas less so and Brits are attracted to these locations in Spain for the reasons we have outlined above. You could also ask yourself, ‘when is the perfect time to move to another country?’ Procrastination is the killer of all deals especially the ones you have made with yourself. But the Latin phrase ‘carpe diem’, seize the day, couldn’t sum it up better when it comes to making life decisions. What you do today, ultimately creates the future you want for tomorrow.
We hope we are helping shed some light on what life is like here in Spain. There is more to come so stay tuned.