Returning from Spain - Migration and Economic Crisis: Responses

Shattered Dreams? Older British
People Returning from Spain
Our Research
My PhD –
 Collaboration with Age Concern España.
 Interviews with 20 older vulnerable households in
Spain - 7 were returning to the UK.
Charles’ PhD –
 Focus on older British people returning to the UK
(triggers, experiences, support, barriers).
 Year 1.
 Early observations and findings.
 Very little research on return migration.
Older British People in Spain
 International retirement migration to Spain; approx
100,000 British nationals receive state pension in
 ‘Older British people in Spain’ – not a clearly
identifiable group:
Definitions of ‘old age’ (55+, state pension age?)
Definitions of ‘migrant’ – Many only spend part of the year in
The Economic Crisis - Headlines
Returning from Spain – Headlines
Our Research - The Economic Downturn
 Exchange rate fluctuations.
 Many living on basic state pension with few savings.
 Higher living costs – food, utility bills, community fees, prescription
 Lifestyles changes:
“I don't eat out as much as I used to”.
“I am not able to go on tours which I love because I enjoy seeing parts of
 Support Networks:
Unable to visit family/friends in the UK.
“I can only afford to see my grandchildren
once a year”
 Destitution in Spain:
Use food banks at Church/Age Concern.
Returning for Financial Help
 Return to access welfare support - pension credit,
housing support.
 ...But weak Spanish housing market –
financial barriers.
“I wouldn’t be able to afford to go back [to the UK].
And certainly not into where I want to go because
they are very, very expensive, so I am afraid I will
have to spend my last years here”.
To Stay or To Go?
“When we came to Spain we had a wonderful lifestyle. The
cost of living was cheaper than in the UK…we didn’t seem
to be spending as much money as we were in the UK.
Now the rate of exchange of the pound against the euro
has plunged, and therefore we are financially worse off
especially since 2009…
We have talked a lot about returning to the UK, but we do
not really want to. We own our apartment and I wonder
whether we would get back what we paid for it years ago.
Even if we could sell the apartment would we have
sufficient financial capital to buy in the UK?”
Returning for Health and Social Care
 Return following a decline in health or health crisis.
 Lack of after care when leaving hospital.
 Lack of suitable care homes in Spain.
 Only available to those with
financial resources to pay.
Returning for Support
 No family in Spain – need informal care and
 Isolation and loneliness
 Following death of partner
 Friends die or return to the UK
 But lose touch with family and friends in the UK…
‘I am trying to come to terms with the loss of my
wife. We had been married for fifty years. I don’t
know how I am going to cope...Perhaps I ought to
be thinking about returning to the UK. I
communicate with my family there occasionally;
however I am not sure if I would be welcome. I
think we have lost touch with each other.’
Problems Returning to the UK
 Habitual Residency Test.
 Welfare support and care not immediately
 Housing - price rises.
 Family and friends have ‘moved on’.
 Relocating in old age is emotionally, physically
and financially traumatic!
Forward Planning?
 Financial planning difficult in economic crisis.
 Lack of preparation around old age care – “it won’t happen
to me” attitude.
 Few retired British Migrants speak Spanish - leads to
problems negotiating bureaucracy and accessing support
in Spain.
 On going reliance on the UK – UK health/welfare system
- UK based support in Spain
Concluding Comments
 Evidence suggests there are large numbers of older
British people returning from Spain.
 Numbers are increasing since the economic crisis.
 Return of ‘choice’ – pre-planned.
 Return of ‘necessity’ – no plan. Occurs when can
no longer live independently and no support
systems in place in Spain.
 Should the UK export benefits and financial
support to British nationals abroad?
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All pictures from Google images.

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