The 200 or so ex-pats who call a sleepy mountain village in Spain’s Andalucía home, woke yesterday morning to find that their future had changed overnight. By how much no-one can accurately predict at this stage and its going to be an agonising wait for them all over the next couple of years as politicians wrangle an exit deal on their behalf.
In the immediate aftermath rumours seep through the streets and gossip bounces off the white walls and ricochets around the village…
A fifty-year-old business owner in the process of purchasing property saw the value of their capital drop by more than 10% overnight. A retired couple that have lived here 25 years fear that their only option may be to return to the UK once the healthcare and pension issues have been settled and yet may never be able to sell their house here. “You’ll be kicked out,” a few prosaic Spaniards announce!
The non-Spanish who live here are a diverse group, who settled here for the quality of life, the pace and simplicity of rural Andalucía and the reliable sunshine. It is the antithesis of 21st century urban living and a heady blend of passion and serenity. Sure there are members of the “Bridge Set” here, but there are also young families whose children attend the local school; the middle-aged running restaurants and local businesses; artists and artisans beavering away in their studios; men – young and old – offering their services as Spanish teachers or local guides; electricians and mechanics; people managing holiday rentals, and running retreats or writing workshops.
Austerity has taken its toll: the streets are punctuated with half-finished buildings; the young cannot find work unless they escape to the coast or beyond; life has a raw quality to it and people often live hand to mouth. Being one of the region’s famous white villages, the local economy has a certain reliance on tourism. It is too early to say what impact the UK’s decision to leave Europe will have socially and economically but one thing is for sure…
one small island’s ripples extend far and wide across Europe and it’s actions will not only change the future for the ex-pats living here, but the community as a whole.