Retired British Expats Sell On Costa del Sol Due To Changing Rules | Travel News | To travel



A myriad of new rules – and strict enforcement by Spain’s police – have left many of the 360,000 Britons living in the country fearful for their future. And real estate expert and managing director Robert Barnhardt told that many are now starting to sell.

Robert moved to Spain in 1984 and runs a real estate agency in Fuengirola, a town on the Costa del Sol known for its sandy beaches and summer festivals. His clients include both British and Spanish and he has spoken to on the latest real estate trends on the Costa del Sol.

He said: “A lot of retired Brits are starting to sell. They would come here in September or October and then stay until April / May for the six months of better weather.

“But now they can only come for 90 days and a lot of them used to drive down. The Spaniards are now becoming quite strict on cars registered abroad and mainly on British cars.

“On the rural roads, where I live in the sticks, a lot of people drove in the same English cars.

“I mean I’ve definitely seen them for 10 to 15 years with the same vehicle. And now it’s against the law and they’re being impounded.

READ MORE: Holidays in Portugal: What are the latest travel rules for Britons?

The RAC tip for driving in Spain is that your vehicle should display the UK letters and the letters should be visible regardless of what is on the car’s license plate.

Robert also suggested that health insurance had an impact on the decision of British expats to sell on the Costa del Sol.

He said “A lot of older people choose to go. Sometimes because of health care, or their health coverage.

Expatica states that an expatriate can now only access free health care in Spain if he is a resident or if he works and pays social security contributions.


Around 360,000 Britons are registered as permanent residents in Spain, but moving after Brexit has become much more difficult.

Robert said: “The British people do not have the right they had before Brexit to come and live here now.

“You could get a temporary residence permit, but like when I first came here permanently in the early 1980s, it was very complicated.

“We had to have a minimum of 25,000 pounds in a Spanish bank account. We had to get a certificate to say the money was in the bank account, bring that certificate to the Spanish consulate in Britain, get a visa, come here with your visa, then you used to get a permit to regular temporary stay.

In the absence of Brits, Robert’s agency saw many Spanish buyers after the Spanish foreclosure ended.

He said: “I would say that 85% of the buyers we are seeing right now are Spanish, mainly from the provinces of Seville, which are the closest inland regions.

“Much of our work is done by word of mouth, so people who bought 25 years ago, now their kids are coming to buy.

“Very often wealthy Spanish families and businessmen are looking for a second home on the coast.”

Despite the new rules, Robert is sure the Brits will still want to go to the Costa del Sol for vacations.

He said: “The British will always come here, whether they come as tourists or residents.”

Robert also said anyone who has a vacation home and wants to visit within 90 days out of 180 days will be fine to do so.

He added: “But if people want to go down and live under the radar without a residence permit, sooner or later they’re going to get caught.

“If you don’t want to work, no one is going to give you any money, you have to prove that you can support yourself and if you don’t have a sufficient pension then frankly they don’t want you.


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