‘Horrendous mess’ British expats leaving Spain due to ‘dreaded Brexit’ rules – ‘decimated’

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According to some British expats living in Spain, Brexit has led many to sell up and return to the UK. Since Brexit, Britons have to follow some tough new rules in the EU.

Britons without Spanish residency can now only spend 90 out of every 180 days in the country.

This has impacted the plans of some British ‘swallows’, expats who used to spend four or five months in Spain during the winter.

British expats may also need to take a Spanish driving test if they didn’t exchange their UK driving licence before the deadline.

According to some Britons in Spain, the rules have led some expats to sell their properties and return to the UK.

On the British expats forum, Lou71 posted: “From my experience there are far fewer UK nationals in Spain.

“We first bought land back in 1998 and from then on, there were huge numbers of Brits buying property and moving to Spain but from about 2008 onwards, it slowly started to dry up and now I hardly ever come across the British.

“I have noticed a huge increase in other nationalities like Dutch, Belgian, French and German nationals who have bought properties from the departing British.

“The dreaded Brexit means that this is the direction of travel. Gone are the days of UK nationals being able to move to EU states with ease.”

Although Britons are still able to move to the EU, they will now need to have residency in their destination.

Spain has a golden visa option but as it requires Britons to spend at least 500,000 euros (£415,807) on property, it’s out of reach for some potential expats.

Lou71 claimed: “The number of incoming UK nationals will be miniscule because so many people will not meet the strict, third country criteria.

“It’s not just difficult to retire in EU states, work permits are a complete nightmare.

“When my British partner and I came through immigration at Malaga recently, I thought it was telling when the Spanish border official held up my Irish passport and said ‘this passport is better’ while my partner was ferreting around assembling paperwork!

“He wasn’t wrong. It’s a horrendous mess.”

Another expat said: “I will be moving back to the UK permanently after 19 years here in Spain.

“I believe the numbers of people moving here will be decimated, and we have only seen the tip of the iceberg.

Where should you go on your next holiday?

Now that the world has opened up again it’s time to pack those suitcases and head off on a well-deserved adventure. Where should you be jetting off to? Take our quiz and find out.


With endless culture, gorgeous beaches and weather to die for, Greece is a great choice both for romantic getaways and family trips. Wander the historical streets of Athens and Thessaloniki or head to an island to soak up the sun – the choice is yours.


It may be far away but it’s definitely worth the trip. Japan has sprawling metropolises, stunning scenery, and a rich history and culture to boot. Check out the cities of Kyoto and Tokyo and make sure to get your fill of their world-famous cuisine while you’re in town


Hop across the pond and experience an array of cultures, climates, cuisines and more. You can leave the phrasebook at home and get truly immersed in everything that this sprawling nation has to offer, from the Grand Canyon to the Statue of Liberty


With some of the best food around and boasting the world’s most romantic city, France is a great choice if you’re in a hurry. Be in its glorious capital in just hours, grab a pain au chocolat and practice your language skills while wandering along the banks of the Seine


La dolce vita is calling! With its stunning views, fascinating history and world-famous Neapolitan pizza, Italy is a great choice, whether you’re after an adventure or want to dive into a big bowl of spaghetti


A little off the beaten track, Morocco boasts stunning architecture, winding street markets to get lost in, and beautiful landscapes. Soak up the sun in Marrakech or head to Chefchaouen for one of the most unique experiences a holiday-maker can have

The Caribbean

Sun, sea and sand – what’s not to love? Head to the Caribbean if you really want to unwind. With plenty of picturesque locations to choose from, from the streets of Havana to the beaches of Grenada, you’re sure to find something that fits your holiday dreams.


When most people think ‘holiday’, sunshine and relaxation comes to mind – but a different kind of trip can be just as rewarding. Splash around in the Blue Lagoon and try your luck at catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights. This is definitely one for the bucket list.


India is well worth a visit if you have some time to spare. With an array of different cultures coexisting in this vast and vibrant nation, as well as gorgeous food to be enjoyed at every turn, you’ll find yourself immersed in the experience. Take a trip to the Taj Mahal for that jaw drop moment

Swiss Alps

If snow sports are your thing, then this mountainous region is perfect for you. Venture down the powdered slopes and warm your hands at the après-ski afterward. Perfect for a group of friends, a romantic trip, or even some time with the kids – if they can stand the cold!

What kind of holiday do you like best?

What’s your budget?

How long do you have for your trip?

Who’s going on the trip?

How are your languages skills?

What’s your ideal climate?

Which is top of your bucket list?

“People do not believe the annual income required nor do they believe they will have to take a driving test in Spanish.

“I believe the days of retirees coming to Spain are over and that eventually, another set of countries will take over as the main (destination) for retirees.

“I still think people are deluding themselves if they think that at 65 they will be able to pass a driving test having driven for 40 plus years picking up all the bad habits possible.

“For people living here legally, the Brits around you will diminish naturally over time although I do believe that holiday homes will rise.”

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