Emigrating to Spain is simple enough - there are no visa requirements for EC citizens - but Spanish bureaucracy may cause you a few nightmares. At present, you need a work permit and that may entail frustrating visits to countless government offices, blood tests and even a police investigation.
If your plan is to toil, rather than simply sun-worship, you will find the standard of living comparable to that in Britain and in the cities perhaps better.
You will get a three-bedroom home in the interior of the country, perhaps in a village, for as little as pounds 20,000. But villas anywhere near the Mediterranean or in the hills rarely run under pounds 100,000. In or around Madrid, a three-bedroom home will set you back pounds 200,000. Unfurnished three-bedroom apartments in the city centre start at around pounds 2,000 a month.
Cars are more expensive than in most of Europe, but roughly similar to UK rates. Eating out has become expensive. Nibbling out, which is more common, in the country's countless tapas bars, makes it reasonable. But a sit-down meal in an average central Madrid restaurant will easily run to pounds 30 or pounds 40 a head. Public health care is poor by EC standards but private schemes are good, far cheaper than in Britain.
The economy is still growing, though not at the boom rates of the late Eighties, with real GDP growth predicted at 2.4 per cent this year and next. The unemployment rate was 17 per cent last year, roughly double that of Britain and the EC average.
Together, austerity, bureaucracy and pure old-fashioned chauvinism make it difficult for foreigners to break into most professions. The exceptions are the obvious one - running a bar - as well as business relating to international trade, financial markets, services needed by expatriates such as property dealing and certain export sectors such as the wine trade. Britons are generally welcome - more than, say, the French.
There is plenty of culture but it is the culture of conversation that makes Spain tick. After the Franco decades of forced silence, talking about everything and anything, usually in bars, is the great national pastime.
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