Saturday, 24 September 2016

Spanish College Course to Help Expats Become Spanish Citizens

Spanish College Course to Help Expats Become Spanish Citizens

While the panic that followed the Brexit vote has largely disappeared over the summer there are still plenty of British expats living in Spain who aren’t sure what comes in their future.

With Brexit causing so much uncertainty, some
expats are wanting to be come Spanish citizens 
It’s becoming increasingly apparent that things are unlikely to change much for Brits living in Spain and there are a number of way their concerns are being addressed. One of these is the Parnell Academy in Mijas in the Costa del Sol. This week they announced they were running a “Brexpats Spanish Nationality Course.”

The course is designed to help Brits currently living, or planning on moving to, Spain learn more about the customs, history, politics and language of the country. The main aim of the course is to help these Brits pass a Spanish citizenship test.

The Brexpats in Spain group, formed during all the hubbub of the Brexit vote in June, are helping the college run the course. They decided to help out after they received many questions from British citizens who were unsure about their futures in the country.

It’s not easy to pass the Spanish citizenship test and some are not suited for it at all, but it is one way for Brits who love Spain to ensure that they can live there as long as they want.

The Parnell College say that the course should cover everything that Brits would need to know if they want to pass the Spanish Nationality Exam. The College said that this Spanish Nationality Exam covers questions on topics such as the legal business hours in Spain, the national holidays of the country, and the different climates one can find in the country.

Natasha Parnell, director of the Academy, added that people taking the test will also be quizzed on their sporting knowledge and their understanding of the Spanish political system.

Anne Hernández, the founder of Brexpats in Spain, says that many Brits both in and around the Costa del Sol have plenty of unanswered questions about what rights they have following the UK leaving the EU. Things are unlikely to change much until the UK triggers Article 50 and even after the split is made official there is a 2-year “divorce period” where the terms of the UK’s exit from the UK are discussed and any deals are made.

Brits living in Spain are likely to be granted permission tostay in the country, though this could depend on the UK agreeing that EU citizens already living in the country can stay there. No matter what the rhetoric is it looks likely that the British government would actually choose to get rid of all of the European citizens contributing to British society.

Friday, 23 September 2016

One Spanish Restaurant makes you Shows Manners

One Spanish Restaurant makes you Shows Manners

If you’re a long-term expat living in Spain then you’ve no doubt enjoyed the smug satisfaction that comes with explaining to newer expats how things work in Spain.

not saying please or thank you could cost you more
One common piece of advice that is thrown around is that the Spanish don’t really say “please” or “thank you” so it’s not worth your breath to say them. It’s true enough that you’re less likely to hear a Spaniard say “por favor” and “gracias” than a British or Irish person.

This doesn’t mean that manners don’t matter. Manners are still very important in Spain but they are less overt about it. You should still remember your Ps and Qs when interacting with the Spanish service industry though. The people of Catalonia seem to have forgotten this though and it’s led to one café owner at a beach resort to implement a payment scheme based on manners.

After getting tired of locals and tourists forgetting their good manners the owner of the Blau Grifeu restaurant, Marisel Valencia Madrid, decided on new prices. Now customers are charged €5 for simply ordering “un café” (coffee), with a €2 discount for saying “un café, por favor” (one coffee please). Prices drop all the way down to €1.30 if a customer is nice enough to greet the server first and say “buenos dias, un  café por favor” (Good day. One coffee please”).

It looks like this nice little reminder that manners cost nothing is working. Madrid spoke with The Local and said that there has been a real difference since the new pricing system was introduced and the sign was put in the window. Customers are now more polite and it’s making everything just that little bit better.

The 41-year-old café owner remarked how children had been reminding their parents to say please and that it shows how well the scheme is working. Madrid was keen to clarify that Spanish people aren’t rude, just that people from all over, such as the French, German, and British tourists could all be a little more polite.

The cost of living in spain is low and after introducing the new pricing scheme Madrid has yet to sell a coffee at the full €5 price as most people remember all of their manners and grab the €1.30 coffee. She added that people have even started saying thank you, though they don’t get an extra discount for that!

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Poll Finds 92% of Spanish Expats Satisfied with Life

Poll Finds 92% of Spanish Expats Satisfied with Life

InterNations recently conducted their Expat Insider survey and found that practically every expat living in Spain says they are satisfied with their life in the country.

The annual poll was released this week and also includes what the main attractions of Spain are; people love the warmth, the landscape, the family-friendly atmosphere, and the accessibility of the country. These were the reasons most expats gave for why they choose to live inSpain.

Spain ranked 14th out of 67 countries polled. While it performed well in a number of metrics the country was let down by the lack of employment opportunities. Only 42% of those polled said that they felt positive about their career prospects in Spain. This category has a global average of 55% but, as many expats end up moving to Spain in order to work, this figure of 42% could be misleading.

When Spain was ranked on just why it attracts expats then it scored quite well. Over ¾ of the people who were polled said that Spain was just easy to settle down in, which was well above the global average of 59%. 86% of those polled said that the Spanish people are also friendly and welcoming.

84% of those polled also praised the Spanish weather and said that it was another positive factor of Spanish life. Only 1% of those polled said that they were dissatisfied with the Spanish weather after moving to the country.

The poll was conducted on over 14,000 people across 174 nationalities living in over 191 countries globally. Only the countries that saw more than 50 responses were ranked which is why it only goes to 67. This leaderboard of 67 countries was topped by Taiwan, Malta, Ecuador, Mexico and then New Zealand.

Spain was one of the most favoured European countries after Malta, Austria, Luxembourg and the Czech Republic. Spain was certainly one of the most popular ones. Given how many people responded about Spain it’s almost a miracle that the numbers were so high.

Then again perhaps it isn’t all that surprising. Just look around and see the beaches, mountains, cities in Spain, people, infrastructure and economy of the country and you’ll soon see it really is one of the best places to live.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016

July Saw 9.6 million Tourists Visit Spain, With One in Four Being Brits

July Saw 9.6 million Tourists Visit Spain, With One in Four Being Brits

Spain is Booming again with record numbers of Tourists
and the property market making a marvelous recover.
Records continue to be broken in Spain. With the cost of living being so low and the healthy lifestyle and warm climate. The country has recently seen its busiest July ever as the official government figures confirm that over 9.6 million tourists came to the country during the month.

This figure is an impressive 11% increase over last July and continued the trend of 2016 being a record-breaking year for Spain, with many of these records being broken thanks to the Brits.

One quarter of all the registered tourists in Spain in July came from Britain and were part of the largest shifts in tourism seen in years. Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia have seen a spate of terrorist attacks that have seriously driven down tourism numbers. Instead these millions of tourists are heading to safer destinations such as Spain and Bulgaria.

Barcelona, the Costa del Sol, and the Balearics and Canary Islands saw the biggest rises in tourism numbers. Majorca is also currently fully booked through the end of September according to the data.

The final tourism figures for August aren’t known just yet but the Association of British Travel Agents (ABTA) are predicting a 25% increase in visitor numbers for the month. Turkey has seen a 30% drop in tourism while Egypt has seen a 60% decrease. Tunisia has barely seen any tourists at all following a beach attack from 2015 that saw over 30 Brits gunned down.

The president of the Spanish Travel Agents and Tour Operators Association Rafael Gallego says that around 15% of the tourists that Spain welcomed would not have come to the country if it wasn’t for other destinations like Egypt and Tunisia closing down due to these tragic events.

While the country is always open to more tourists many in Spain feel that 2016 could be the peak of Spanish tourism unless new accommodation; such as hotels and apartments, are built soon.

The Spanish construction industry is already gearing up torise to the challenge, with house building reaching heights not seen in over 5years. Foreign developers are also keen to begin building real estate and hotels in the more popular regions of the country.

Things are also improving on the consumer level. Department store El Corte Inglés are reporting that they saw a 25% increase in sales over the last year. Fears before and after the Brexit about the value of the pound saw many Brits book all-inclusive packages to essentially lock in the price of their Spanish Holiday. Thomas Cook is reporting that six out of ten of the holidays they sold in Spain were all inclusive.

An ABTA spokeswoman said that the around 20% of all the Brits who go on holiday abroad now go to Spain. This means that one in five Brits who left the country to go on holiday went to Spain.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Spaniards Could be Getting Third General Election  before Christmas

Spaniards Could be Getting Third General Election  before Christmas
Spain hasn't suffered al all without an elected government
on the contrary Spain has flourished on all levels 
Living in Spain with the Spanish political situation has gone from being a farce to being just outright bizarre. It’s becoming increasingly likely that Spaniards will have to head to the polls for the third time in twelve months to vote following the general election of last December. It looks like the vote this December could even fall on Christmas day.

The second general election, held in June, ended with things looking similar to how they did in the first one from December. The People’s Party (PP) of acting Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy won the most votes but did not quite gather a majority. They also didn’t have enough friends to call on to form a coalition.
While there was always the chance that there could be a third election many hoped that a compromise would be made over the summer. Rajoy himself recently agreed to a six-point plan of action given to him by the centre-right Ciudadanos party in return for their support in forming a coalition. He also agreed that at the end of August he would be submitted to a confidence vote in parliament.

The main problem that has dogged the People’s Party is still around however in the form of the Socialist party. They have been unrelenting in their opposition to Rajoy and his PP. Unless they support Rajoy or decide to not be included in the general election it’s unlikely that the political deadlock will ever end.

This is where things really get interesting. In the – quite likely – event that a vote of no confidence arises Spanish law dictates that the King of Spain must dissolve parliament and arrange an election 54 days later.

The confidence vote is set for August 30 and if you do the maths you’ll quickly work out that 54 days after August 30th is Christmas Day.

Barely any Spaniards will like the idea of abandoning their Christmas plans to drag themselves to the polling station and vote for the third time on what boils down to the same election.

As such it’s expected that turnout will be down sharply if the election is actually held on the 25th. There are also people who believe that the date could have a positive effect on turnout. They surmise that people gathering with their families away from work will likely make politics a hot debate and it will cause more people to come out to vote.

That the electorate has been asked to vote for the third time in a year shows just how dissatisfied the Spanish are with the political climate of the country. It seems like Spain is a country where either the People’s Party or the Socialists are the ones in power.

The funny thing is that Spain has done just fine without a real government these past 12 months. More people are employed, the GDP is on the up, the property market in Spain continues to improve and tourism is the best it’s ever been. With Spain holding itself together so well it wouldn’t be that surprising if Spaniards continued to vote to stop a real government from forming and messing everything up.

Monday, 19 September 2016

The Pound May have Slumped A Bit But Spanish Visitor Numbers Still up 15% in July

The Pound May have Slumped a Bit, But Spanish Visitor Numbers Still up 15% in July

The British have always had a reputation of being hardy and not letting anything (or anyone) get between them and their summer holiday.

Spain is having an amazing year and beating previous
records month after month.
Even though the Brexit vote in June brought down the value of the pound for a short while and made it worth about the same as the Euro (some airports in Spain are even exchanging pounds for less than the cost of euros) Brits are still heading to Spain by the bucket load. The latest data from the Office of National Statistics (INE) shows that the number of British visitors to Spain soared by 15% in July.

The INE data shows that just over 27% of all the hotel rooms in Spain were occupied by Brits during July, even though the prices for those rooms have increased by an average of about 6% over last summer. The Spanish summer lure has been bigger than ever this year and the INE are also reporting that Spanish hotels across the country are reporting record occupancy numbers.

The Costal del Sol, which has always been a perennial favourite for the Brits, saw occupancy rates in July reach up to 79%. The Hotel Owner’s Association of the Costa del Sol (AEHCOS) say they believe this number will rise to a peak of 85% in August before falling down to the still-respectable 75% in September.

This summer spike prediction is pretty reasonable given the incredible start Spain got to the year. January and April saw an increase in visitor numbers of 13% compared to the same period of time in 2015 reaching a massive 18.1 million. Spain is definitely on track to break the records set last year and a large chunk of this is thanks to the loyalty of British holidaymakers.

More people from countries outside of the UK are also coming to Spain; there are 4.1% more German visitors, 8.8% more French visitors and 3.8% more Dutch visitors. The strange thing is that Spain has only become more expensive for British visitors but they continue to just keep coming.

After the pound dropped following the Brexit vote many felt that British tourism numbers would be down. Instead they rose at a much faster rate than any other nationality and still spend around the same amount on average while in the country.

British visitors usually have a positive effect on the economy in the area they stay. Brits also make up the largest portion of foreign property owners in Spain. A Market Report on the Costa del Sol from 2015 by real estate consultants Aguirre Newman showed that Brits made up a sizeable chunk of the 75% of foreign nationals purchasing property in and around Marbella.

This report also showed that villas for sale in the Costa del sol stay on the market for only half as long as they did a year ago, which is good news for the real estate industry.