It's That Time Of Year Again

It's the middle of September. The summer holidays are over. The children are back at school. The heat, such as it was, has gone out of the British sun. The days are getting shorter. Hopes of a good summer this year have finally evaporated. In another six weeks the clocks will go back; it will be dark when you travel home from work. Shortly after that, it will be dark when you go to work too.

So it's the time of year when you ask yourself whether there isn't a better life you could opt for. I guess this year that feeling will be even stronger in the UK as people look forward with apprehension to George Osborne's autumn spending cuts; it looks like being a long, hard, miserable winter.

You remember the sun, the fun, the stress-free time on the Spanish costas. And you may be tempted to up sticks and head for a new start and a better life in Spain - like the one I enjoy! If, like me, you are retired and have a secured pension income, (moderate will do), then I wouldn't seek to discourage you. How could I, when my entries in this blog paint such an attractive picture of life out here?

If, on the other hand, you have dependent children and you need to work in order to provide yourself with an income, then you should think very long and very hard; and you should probably conclude that it's better to keep it as a dream.

Younger Brits coming to Spain either have a trade, often to do with the building industry if male, or to do with hairdressing, beauty if female, or expect to find a job which demands their fluent grasp of English. This latter category usually means either estate agency, or running a bar/restaurant aimed at the British residents/holiday-makers.

The Spanish construction industry, and with it estate agency, has collapsed almost completely; a host of estate agencies have closed down over the past couple of years. Nothing is selling. The tower crane has become a rare sight, where once they despoiled the skyline. Spain is awash with Spanish construction workers - bricklayers, plumbers, electricians, roofers, tilers, plasterers, painters, etc - desperately looking for work. As a foreigner, you might as well not even try. Tourism numbers are down, so there is a glut of hairdressers and beauticians.

To give you an idea of the situation, here in Frigiliana, a village of 3,000 people, there are 258 people 'en paro' (on the dole), that's just over 8.5%. But, of course that 3,000 includes retired people no longer looking for work, mothers choosing to stay at home to care for children, and those children themselves. So - and I'm guessing now - probably only half of the population is in the 'working' group. In which case, 258 unemployed represents 17% of the working population or one in six. That's how bad things are right now.

There are also more bars and restaurants than the present state of the tourist industry can support; residents are eating out less frequently than they used to, so they can't make up the gap. You could, of course, offer 'something different' - import British beer, offer a full English breakfast, a roast Sunday lunch. Except that that isn't different; it's what most struggling British-owned bars are doing; and it doesn't work.

So I hate to be a killjoy, but if you dream of a new start for you and your children in a better climate, forget it. For those who have to work it will turn out to be a nightmare.


  1. By God, I must be really slow! But that's what retirement does, slows everything down to a more manageable pace. It was a comment on a recent posting on The Magistrate's Blog that made me realise where I had seen Payasoro before, but couldn't place it. Suddenly it dawned, the blogger's in Frigiliana!

    Must say, being able to relate to both, I do thoroughly enjoy reading both Living the Dream and The M Blog. But No, I shall not be uprooting to do any of the things mentioned in sunny Spain. Two to three months of the year there are lovely but the roots are deep at home.

  2. Welcome to my humble home! Do you know the village?
    I find the Magistrates' Blog really interesting and quite nostalgic. It keeps me in touch with one aspect of my former life.

  3. Apologies for the previous typo, Payasoru(o). I do feel as if I know your village quite well from your vivid descriptions and excellent photographs but unfortunately I have not had the pleasure of an actual visit. Life sounds to be very similar to that of close friends, ex neighbours, now living in Chirivel which I suspect may not be as large as Frigiliana.

    Notwithstanding the radical changes that have taken place in the court service over recent years isn't it amazing how many of the topics of years ago occasionally come up for comment on the Magistrates' Blog amongst the more serious stuff, e.g. the biscuits saga? That's nostalgia! Until recently I was a moderator on The MA Forum which I helped to establish, hoping it would become a useful and serious national discussion group and training aid but with a limited number of contributors, often going off topic and at times getting personal it got a bit nasty so I don't think my original objectives are likely to be achieved in the immediate future. I guess most active magistrates are busy people with not much time for reading stuff that would be better placed on Twitter or Facebook.