Park Guell in Barcelona, Spain

For many years, Spain has been a top holiday attraction to Brits for a number of reasons. Gorgeous weather, dramatic scenery and beaches, exotic foods and arguably most importantly (for some), holidays tailored to ‘British needs’. For example, there are an increasing number of ‘British bars’ and restaurants serving English foods, and broadcasts of the English football on huge screens. For others however, falling in love with ‘traditional’ Spain soon increasingly held more of a permanent attraction. Spanish destinations saw a dramatic rise in British immigration levels, peaking in 2003. And who could blame them? The affordability meant this was a very real option for those destined to immigrate, and the promise of a new sunshine lifestyle saw a flood of new Britain’s now permanently living in Spain.

It’s not always sunshine and cocktails.

For some, the dream of a new life in the Costa Del Sol was not all it cracked up to be. The Spanish economy has dipped in and out of recession between 2008 to present and thus resulting in the tourist trade not flourishing as it once was. Demand for new villas and apartment blocks dramatically escalated during the peaks of immigration around 2003, but have now suffered the consequences since the start of the recession. Many developments remain unfinished and leave entire ‘ghost towns’. Examples of Brits being ripped off by fraudulent building companies are not all that rare, so the urge is to proceed with caution.

It’s not all doom and gloom however.

Spain still has so much to offer to us in terms of permanent residency. If you have secure finances, particularly those looking to retire, now is still as good a time as ever make the plunge – if you get it right. You will still get your UK pension if you move, just ensure you get the correct advice in completing all the specific paperwork before you leave. The Euro hasn’t the best exchange rate at it once had; currently it stands at about £1 – €1.15 (2013). Don’t be overambitious with your finances, prepare for the worst is the best safety net advisable.

Scout the location.

Location is key. You need to have spent time in your desired destination enough times to know whether it’d be somewhere that’d work for you. Fortunately, airline prices are still low between the UK and Spain, and the recent recession means hotel prices are at an all-time low. Do you research and get to know the place, as you would with any move. Avoid the tourist towns, as if you want a real taste of Spain then there is much more on offer to you elsewhere.

Consider the conditions.

The heat and sunshine is glorious for a relaxing summer holiday, but to work and live in the summer is a whole different environment. If you are used to a fast paced and busy lifestyle, I would consider your options until later in life. If you have children, the school timetable differs from the UK standard so it could be a lot for them to adjust to.

Most importantly you must do as much research as possible. Get as much information you can from as many different sources. ‘Word of mouth’ of those who have experience in this situation is invaluable. Don’t rush it, and don’t expect it to be a speedy process. It will take time, effort and lots of dedication. After all, you want it to be perfect.

This post was written by Shane, a freelance graphic designer who loves to spend his summers abroard working in bars or hostels. In his spare time he volunteers for the samaritans and likes to write helpful articles on subjects he knows he understands.