In the summer of 2016 and 2017, I drove down to Spain to spent time in Murcia and Andalusia. I visited again in the early spring of 2019. As a European citizen, I was curious about what it meant for Northern Europeans to settle down in the more rural provinces of Southern Spain. Perhaps because I also dream of warmer climates. I came into contact with mostly (but not solely) British pensioners, which is not surprising, considering that over 296.000 UK citizens live in Spain. Most of whom I met had consciously chosen not to settle in the big urbanizations at the coast but to settle in the countryside or in the surrounding villages. I was intrigued to learn that especially British pensioners not only migrated to follow a dream but also to improve their lifestyle. Their money was ‘worth’ more in Spain than in England. Some could now afford a house with garden or even a swimming pool, although some are moving back now because of Brexit. Many English like the small Spanish towns and the (more) traditional values. It reminds them of Britain ‘in the good old days’: the slower pace, less pressure, and fewer people. And, most important of all, more than 2500 hours of sunshine a year! As a woman once said to me: ‘Living abroad is taking the sting out of life’.
But how do these Northern Europeans connect to this dry land, which has a history of its own? It seems that the drought is getting more intense over the years and the (younger) Spanish people are migrating to the cities (or even the Northern European countries) looking for work, as is happening all over the world.
The landscape is slowly chancing its identity into a new one….