• Quote: ‘We’re just desperate to keep our Spanish home, although the cost of keeping two homes is a struggle. Being unable to become residents, our Spanish dream life would have to be the first to go’

By Andrew Atkinson Exclusive

Living the Broken Dream – that’s the upstart of many British expats who have had their life in Spain end – amid Brexit at the turn of the year.

“We moved to Spain in 2018, both of us recently retired and very excited about our new life,” said Geraldine McIlroy, who was living the dream, with partner Steve.

Britain coming out of the European Union has seen hundreds of expats living in second homes and caravans in Spain shelving long-stay tourists in their tracks of a life in the sun

Without residency you can only stay in Spain 90 consecutive days, before having to return home, on a three-months stay/return calendar year.

Applying for a Visa to spend more time in Spain is an option, under protocol measures, one not of interest to many, who have placed their homes and caravans up for sale.

Britain left the EU on January 31, 2020 bringing Spanish immigration regulations to the table, thus ending free movement.

The Group hit hardest are retirees who annually arrive in Spain during the winter months.

Arrivals in October have to leave Spain in December, meaning returning to the cold January, and unable to return until April.

Brits in popular Benidorm and in the Costa Blanca non- residence cannot justify their stay in Spain, with the residencia requirements palming them away, including Torrevieja and Los Montesinos.

Simply, many cannot afford the costs. Some are turning to rental accommodation upon selling their Spanish houses and caravans.

The Covid-19 pandemic that hit in March 2020 saw thousands unable to travel – hitting them in the pocket – with property running costs still having to be paid, running into thousands of euros annually.

Staying in Spain for a maximum 90 days was legally in place, prior Brexit, with the authorities clamping down on overstopping since January 1.

Paco Delgado, owner of three Benidorm campsites, said: “A lot of people would like to stay longer, but they can’t.

“We had regular seasonal people – now we don’t – many have sold their caravans that they had fixed for a long time.

“Some have under-sold, due to the need to have no expenses, by not being able to travel as much as they would like.

“There are British people who decided to continue coming to Spain – though they have reduced their time of stay.”

Speaking exclusively to The Leader, Geraldine said: “We kept our house in England, renting it out as a means of more income to enjoy in Spain, which we certainly did.

“Then along came Brexit. In hindsight, maybe we were naive, but we were never told that we couldn’t stay in Spain permanently, without residency.

“Nobody ever mentioned this, so we were living the dream in blissful ignorance.

“Once we realised the rules, we looked into residency, but it just wasn’t durable for us. So, in 2021, less than three years into our new life, we now find ourselves back in the UK.

“Our new home in Spain is now just a holiday home – Brexit has turned our lives upside down – not to mention that of our tenants, who had to move out of our house in England.”

Geraldine, whose holiday home is in Los Montesinos, added: “We now have to plan our trips carefully, to avoid overstaying. Brexit has cost us thousands of pounds in terms of loss of income – and having to pay to run two homes.

“We’re just desperate to keep our Spanish home, although the cost of keeping two homes is a struggle. Being unable to become residents, our Spanish dream life would have to be the first to go.”

Caption: Geraldine and Steve: Desperate to keep Spanish home.