British expats flee from crisis-hit Spain

The number of Brits living in Spain fell by over a fifth in 2013 as the exodus of Spain's foreign residents brought the country's total population down for the second year in a row, data released on Tuesday shows.

British expats flee from crisis-hit Spain
Photo: Joe Shlabotnik

The number of UK citizens officially registered as living in crisis-hit Spain dropped nearly 90,000, or 22.8 percent in 2013, the preliminary figures from Spain's national statistics institute (INE) show.

The total number of Brits on Spain's town hall registers was 385,179 on January 1st 2013, but that population had plummeted to 297,229 a year later.

And while the actual number of UK citizens who make Spain their home could be much higher — the British Embassy in Madrid predicts as many as 800,000 Brits could live in Spain for all or part of the year — the new INE figures reflect a clear trend: foreigners are saying goodbye to Spain.

In fact the number of foreigners resident in Spain fell by 545,980 or nearly ten percent to hit 5,000,028 in 2013.

For citizens of other European Union countries the slide was even steeper at 13.3 percent.

Germany was the only country to see a bigger drop than the UK, with the numbers of Germans registered as living in Spain coming down 23.6 percent to 138,917 people.

French people also left, with that population down 12.7 percent to just over 100,000.

This decline in Spain's foreign population also saw the country's total population come down for the second year in a row.

While the total population of native Spaniards inched up by 141,361 people, the departure of foreigners saw the country's total population slide by 47,129,783 to 46,725,164.    

At the same time as Spain's expats head home, Spaniards are also leaving the country to look for work. Some 51,000 registered with the UK's national insurance scheme in 2013, making them the second largest group of arrivals after Poland.

Spain's unemployment rate is currently 26 percent, while youth unemployment is 55 percent.

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