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Changing faces, shaping places - Leaving for lifestyle

Changing faces, shaping places

Key questions

  • Which countries in the world are attracting retirees from the UK?
  • What are the motives for migration to Southern Spain?
  • What are some of the issues for people who have migrated to Southern Spain?

Key concepts

  • Cultural understanding and diversity
  • Place
  • Interdependence

Which countries in the world are attracting retirees from the UK?

Figures show that more people are leaving Britain than at any time for more than a century. Between July 2005 and July 2006, 385,000 people left the country, 200,000 of whom were British citizens. The rest were foreign nationals returning home. Retirement, work opportunities and quality of life are thought to be the three main reasons that people choose to leave the UK. Australia and Spain are the most popular destinations, although there are 41 countries with more than 10,000 British people living there are a further 71 with more than 1,000. (See Exodus as 1.8m Britons leave the country - Daily Telegraph 22.08.07).

What are the motives for migration to Southern Spain?

At the moment, over one million UK pensioners live abroad. In 1981, the figure was just 250,000. It is estimated that by 2050, more than three million British pensioners will be living abroad. This trend has been called silver flight. The biggest reason for this type of migration is the sunshine, but many migrants also mentioned the idea of retirement providing them with a new start in life. The cheaper cost of living is another draw.

Australia is the most popular destination for UK migrants of pension age (245,000), followed by North America (190,000), Ireland (105,000) and Spain (75,000). In La Cala de Mijas, a town on the Costa del Sol in Spain, one third of the residents are British.

What are some of the issues for people who have migrated to Southern Spain?

Case study: Living the expat life (See Three million will flee Britain to retire abroad - Daily Telegraph 10.12.06).

Ray and Pat Mitchell, originally from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, moved to the Costa del Sol following their retirement five years ago. They are among the increasing number of retired people choosing to live overseas where the climate is better for their health, the cost of living is cheaper and a new culture provides a sense of adventure:

"I visited England recently...and everywhere I went people were moaning about how difficult it was to afford a reasonable lifestyle there. We have lots of friends here and we indulge ourselves by taking lots of long walks along the beach and eating out. Of course, it is easy to do that here because everything is so much cheaper. The healthcare is good, and it is free once you become a resident here. I am sitting in my garden, the sun is shining and I cannot imagine ever moving back."

William and Mazzirha Stead retired from Northampton to Motril, in Southern Spain:
"The UK is becoming too expensive... I receive a state pension and a small private pension, and my money goes 30% further here because everything is so much cheaper."

"Northampton used to be a nice town. But it reaches the stage where we had to be careful where we went, because of young people causing trouble. Where we live now, the sun shines every day. We spend a lot of time visiting friends and the time flies."




Brits Abroad

Take a look at this map on the BBC News website which shows the number of pensions paid to UK citizens living abroad. You can switch the view between standard (a choropleth map) and proportional, in which the countries change size according to the proportion of retired emigrant UK citizens who live there.

Discuss with the rest of your class which countries attract the most UK retirees and why this might be.



Who migrates?

Complete the who migrates worksheet which encourages you to think about the kinds of people you would expect to migrate from the UK to Spain.

Complete the sketch on the worksheet to show the characteristics of a typical emigrant to Spain, and annotate your sketch with at least five points to explain your choice.

Living in Spain

Watch the video clip.

  • Were you correct in your predictions about the kinds of people who migrate from the UK to Spain?
  • Why do people migrate to Southern Spain?
  • Would you like to migrate to Spain? Why/why not?

Discuss with the rest of the class your thoughts about why people choose to migrate. Write a list of all of the different reasons you come up with.



What are the issues?

In this activity, you will think about some of the issues that migrants to Southern Spain might face. Sort the speech bubbles on the what are the issues worksheet into two piles: one for positive statements and one for negative statements.

Next, choose one of the issues and with a partner, write a two minute role play which highlights this issue.

Perform your role play to the rest of the class.

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