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Making Your Retirement Dreams Come True In Spain

Aug 17, 2007
For some reason most of we Americans who have never visited Spain think of this country as a small one and it comes as a shock to find that of all of our States only Texas is larger than she.

Possibly our ignorance of Spain is due to the fact that few members of this generation have visited Spain. This is due in large part to the many wars that have ravaged Spain. After World War II Spain was virtually ignored for years.

Tourists were coming to Europe as never before, but the main points of interest were further north, England, France, Switzerland, Italy. In 1947 only 3,700 of our countrymen entered Spain and the figure only slightly more than doubled in 1948.

But finances have been chaotic since the war and everywhere prices have literally zoomed. France, once a bargain paradise, became as expensive as the United States, or nearly so. And Switzerland and Italy trailed not far behind. Rumors began to drift up from the south that Spain was still operating at pre-war prices. That you could travel in Spain at a fraction the price in the more popular tourist countries, or could retire on a pittance.

And nothing spreads so fast in the traveling set, and those who live permanently, or semi-permanently abroad as such rumors. Thousands began to drift into Spain, and then tens of thousands, until at this writing at least a quarter of a million Americans visit Spain each year, and thousands have become permanent residents.

Of course, just because a country is cheap is no reason to retire there. Possibly the cheapest place I have ever been is the interior of Turkey. I would estimate that given the current black market rate of exchange, you could live there like a pasha for $50 a month for a couple. But what would you do? What would you see? Who would you talk to? You might live in a palace and have a swarm of servants on $100 a month in one of the smaller towns of inland Turkey - but you'd probably go stark raving mad after a couple of months or so.

But Spain offers a good deal more than economy. Her scenery is varied, her climate probably the best in Europe, with the possible exception of the Greek islands, there is a wide Anglo-American population which guarantees companionship if you cannot find it among the Spaniards, and the luxuries as well as the necessities of life are available.

There is one thing that you are undoubtedly going to resent in Spain and I might as well state it bluntly. In spite of the fact that Uncle Sam is currently playing footsie with Franco, in return for military bases, this country is a police state and everywhere you see signs of it. In no country in Europe, even behind the Iron Curtain, have I seen so many armed police and soldiers continually patrolling the streets and roads, two by two, machine guns slung over their backs. Spain has one of the largest standing armies in Europe, and have no doubt about it, it is not because Franco's state fears invasion - the army and police are there to protect the state from the Spanish.

However, as far as you, personally, are concerned you are not apt to be touched by this situation. Foreigners, and particularly Americans, bring foreign exchange into the country so largely they are left alone. Spain is a beautiful country, her people wonderful people. If you are not depressed by her social system you will probably love her.
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