Expat Groundhog Day
In the 1993 movie Groundhog Day Bill Murray plays the part of a reluctant weather man who is sent to cover a story about Punxsutawney’s annual Groundhog Day celebrations. Facing the fourth year on the same story he is somewhat frustrated, so when he wakes up one morning to find himself stuck in time loop – reliving the day over and over again – he uses the fact to his advantage, until it hits him that he is stuck, forever, in the same place, doing the same thing, day after day after day.
The film reminds me a lot of the expat lifestyle of many Brits living in Spain, and is something I suggest anyone thinking of coming to live in Spain watches!
Many expats living on the Costas of Spain, retired or semi-retired, must feel that they are living in their very own Groundhog Day.
For many living here, regular holidays in one location led to the inevitable second property abroad, which in turn became part of their retirement plan. For many this plan involved travel back and forth to the UK, around Spain and plenty of visits from family and friends throughout the year.
Fast forward a few years and the ongoing crisis in Spain has dampened the dreams of many: reduced flights to and from the UK means even those that have the funds can’t fly as often, significantly reducing the visits of family and friends. Furthermore, the current Euro to Pound exchange rate has hit many hard, especially when coupled with widespread price hikes.
Now before I continue I know there are many British expats living and working in Spain. There are students studying here, families bringing up children and going about the normal day to day functions of everyday life. Not every expat is retired. Not every expat is living in a Costa devoid of the usual turnaround (and fresh stimuli) of tourists.
But on the other hand there are thousands who must be, if not already brain dead, pretty close to becoming so.
I refer to those that spend their days and weeks shuffling around the same bars, the same quiz nights, the same tribute bands, the same annual events, the same golf competitions on the same days on the same courses with the same people, the same prizes and the same drinks and tapas in the same place!
Of course we are all different. Many thrive on the security provided by doing things in groups, the familiarity of repeated events and activities, of having no need to plan or be spontaneous. For those of you that are like that Spain is probably pretty much perfect for you right now!
Personally that sort of day in day out, week in week out repetitiveness resembles a living Hell and I count myself very fortunate not to be trapped in it.
I suspect an enjoyable retirement requires several ingredients: health, funds, interests, fresh stimuli, new people, etc. If this crisis teaches us one thing it is that the sun doesn’t always shine here in Spain.