Famous for its golden beaches, the sunny province of Alicante in eastern Spain has become a beacon for European travellers.
In a bid to avoid soaring energy bills this winter, some to the north of the continent are opting for towns on the Mediterranean Sea, such as Calpe, some 100 kilometres from Valencia.
In recent years, almost half a million people from 98 different countries have relocated to Costa Blanca and its 200-kilometre-long coastline.
Most choose this area because the winters here are mild but as the cost of living crisis continues, those lucky enough to work remotely further north are reconsidering where they live and why.
According to Statistica, the data analysis platform, a single working adult in the UK needs to earn at least €28,000 to reach a minimum acceptable standard of living in 2022. Across the British Channel in France, the eurozone’s second-largest economy, predictions for economic growth could be jeopardised as the war in Ukraine continues.
Anne Dingenen, a restaurant owner in Calpe says, “I think that there is a better life quality here. 65% of my workers are Belgians, but I also have English people, Spanish, French as well as Germans. I have all of them, yes.”
Drawn by the climate, more and more Belgians, Brits and Germans are making the change.
“There is no need for heating here.
“And people save money by coming here and not having to pay for gas or electricity, and now with the rise in prices I imagine that much more people will want to emigrate,” says Hilde Backaert, advisor to the Calpe City Council.
Calpe is home to Spain’s largest Belgian community – who according to Annie Gaudens, president of the Belgian Friend’s Association, enjoy a better quality of life here compared to back home.
“It is not possible for a pensioner to go to a restaurant every day in Belgium, but here it is! Here we enjoy life.
“My daughter calls me and tells me, mum, I have paid €250 in bills for one month, and I say, well, I paid €28. Because it`s sunny here”.
The cost of energy in Spain has doubled since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, and inflation now exceeds 10%.
However, in the southern and eastern coastal areas, winter temperatures rarely drop below the high teens so central heating is not necessary.