This is Spain


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This is Spain

Oficina de Atención al Residente Internacional

Since the mid-1980’s, principally due to a property boom both in Spain and other, more northern European countries, many thousands of people from all parts, mainly Great Britain, Scandinavia and Germany have set up home in the warmer climes of the Mediterranean sunshine. Most new residents are attracted by the quality of life and sense of well-being that everyday sunshine provides, some for the health giving properties of the town’s two salt lakes, and many who, upon reaching retirement age, decide to enjoy the freedom that their retirement offers by adopting the tranquil way of life that Spain has to offer.

The prospect of a move to a different country has proved not to be so daunting as many would expect, Spain is a progressive and responsible member of the European Community and the way of life, generally, is not so different from the colder climes left behind. However, inevitably, certain things ARE DIFFERENT: the language, the bureaucracy, the ‘system’.

Recognising the needs of its 50,000 residents from other parts of the globe, Torrevieja Town Hall, under the direction of the former mayor, Pedro Hernandez Mateo, set up a special office aimed at making life that little easier for those unfamiliar with the ‘Spanish way’. The office, which first opened its doors in December 1999, is open every weekday from 9.00 a.m. to 2.00 p.m. The principal aim of the office, to act a a liaison between the ‘foreign’ residents and local government, dealing with complaints, constructive criticism and even useful suggestions, has almost been superceded by the need for a type of ‘advice bureau’. The staff, who are able to communicate in Spanish, English,German and French, offer friendly advice and assistance on such divers subjects as the obtaining of residence cards, health and social security, social services etc. offering guidance on how to deal with a bureaucracy which is sometimes different to that which they are used to. The office, under the direction of a British-born resident who has encountered the same difficulties as any ‘foreigner in Spain’, also works towards a greater integration of the foreign population through publicising, supporting and, on occasions organising, events aimed at bringing the various communities of such a cosmopolitan town together.

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