Views of Soller- | Shirley Roberts

A new decade – how exciting is that? 2019 sees the end of a period of arrivals, departures, profit and loss on our island. I arrived to live full time here in the decade ending in 2010. My experiences as a holiday home owner had been lived for ten years before that. I was one of many people arriving to live here full time. My husband was retired but I wasn’t. This fact took me into employment contracts and life on the radar in Majorca. Many of the people we knew intended to live here on their pensions in the sun. Prices in those days were cheaper than in the UK and the comfort zone stretched far out into the distance for them.

In the past decade everything changed as Spain became very European in its rules. Changes for incomers about the amount they needed to have in the bank before living here reviewed the plans of many. A requirement for private health insurance for those under pension age was another. The changes to the exchange rate meant that the cash from the UK was not going to buy that Majorcan mansion they had set their heart on. Then came Brexit with its scaremongering stories. This was enough to send some people scurrying back to the UK. They didn’t want to hang about to see if the nightmares predicted came true.

So what about the lives of Humans of Majorca as we enter the 2020’s? The fundamental changes are that people like me who arrived to live here full time have been replaced. These days the majority of older incomers live here for a maximum of six months each year. This is all to do with taxation and the new rules that can see double taxation on worldwide assets in Europe. The Six-Monthers have to investigate their status on a case by case basis about healthcare. The end result is usually a bill for healthcare or a decision to have private health insurance. The status of resident is not bestowed on you simply because you own a property here. This involves registering with your local town hall as an ‘inhabitant’. In the Soller Valley we have discounts on some services for residents. A big argument this year has been on whether the six - monthers are covered by the same rules.

The next group of incomers are families with school age children. The parents are usually self employed people who can work from anywhere with a computer. The exception to this definition are the yachties who settle their families in Majorca while they look after the super yachts of the world. This means that computers and boats run the lives of a huge number of the Humans of Majorca as we enter 2020.

So what does all this change in population mean for us in our lives here today? The biggest effect is being felt by the charities of Majorca. The retired incomers were the ones who gave their energy and time to raising funds for all the good works done here. With many of the people leaving and those that are left only here for six months of the year this is a big problem. The family lives of the vast majority of young incomers leave very little time for the fund raising their elders used to do.

The churches of Majorca are also feeling the strain. The local Catholic churches continue their good work via Caritas and continue to have great support from local villages. The Anglican Church’s congregation has depleted and has not been replaced by the family incomers. They struggle financially to do more than pay for the services of a Vicar.
The Evangelical churches on the island are doing a great job in caring for those struggling in the community. They do remarkable work in feeding and watching over their growing congregations. These are the churches which are packed with children and family groups all looking out for each other. South American energy and enthusiasm is alive and well in these churches. The Salvation Army in Majorca have new leaders and the soup kitchens and charity shops are a testament to their good work.

At heart nothing has changed here except the groups doing the great charity work has shifted its emphasis. Practical religion has moved in and work alongside the charitable work which continues to exist here. The fact that they all need to support so many is a subject for another article. This land of plenty is also a place of disproportionate poverty and child hunger.

2020 has an optimistic ring to it and we all love a new beginning. The lessons of 2019 will have been well learnt by some and good will come out of it. The Humans of Majorca will continue to arrive and make their contribution to our beautiful island. Every day is a new page and every week is a new chapter. I look forward to sharing them with you.
Happy New Year from Humans of Majorca.