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BRITAIN'S love affair with Majorca is still going strong, so much so that the island is not just one of the favourite holiday destinations, attracting millions of British visitors a year, it is also on the fast track to becoming one of their favourite places to settle. Gone are the days when the British community was made up mainly of retired people, who had chosen to spend their last years on an island where the weather was infinitely better and their pensions went further. Now, the island is attracting enterprising young couples, often with small children, who have grown tired of conditions in Britain and/or are worried about the future - the British media are full of dire warnings that there will be a flood of immigrant workers from the ten new, mainly impoverished, countries from Eastern Europe due to join the EU, to add to the already “shambolic” asylum system. Figures are hard to come by but the British community in Majorca is believed to number about 35'000.
British Consul Mike Banham said “we get the impression there is a continuous growth in the number of British people living on the island, although it is very difficult to estimate because few people actually register with us. However, talking to estate agents, it seems that people are still buying houses here.” This is confirmed to some extent by White & Co Removals, who said they were doing “a brisk trade in bringing people over here.” But just what are the advantages the island offers?
Many people coming to live here speak of the lower cost of living, something which people who have lived here for some time would dispute, as the Balearics has one of the highest costs of living in Spain. But, the island does not have the spiralling council taxes which have been hitting middle-class home owners. The local property rates, known as the IBI, are much more modest, and the annual increase is minimal. The national health service has improved, and Son Dureta has a fine reputation. And in contrast to crowded British wards, more than 60 percent of patients are in individual rooms. Earlier this week, Balearic leader Jaume Matas announced a comprehensive school building programme, which will ensure that parents can send their children to the school of their choice. Recent crime figures showed the biggest drop in crime in recent years, and more police have been promised.
And finally, the life style here is much more laid-back - there are 14 public holidays a year, compared to nine in Britain; bar and restaurant times are flexible; and, of course, there is the mild winter, summer sun and the scenery.