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I recently spent a few days in Spain, down near the Portuguese border, on a stretch of coastline called the Costa de la Luz - you may not have heard of it as there aren’t many ex-pats that far down.

It’s where the Spanish go on holiday and I can thoroughly recommend it.

However what struck me was how hard hit the Spanish have been by the recession, particularly in relation to property and unemployment.

If ever you wanted a reason why not to buy property abroad as an investment just take a trip there – there are literally thousands of incomplete properties, even more completed but empty properties which have been up for sale for so long that grass and weeds are growing up through the patios.

I recently spent a few days in Spain, down near the Portuguese border, on a stretch of coastline called the Costa de la Luz - you may not have heard of it as there aren’t many ex-pats that far down.

It’s where the Spanish go on holiday and I can thoroughly recommend it.

However what struck me was how hard hit the Spanish have been by the recession, particularly in relation to property and unemployment.

If ever you wanted a reason why not to buy property abroad as an investment just take a trip there – there are literally thousands of incomplete properties, even more completed but empty properties which have been up for sale for so long that grass and weeds are growing up through the patios.

As an example I saw a large villa alongside a golf course that was sold at the end of 2006 for 370,000 euros – it is now up for sale at 190,000 euros.

There are dozens of building sites with idle cranes, locked gates and nobody working.

Values are still dropping through the floor and it’s easy to see that it could be many years, if ever, before values begin rising again.

Unemployment, particularly amongst the under 25’s, is high and rising quickly – apparently over 20% of the under 25’s are unemployed.

It’s quite spooky travelling through any of the larger villages or towns as there are groups of men (mainly) just standing around or sitting outside cafes – nothing much is happening and it’s almost like a scene from the Great Depression.

In fact while I was there, a General Strike in protest against unemployment was called and I understand it was well supported throughout the country – however, almost comically, it would have been difficult to tell which day the strike was held as there was absolutely no difference between the day of the strike and the previous/next days as there is so little going on anyway.
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