The British community in Malaga has shrunk by one third in three years. The speed is due to several factors such as ageing, loss of spending power and fiscal pressure, but its rate is increasing, according to the latest figures regarding continual residence.
Between 1 January 2015 and 1 January 2016, 5,240 British citizens were removed from the population registers. Although this is still the most numerous foreign nationality in the province, with 50,888 residents, it is clearly reducing and the effects of Brexit have not even started yet.
It should, however, be pointed out that not all the British people no longer on the population registers have left. Some don't want to be registered to avoid having to declare all their assets in accordance with the regulation introduced by the tax authorities on foreign residents in 2013. These are normally people who divide their time between the UK and Spain.
Nor are the British the only foreigners who are leaving. In 2015, the number of foreigners on population registers in the province dropped by 8,093 to a total of 239,810 (about 14.7% of the population).
This trend has been recurring during the past four years for two simultaneous reasons: immigrants returning to their own countries, especially in South America, and European residents leaving or removing their names from the register.
The municipality most affected by the loss of its foreign population is Mijas, where the numbers dropped by 2,962 in a single year. Next is Malaga (-1,649), Estepona (-1,005), Marbella (-485) and Benalmádena (-458). Besides Malaga, where the loss of foreign population is more to do with immigrants returning home, all the other municipalities are favourite places of residence for the British community on the Costa del Sol.
Despite this notable fall in the foreign population, the province has not lost inhabitants overall. In fact, it ended 2015 with a slight increase of 325 people on the population registers. The saying "win some, lose some," perfectly reflects the situation in Malaga, because while the foreign population is shrinking, the native one is growing: in the same year, 8,418 Spanish people registered on the 'padrón' here for the first time.
By municipality, Marbella's population grew the most in 2015, with a further 1,207 inhabitants. Rincón de la Victoria, Vélez-Málaga, Benalmádena and Torremolinos also gained in registered population. This increase compensated for the fall in 75 municipalities. Malaga city was one of those: it lost 121 inhabitants.