Former Mijas Councillor, Bill Anderson: LIFE ON THE DOLE IN SPAIN – THE REALITY

Is it even possible to survive on the Costa del Sol on 500€ a month?  The Spanish Benefits system seems to think so. After working here for 20 years, the last 4 years in public service, that is the net total of my benefits. I actually get 600€ but they take the first 100€ off to pay for my Social Security. It is very generous of them to make sure they get paid and that I have continued access to whatever services I need.

I have often asked myself how I ended up here. Poor decisions?  Maybe. Screwed from multiple situations? Definitely.

In 2019, I took Leave of Absence from my university teaching job for a lower salary in politics. As an opposition councillor, I had a ‘part-time’ contract. I guess it was my decision to dedicate myself to it ‘full-time’. I enjoyed my work and felt I was making a contribution to my community. I don’t regret it.

In 2023, I became unemployed thanks to being placed so low down on the list, and lack of participation from the community I had worked for in the elections. But I guess that’s life. Then came the next disappointment. The university didn’t honour  their obligation to reincorporate me. The only comment I got from them was ‘But you’re 65’. I knew that already.

Getting registered as ‘unemployed’ was no simple task, but I got there only to be met with the next surprise. “You were only working part time, so you only get 50% of the unemployment benefit.” I didn’t matter that I probably earned and contributed twice what the average waiter did, my benefit was 500€ net per month. It is below the minimum living income specified by the Spanish Government. I suppose the final blow came when the government in Mijas changed and the promises made to include me in a non-political post didn’t happen, but I was getting used to this by now.

People may think I have been pushing my new books hard with launches and signings, but it the only additional source of income we have right now, despite both of us applying for every job from Copywriter to Toilet Cleaner. But I am 65, after all!  It’s the first time in my life that I have come to acknowledge that at my age ‘Old = Obsolete’.  I don’t want this to sound pathetic, but it is a reality of Spanish life, and no, you can’t live on the Costa del Sol on 500€ a month.

Some people have, in a well meaning way, said that they don’t see us round and about as much as they used to. It’s true; partly because I have written 4 books in the last 6 months, and partly because you can’t spend  15€ on  breakfast when that could feed us for 2 days at home.

So, if anyone is looking for a retired Chief Executive, former government adviser, and ex politician, let me know. I may be getting old, but I’m not yet obsolete.


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