There are plenty of fabulous things about Gibraltar, but there are admittedly also a number of factors that give people pause. For most people, this essentially comes down to two things: the cost of living and the population density. There’s no doubt about it – Gibraltar is both crowded and expensive. However, this little British Overseas Territory at the tip of the Iberian Peninsula has so much to offer that many people consider it the best place to be an expat. Here’s why.Cultural diversity
Gibraltar is a British Overseas Territory that shares a border with Spain. That alone is an interesting combination, but there’s plenty more. The British influence is probably the most prominent – the double deckers, the red telephone booths and letter boxes, the British style pubs and tea rooms, and plenty more. But the Spanish influence is clearly present too, in the cuisine, in certain customs, and probably most noticeably in the language – English is the official language in Gibraltar, but Spanish is also widely spoken, and there’s also the unique local language, Llanito, a mixture of English and Spanish along with several other elements.
Then there are the expats from all over the world – from other European countries, from Morocco and the rest of Africa, and a substantial population from Asia. There’s such a wide variety of people and cultures, and all this in a place with practically no conflict.
Beauty and heritage
For a territory that’s only 6.8 square kilometers in area with a population of around 30,000 people, Gibraltar is surprisingly beautiful. There are several beaches along the coast, some busy and crowded and others quieter and more charming; there’s the Rock itself; the stunning views of both Africa and Spain across the ocean at certain points; and St Michael’s Caves, with spectacular stalagmites and stalactites, an underground lake, and, every now and then, an underground concert. What many expats love most about Gibraltar is the fact that the startlingly blue sea is never far from you and is almost always visible, no matter where you are.
Gibraltar’s rich history also means that every marvelous sight has a fascinating story attached to it. This applies to the natural beauty as well as the man-made structures. St Michael’s Caves, for example, have been occupied for thousands of years, were thought to extend to hell, and were later used as a recreational spot by the Victorians, long before our contemporaries decided to have concerts and parties down there. There are monuments and other historic structures all over the place, from the Moorish bathhouses and the Moorish Castle to Nelson’s statue to the Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim mosque at Europa Point to the Gibraltar museum itself. There are the tunnels of Gibraltar – 34 miles of tunnels, constructed over 200 years, able to hold 16,000 soldiers and their supplies, and now partly open to the public. Don’t let anyone tell you there’s nothing to see and do in Gibraltar.
Economy and infrastructure
While Gibraltar isn’t exactly the tax haven that many people mistakenly believe it is, there are certainly benefits to being an expat here. It is certainly expensive, but for people in certain industries and sectors, Gibraltar is a great place to be. In particular, Gibraltar thrives as a financial center and as a hub for online gaming. Tourism of course is a major industry here, and the shipping industry is also doing well. The Territory has excellent healthcare and education facilities, and transport isn’t a problem either. Of course part of the reason why transport isn’t a problem is that Gibraltar is so small and it’s possible to walk almost everywhere. But the fact that most things, at least on a daily basis, are within walking distance only adds to its charm.
And a few bonuses
There is of course the great weather in Gibraltar – hot summers and mild winters. For many expats, weather is an important consideration, and Gibraltar has exactly the weather they’re looking for. Safety is another important consideration, and crime here is extremely low. Violent crime is almost non-existent, and burglaries and other property-related crimes are also infrequent; the main problem is petty crime, such as thefts of bags and wallets on the street.
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