Just Wanna Know

Revolutionary Propaganda Organ

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Marbella Better Not!

(Marbella is pronounced marbeyya)

As we were busing through this town in southern Spain along the Costa del Sol, I could only think of southern California or the West Austin hill country or any other beautiful, hilly, dry place with luxury condos along the tops of the hills, gleaming new boutiques and fire stations, and gigantic billboards that featured agents with huge smiles declaring themselves king of all residential and commercial real estate.

The signs were in English, a testament to the high cost of living and the low quality of health care back in the UK (as well as the bloody weather), which is driving British retirees south in droves.

The stampede has driven housing costs along this stretch up 10- and 20-fold over the past ten years. It's now so expensive in Marbeyya that middle-class retirees from the cold northern lands of Europe are setting their sights on Morocco, and specifically the north and the coasts (which don't have the harsh summers of the interior). Indeed, one real estate agent I spoke with is predicting that prices are going to skyrocket in Tangier over the next 10 years. (Hype alert!)

That scenario is actually related to one of the planks in the platform of the PJD, the Muslim-affiliated political party that's a frontrunner to win the 2007 parliamentary elections in Morocco. They want to encourage elder-tourism and retirement communities, rather than the current "(almost) anything goes" tourism of sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll that (opponents allege) the current government supports.

I don't see how huge numbers of elderly retirees will come here to live without a really top notch health care system in place (which I understand Spain has). But in its search for a panacea to Morocco's problems, the PJD would do well to remember that there are other ways evil can infest the heart of economic development. As those watching the news in Europe now know, Marbella's mighty have fallen, with the mayor and most of the city council under arrest by the Spanish government for corruption.

Their sin? Land speculation.

5 Comments:

At 10:49 PM, Blogger AWG said...

Land speculation? Sheesh!

 
At 11:03 AM, Blogger John Schaefer said...

Yeah, it's nuts. A house that cost $50,000 ten years ago is now going for $1 million. That's worse than California! I guess the former property owners all sold out and took off--I wonder what happens to the poor people who still live and work there (or even the middle class?)...

 
At 2:17 PM, Blogger Jamie Brandon said...

mmmmmm.....Northwest Arkansas, Austin Texas, and Morocco...It seems that skyrocketing land values, unchecked development and mass upper-middle-class migration follow Yahya around...or is he somehow involved in the global development conspiracy?!?!

 
At 11:30 AM, Blogger John Schaefer said...

No, you got me! Leftist firebrand by day, currency and real estate speculator by night...

 
At 11:32 AM, Blogger John Schaefer said...

Of course it's Swedenburg you really need to be watching--he also got in the Pacific Northwest right before grunge, starbucks, and microsoft...

 

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