I thought this was a great question (asked on my Your questions about Gib page) and I couldn’t resist answering it. Now! Immediately! Even though the dog blog and 1001 things have priority. You can read the full question on the page, but otherwise, here are *some* answers.
So, first up, practical attractions.
1) Money, certainly. My partner can work here, although it seems my skills are not in demand. Because we live here, we do get a good tax code too.
2) As residents with one of us working, we are entitled to Gib health care. So beats paying for private health insurance.
3) Convenience. I love the fact that everything is within walking distance, the rates office is five minutes away, as is the water office, the tax office, the bank, the electricity. At the most, those essential places that you need to visit are ten minutes away.
It’s taken me the best part of half a day in Spain ie six hours, say from 8-2 approx, to get one appt sorted for the luz (electricity). Bus from village to luz office, queue for hours, and then wait for bus back. Easier with a vehicle yes, but that really starts to get to be a drag.
I’m not knocking the Spanish system, although I will sometimes, but the joy of being able to sort things relatively quickly is so refreshing after years of Spanish queuing and messing around for something simple.
4) You’ll (all) have worked out by now that I speak (read and write) Spanish, so that’s not an issue in Spain. But it is nice to have the security net of English being the official language here. I can still complain better in English than Spanish. My partner’s Spanish complaints invariably include the word coño! more than once.
5) Our vehicles (that we rarely use :D) are Gib-plated. No road tax. MOT once every two years for private vehicles, and once a year for commercial. Compare that with a six monthly ITV for a vehicle over ten years old in Spain and their whacky homolgation (?) rules. ITVs (a roadworthy/MOT) were one of the few times we felt victimised for being guiris. Obviously cheaper fuel than in Spain.
6) When we had all our possessions stolen in Spain from the vehicle, ID, passports, money etc etc, I filed the denuncio, we drove back down, and we were let back into Gib with nothing, but said denuncio, and, a Gib-plated vehicle. No passports for us or the dog. But, we were registered on their system and we lived here. In the following days we could have got a fast-track passport (different to the emergency one issued from consulates in Spain or wherever) or the usual two week one. That’s only available to Gib residents and cross-border workers AFAIK.
7) We don’t cross the border in the vehicle very often. As we have a van body, customs (Guarda Civil), nearly always stop us to see if it is piled high with tobacco, to peer inside only to see a large furry dog. It’s their job. I used to get freaked when we first got stopped, ‘Hey! I’m not a crim!’ – but I’m used to it now and have been for a few years. Oddly enough the other day, I was saying how bizarre it was that queuing to cross a frontier and be checked has become a normal part of life, that I still think is exotic and exciting.
We also time our crossings so that by and large we avoid lengthy queues.
Next up, less practical, or emotional or whatever
1) I’ve got a history degree, and the history of Gib just totally entrances me. I think it is fascinating. Such a small place has such an amazing past.
2) As above – sort of, but I like to see what is left and surviving, so I love all the old buildings, again in such a confined space. I hate most of the tat new crap. @ Paul – Not sure where you mean by old mil builidngs turned into flats? I had better post some photos of buildings you may not have seen?
3) It does have a safe feeling. Yes, there is crime, drugs, vandalism, smuggling. But a place where young people can wander around on the razzle in the small hours can’t be that bad. If you want to wander out in the middle of the night, you might meet a couple of people wandering home and maybe a police officer. You don’t worry about walking around narrow streets in the old town, wondering who is around the corner.
4) For me, I like some of the cultural stuff. This is partly because I am fortunate to live near the hall where lectures and rallies (political) are held. There is a decent library too. There are exhibitions. I don’t have to travel to a city – it is literally all on my doorstep.
5) I love the monos (monkeys) wandering around Main Street. I am still photographing them even now, years after we bought here. One of those novelty value things that hasn’t yet worn off, even though I do have to tell them to leave my shopping bags alone. Where else can you see monkeys on your next door neighbour’s balcony, or around the corner when you walk on the Calle Real (Main Street)?
6) I love the Rock itself. It is spectacular. Driving down the N340 – we always look for the first sight of ‘home’. Sometimes it rises out of the mist. Sometimes it looks like an island. I love (as my regular readers know), walking to the shops and looking up at the huge limestone, green-covered mass. I can see it from my flat window. I love the cloud over it.
7) I have botanical gardens five minutes away from me with specimens from all over the world.
8) I can see Africa, Spain, and I live in a British Overseas Territory. I can see the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, and the Straits of Gibraltar. I am within five minutes walk of the sea.
9) We are a multi-cultural mix. I like that we have people from so many countries living in a small space, that Gibraltarians have an amazing lineage from all over Europe and Africa, and that we get along.
10) I like celebrating National Day, and that in referendums, Gibraltarians want to retain their links with Britain.
I could go on. But that will do for now. I suppose now – someone will ask me what I don’t like about Gib? :D
Thanks to Paul for the question and distracting me from more boring things.