Changes to Village Life

We are so lucky to have some truly beautiful villages throughout the British Isles. Some completely off the beaten track nestling amongst idyllic and stunning scenery. Villages surrounded by hills, mountains, waterfalls and fields of waving corn. Many so picturesque and unspoiled coupled with active communities. Some proud of their own village crafts and aging traditions.

In many of these places village schools still exist often cultivating lifetime friendships for both pupils and parents alike. The community spirit has always been a primary factor of rural life, especially before the advent of so many cars and today this, I believe, is still so. Each village had at least one thriving village shop and of course a pub or an Inn. Both of these being vital to the community. Young and old alike would visit the shop, where as well as being able to buy local produce, villagers would meet for a chat. It was not only to shop but almost a social occasion. This was a great pleasure to elderly residents especially who never were able travel too far from the village. The pub of course would be a focal point for different activities as well as produce teams for different sports where villagers met to play in or support the local teams. There would always be at least one, two or three local farmers which supported the community supplying produce and even in severe weather farmers would help in keeping local roads clear. These farms have unfortunately all but disappeared.

So I guess it is a sad reflection of our times that over the last few years we have had to watch some of our villages come to a virtual standstill with the sad closure of village shops, Post Offices, pubs and of course the disappearance of the farms.

At the end of the day I am sure we can all take part of the blame for this. We are now all shopping at large supermarkets. Cars take us away from the village – we can travel anywhere. The World is now our oyster. It is so disconcerting to see our heritage sadly slipping away after centuries of village life as we know it.

Having said all this some through their own fantastic enterprise and strong community spirit have managed to survive so let us hope these continue to thrive.

The Large Village of Malpas, Cheshire

The large village of Malpas, Cheshire once used to be what is called a “market town” in England. It has a current population of around 1,700 people. Additionally, it lies on the border with the neighboring county of Shropshire and also with Wales. The village’s name comes from the Old French words “mal” and “passe, ” which together means “bad passage.”

The village has a long history, and though there were no known Roman settlements in the area, most scholars state that a long Roman road passes through the village on its way from the village of Tilston to the market town of Whitchurch. Scholars also believe that Malpas may have been what the Saxons of the day called a ‘burh, ‘ which was their name for a fortified town.

The first written notice of the village of Malpas is found in the 1086 property survey conducted by the Normans, and which is known as the Domesday Book. At that time, it was called Depenbech. In the Medieval era, Malpas came to be denoted as a market town, holding such an event on regular intervals. It continued to develop through the years, including during the Tudor reign of Henry VIII.

The region became caught up in the English Civil War in the 17th century. The village itself contributed a general who oversaw parliamentarian troops during the conflict, at the Battle of Nantwich in January of 1644. During the Second World War, Malpas saw to the needs of the troops of the exiled Czechoslovakian Army, who were bivouacked in a local park.

The northwestern England ceremonial county of Cheshire, in which Malpas resides, has a current population of around 1 million people. The county itself is mostly rural in nature, outside of certain large towns on the River Mersey and the city of Chester – which is also the county town. Both Malpas and Cheshire are great examples of classic English history.

Tax Haven Andorra Running Out Of Residency Places

In much of the developed world, including Europe, companies, corporations and business owners pay a good percentage of business and personal tax plus other contributions for their workforce to their national governments.

While they are active in business accountancy firms do their best to keep the tax bills to a minimum, but unless they physically relocate their offices and factories to countries like China and India they still have to hand over a hefty cheque to the government revenue department – no matter how good their accountants are, and much of the wealth they have created through entrepreneurship disappears forever.

The time that taxes can really hurt for many business owners is when they’re selling it to a new owner. For many after a lifetime of creating and then growing their company, many owners consider it unfair that they should hand between a quarter and a half of what they consider their pension to their government – after a lifetime of paying numerous taxes anyway along with a lot of paperwork keeping the government happy.

This is sometimes the moment of realisation that relocating to a tax haven could be a good move, especially if their financial advisers are on the ball and tell them just how much they are going to have to pay if they stay in their own country, and how little if they move to Monaco or Andorra for a few years.

Without doubt the tax haven most people have heard of is Monaco, while relatively few know about Andorra, but when accountants tell their clients that not only are the tax benefits the same but the cost of buying an apartment or a house often a quarter compared to Monaco real estate, Andorra then becomes more interesting, and their research on what Andorra has to offer apart from the financial advantages begins with a call to one of the estate agents who deal with Andorra property.

So far, so good. The downside is that in the next twelve months those considering residency might not be able to take it up at a time they choose as there are less than two hundred of the current five hundred batch granted by the country’s Parliament, and once they are exhausted there could be up to 12 months before the next batch is authorised, and for those needing a tax haven during that time Andorra won’t be an option if they want to include it among their options of where to move to, so it’s time to act to ensure availability.

In recent years Andorra has earned a reputation as being a serious location to consider for those who want a tax haven – it has a good environment to live in and for those who wanted to stay active in business this is perfectly possible as well. The telecommunications infrastructure with good high speed internet access, and the government has invested in other infrastructure such as the roads, and although small it can be viewed as a modern European State.

On the banking side, a full range of international services is offered, and the country uses the Euro. Included on what the banks offer is private banking with numbered accounts much like the Swiss model plus the standard domestic services you would expect from your home bank, often referred to as retail banking. There are branches in all the big towns and some of the villages, along with e-banking facilities. For those who want to buy a house or apartment mortgages are available subject to normal acceptance and the bank will issue a debit card that can be used worldwide including ATM’s.

When businessmen and women make the move and take residency, quite often they have family including school age children, and for the schools there is a first class private International one in La Massana, but also there are the local ones to choose from which have a reputation for excellence. The only fees for these ones are for the text books, but otherwise they are free of charge for residents children to attend. For further education most choose to go to either Barcelona or Toulouse, and most children leave school speaking English, French and Catalan, which gives them an immediate advantage for when they start going for job interviews, as the ability to speak different languages looks good to potential employers when browsing a CV.

For accommodation a range of houses, condos and townhouses are available to buy, part of the requirements for Andorra residency. Prices start for a two bedroom condo at 200,000 Euros for two bedrooms, but realistically for something good potential buyers should be budgeting for 350,000 Euros as a minimum. For a house 700,000 Euros and for a good four bedroom house with garaging between a million and a million and a half Euros.

The most popular area for those moving to the country is La Massana – it has a good array of shops, banks, offices, restaurants and bars, plus during the winter months for those who like their skiing, there is a cable car to the slopes in Arinsal from the main street. The most upmarket area of La Massana is Anyos – the Chelsea of Andorra!

If it all sounds good and worth exploring – remember there might not be much time left before the current residencies run out.