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“Thirty years ago there were just a few trees here,” says Houliston, who spent 10 years in the diplomatic service and a further three decades in the European Commission before retiring here with his Spanish wife, Isabel. “Now there are 30,000 people living here. It’s been a very radical change.”

Benidorm, further north along the coast, may be the most famously transformed fishing village in the world, but it is mainly a tourist destination, while Orihuela Costa caters for those seeking, in a phrase used unselfconsciously by local estate agents, to “live the dream”.


Economic crisis: The pain in Spain | World news | The Observer.

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