Moving abroad to take advantage of better weather, cheaper housing and more age friendly communities has been a great option. Although seen as a popular retiree decision, only around 20% of the 1.2 million UK citizens living abroad are retired.
Since Brexit and also Covid, the complications of living abroad have never been greater. A UK citizen can only spend 90 days in a period of 180 in a country without a visa. It is still possible to get visas and residency, but the bureaucracy is much greater so make sure you have thought about the various potential pitfalls.
One of the main reasons people want to move is around their lifestyle, being outdoors more, enjoying the food and culture of that place. IT may also give opportunities to earn money that are not possible in the UK. For retirees the more favourable attitude towards older people can also be a draw, with older people more revered and catered for in some foreign countries.
Reducing their outgoings with a lower mortgage and a cheaper running costs, which then allows for a better standard of living.
It is a cliche, but weather does play a part in people's move. Increased sun allows for more activity outside which contributes to a healthier and happier lifestyle. It also attracts family and friends to visit.
Visa, residency and tax requirements
After Brexit moving to Europe is no longer simple. You can only spend 90 days in any EU country out of 180 days. Therefore to live in an EU country you need to apply for a visa. Each country has different rules, which have been changing rapidly over the last year, complicated further by Covid. The majority of countries either need you to make a significant financial investment in property or businesses in that country or prove you have significant funds to live off, which may include private healthcare costs. Once you live permanently in that country with a visa you will need to pay taxes in that country, ensure there is a deal with that country whereby you do not get taxed twice from the UK government as well.
Once you have a visa for a number of years (usually a minimum of 5) you can then apply for residency, which usually requires you to have learnt the language.
Cost of living
The assumption that cost of living will be cheaper can be a false one. Restaurants and property may be cheaper, however electrical and household goods may be significantly more. Also check whether you need to pay for private health care, it is a prerequisite in most countries to obtain a visa.
In addition to costs you have to budget for, also look at how good the healthcare is in that country. The quality of healthcare varies greatly as does waiting times, and what is covered under your insurance.
When people move abroad they expect people to visit and this happens regularly in the first few years, but can tail off. Therefore look at how you can connect with people in your area to create new friendships.
Laws and rules can change
When moving abroad until you have fully fledged residency you are at the mercy of the laws at the time, they could well change making it impossible to get residency or they become too expensive. This is especially a risk if you have started a business or downsized considerably and then find it hard to move back to the UK. Properties, unless in cities or popular areas sell much slower than in the UK, factor this in if you need your investment to be liquid.
In addition to all the points above you need to also consider:
Find out how you can access your pension easily and in the currency you need.
Currency fluctuation and how it can impact your savings and pension
Whilst living in another country your pension may be a fixed amount in pound sterling and therefore if the currency fluctuates massively you may find you have far less to live on than you were expecting.
Making sure you can access the property easily and check it will be suitable as you get older including how the location will work in the different stages of your life, this will stop the need for moving multiple times.
If you become a resident or citizen in another country you will need a will in the country of origin to ensure it is legally binding.
Will this always be suitable as you reach your 80’s and beyond and if not what would be the next steps if you need looking after or a partner dies. Having those considerations before you move will give you reassurance that you have your bases covered.
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