Moving abroad in retirement
Many people dream of moving abroad after they retire. However, moving abroad is a big step, and there are lots of things you should consider first, especially when it comes to your finances.
- Which country should I move to?
- What happens to my pension and benefits if I move abroad?
- Will I need to pay tax if I move abroad?
- Can I still vote if I move abroad?
- What happens to my will if I move abroad?
- Will I have the same health and care available to me while I’m abroad?
- What should I do next?
Which country should I move to?
With so many choices, finding a country and area to settle in can be difficult. Here are some steps to help you narrow down your search.
Step 1: Do your research. Try to find out as much as possible about the country you plan to live in, so you can be sure the culture and lifestyle will suit you. When looking at your finances, plan for the future and consider how you would cope with any unforeseen costs.
Think about these questions:
- Will you need to learn a new language?
- What are the average living costs?
- What are the healthcare services like and how much do they cost?
- Will you be able to travel back easily to see friends or family if you want to?
- Will you have to apply for a local driving licence or re-take your driving test?
- If you have any pets, will you be able to take them with you?
Step 2: Think about where you will live. Before committing to an area, consider renting a property first. This will help you see what daily life is like at different times of the year.
If you decide to buy a property, think about these questions:
- Are there local amenities within easy walking distance?
- Are there good public transport links nearby?
- Will you have any neighbours? They are often a vital source of support.
- Will the property be easy to maintain or adapt if your needs and abilities change over the years?
- Do properties in the area sell quickly and easily?
Step 3: If you decide to go ahead and buy a property, speak to an independent legal advisor and understand local inheritance laws.
What happens to my pension and benefits if I move abroad?
Most people who retire have 2 types of income:
- the UK State Pension
- a workplace or personal pension scheme.
You can get your State Pension in any country in the world, but you must tell the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) of your move. Depending on which country you move to, your pension may be frozen at a certain rate or linked to the cost-of-living.
Your work or personal pension scheme may have a different arrangement. Contact your pension provider for specific information about moving abroad.
The local exchange rate will affect how much pension you actually receive. Pensions will be paid in pound sterling and then converted to the local currency. This is important to consider because your income may go up and down.
Very few benefits are available while you’re living outside the UK, as it can be hard to meet the criteria for receiving them. For example, Pension Credit will stop if you move overseas. But some benefits are still claimable, depending on the country you move to.
Will I need to pay tax if I move abroad?
Tax laws vary from country to country and you need to get clear, professional advice. Even though you may be living in another country, you may still need to pay UK tax.
Can I still vote if I move abroad?
You can keep your right to vote in general and EU elections for 15 years after leaving the UK. This may give you the opportunity to influence the level of support and services offered to UK nationals abroad.
What happens to my will if I move abroad?
A will made in the UK may not deal with assets in a different country in the way that you wish. This is because of the different local laws. It’s important to make a will in each of the countries where you have assets.
Will I have the same health and care available to me while I’m abroad?
Find out what health and care is available in the country you want to move to. It is probably quite different to what you can receive in England. In many countries, there will be some costs involved in health care and you may need to pay a proportion of the total cost or the full cost of some treatments. The costs of medication could be high, so you may want to look into health insurance.
Healthcare rights may be the same as the UK if the country has a special relationship with the UK. The DWP can give you more information.
You shouldn’t assume that when you need health care you can return to England for treatment. If you’re not living in England, you’ll only be able to access emergency care – but you may be too unwell to travel to receive it.
What should I do next?
For more information call Age UK on 0800 055 6112