Carry on Abroad

Is it me, or is eating your lunch in the garden in February a weird, albeit pleasant, experience? We’ve had such freakishly nice weather that I’ve been able to do exactly that, which is completely unnatural for this time of year and, presumably, a product of global warming. The only thing that is certain in the UK is that the sunshine won’t last! And as my month of trying to live as a pensioner draws to a close, it’s got me thinking about retiring abroad. Apparently 1 million retired Brits live abroad, and this is forecast to rise to 5 million by 2020.

Now, I’m not a great traveller. Frankly it’s down to my genes. The Terretts have never been an adventurous lot. My Dad had his family tree done a few years ago and was disappointed to discover that from about 1700 onwards the Terretts, obviously a boring lot, barely ventured out of Bermondsey and that he was the first to make it…tad ah…across the Thames! To his credit he has now got as far as Ireland, which is probably as exotic as Costa Rica for a Terrett…

As for me, I don’t like really hot weather and I don’t tan. But the cost of being a pensioner in the UK, not to mention the winter gloom, is enough to get anybody dreaming of foreign parts.

Spain has long been popular, with 55,000 Brits receiving their basic pension abroad. But as living costs there and across EU member states rise, some are going as far afield as South-East Asia and Central America because of the good weather and low cost of living. One website I found urges Europeans to retire to the Philippines and Thailand because they have ‘almost no winter at all’, expats can live cheaply and the people are friendly. You can forget worrying about your winter fuel bill and if you’re an Asian food junkie, the added bonus could be the cuisine. Apparently many Americans are similarly retiring to Mexico, not only because living costs are lower but also because they have confidence in the healthcare system, as many Mexican doctors speak English and trained in the US. Dubai is another popular option due to favourable tax and property regulations.

But it’s not an easy decision to up sticks. What happens if you find you hate it and have to return to the UK? Healthcare could be an issue if you have longstanding health problems, and if you don’t speak the language it could be a huge barrier. Another downside is that your pension and savings will be subject to currency fluctuations. Plus there are tax implications. If you’re not careful you could end up paying double tax on your income and if you die without a will in your new country it could make things complicated for your relatives.

My aunt – on my mother’s side which is more adventurous – recently retired to France. But she recommends people wanting to save money spend three months of the year –the winter months – abroad instead of moving lock stock and barrel abroad. “Don’t retire abroad to save money because the amount of money you have depends on currency rates,” she tells me. “There are big complications to do with taxes, which in France, are in a state of flux, as no one knows precisely what will happen with President Sarcozy’s reforms. What you could do is negotiate a price to live somewhere warmer for the winter months, in rental accommodation normally more popular in the summer. If you stay less than three months there will be no tax catch and you would save on heating.”

Surprisingly, considering how often we all moan about boring old repeats, she misses British TV! “One of the inestimable pleasures of British life is the quality of our TV,” she says. “No one tells you that everyone in France has to pay a sort of TV licence fee in their yearly Taxe d’Habitation and tele is poor value with all the American series dubbed, as in Spain. When being frugal in Britain, factor in the entertainment value of British radio and television for the dark gloomy winter months. You could not know how good they are until they are not there.” Dear oh dear! Never thought I should be grateful for daily reruns of The Fall Guy on Freeview!

Have you retired abroad? What was your experience? Did you save money or lose out?

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19 Responses to Carry on Abroad

  1. jason says:

    porridge and country walks are frugal and FABO

  2. Christine says:

    You need money to go abroad for part of the year on a pension. If you are at the lower end of the scale – pension and pension credit – you really have no chance of taking three months abroad unless you have family who can put you up and pay for your travel. To move abroad you need to have the capital to acquire a home and again if you are at the lower end of the scale – pension and pension credit – you have no chance of doing so. It\’s more of a way of life for those who have come from a job where they have final salary pensions that are related to a good job in the past. Your aunt is a very good adviser I would say.  I\’m with Jason on this one – porridge and country walks are frugal. He sounds a solid sort of sensible bloke. You should remember his advice.  Erm what happened to your adventures with the budget? You haven\’t mentioned them for a bit. Are you keeping something secret.

  3. Christine says:

    Well you have been noticed – http://www.linkfifty.com/index.php?page=forum&section=topic&top_id=101592 – isn\’t that nice and on an older people\’s forum too.

  4. Sandra says:

    In most of Europe you can get TV through the satellite systems and you can see most English TV channels. We have this at our lovely villa in Spain which we bought through a very helpful property company and they sorted all this TV stuff out for us. Their web site is http://www.globalpropertyservice.co.uk and they are more than helpful. As for the expense of living abroad – community charge at only €200 per year compared to £200 per month here (and they empty your rubbish bin once a day and look after our community swimming pool for this money!) and no heating bills  – who said it was cheaper to live here?  

  5. Sylvia says:

    I do live in Spain and I agree with Christine\’s comments, you do need money to live abroad.  It is no use coming here thinking you can get a job, they are almost none existent unless you are fluent in the language and then you will probably only get bar work, and you will find that a lot of bars in the off season close for a few months.  If you think you can run a bar, they are ten a penny and are all vying for business.  Every year several bars go out of bust due to lack of customers.  Thinking of starting a business, you will have to come up with something different, mobile hairdressers, nail technicians etc… got more than they can cope with.  Unless you have a basic knowledge of the language, forget it, why should the Spanish speak English, you are in their country.  Translators aren\’t provided, as a matter of course, in hospitals or medical centres.  Private healthcare is cheap, compared to England, until you make a claim and then your premiums go up year on year.  The only when to get on to their \’NHS\’ is to work and pay into the system, so it\’s a catch 22.  It\’s not all sun sea and sangria, you don\’t sunbathe all the time it\’s too dangerous, you don\’t booze all the time too easy to become an alcoholic at these prices.  It is a great life if you can afford it.

  6. andrew says:

    I retired to manila in the philippines about two years ago at the ripe old age of 39 so probably dont have the same health issues as many however one ting that people seem to miss is that excellent quality medical care is not hard to find in mnay coutries and health insurance in these coutries is not expensive so I think in many ways the health issue is none issue!  As for the cost of living things were i am are very cheap the majority of people here live on about 150 to 200 pounds per month so if you have 500 plus living is very good, food is cheap, utility bills are also  cheap so given these things living here is a great move financialy.  I think the hardest part of any move is gettign used to the local culture which is alwasy different from the uk and it does take some gettign used to if you are the type of person who alowasys wants thinsg jusy like the uk then my advice is stay in the uk you will be hammered with tax, expensive cost of living but you will get the culture you want!
    To close my general advice is to come try these places first spend a few months to get the proper feel if it but if you like it the weather is excellent and the living standard you can have is a hugh increase on what you get in the uk!
     

  7. peter says:

    MY   NAME   IS PETER
                                  I MOVED TO SPAIN  OVER 5 YEAR S AGO  I WOULD NEVER GO BACK TO THE  UK  TO LIVE .. WHEN WE FIRST MOVED HERE  WE BOUGHT A HOUSE  BUT   IT WAS IN A HOILIDAY   RENTAL  AREA    NOT A VERY GOOD  IDEAR  .. WE HAD SO MUCH TROUBLE  WITH FIGHTS ..  DRUNK S .. AND BREAK  IN s
                                                                                    SO   WE SOLD    AND NOW I JUST RENT  AS IM 71 THIS YEAR  AND WHEN  I DIE   I DONT THINK THE WIFE WILL STAY  HERE , SO  THERE WILL BE NO HOUSE TO SELL  JUST PACK THE THINGS SHE WANT   AND GO BACK TO THE UK .
                                          MY ADDVICE  TO ANY ONE THINKING OF MOVEING ABOARD  IS … DONT BUY   RENT  IF U DONT LIKE IT WHERE U ARE U CAN MOVE ON .. OR   COME OVER  AND LIVE HERE FOR 3 TO SIX MONTHS  IF U DONT LIKE  U CAN STILL GO BACK TO THE UK    BUT AT LEAST  U HAVE TRYD IT .
                                                                              TO   BE HONEST   ITS NOT EVERY ONE CUP OF TEA  BUT IT IS FOR US  IM RETIRED   I DONT NEED WORK ..  AND AS FOR MEDICAL  IF YOUR OVER 65  ITS FREE ANY WAY  I HAD A CATERAK DONE  .. BE CAUSE  IT WASNT DONE  WITH IN 3 MONTHS   THEY SENT ME PRIVATE  DONE AND DUSTED  IN FOUR   .. HOW LONG WOULD U HAVE TO WAIT IN THE UK ..IM  SO A SHAMED TO SAY IT   BUT ENGLAND  GOING BACKWARDS   ITS GONE TO THE DOG S …

  8. Ivan says:

    Hi,
     
    My name is Ivan…I am now retired and spend much of my time in Mumbai, India. Although food, travel etc. is relatively cheap…the cost of renting/buying a place can be very high (especially in large cities like Mumbai) ….also the cost of medical care could be prohibitive if you go into a decent private hospital….
     
    And your money is subject to currency fluctuiations…sometimes you get nasty shocks with the exchange rates…
     
    Otherwise…weather is great…people are friendly etc….lots to do and see in India…it\’s great….
     
    I recommend a stay of about 6 months a year here…..
     
    It is not easy to adapt to other countries and cultures so…think carefully…especially if you have not spent a long time in the country of your choice!
     
    Best of luck….!!

  9. Unknown says:

    I\’m Jack
          I now live in Thailand. I am a widower,living on a pension, living a much improved life from the one i had in the uk.The sun shines every day (it cuts down heating bills) it is also better for my health.I exercise by swimming in a warm swimming pool every day. The cost of living is also much cheaper.

  10. Joan says:

    We retired to Cyprus.The best thing we ever did.Am fed up with reading how England is going down hill and prices are going up and up.With the help of the weather we have better health here and a Government that governs and doesnt tell you how much salt to put on your food or that you are too fat or your children are too fat.The people are friendly and honest.We see building materials left unattended knowing full well if it was in UK they would be gone in a flash,keys left in locks,cars left unlocked just like it used to be in UK when we were young and best of all to me,we drive on the left as in UK!!

  11. keith says:

    hi, my name is annette,  i retired to spain 7 years ago and at first loved it.  then found the cost of living getting expensive, and also didn t like the problems that were arising with illegal building, so i moved to Hungary.  i absolutely love it.  short cold winters yes. but blue sky,  warm springs and autumns  long hot summers.  Very peaceful if you like it that way, but plenty top do if you dont. highly recommended.

  12. piper says:

    Wow – thanks for all the fascinating comments guys.  Really interesting to hear all your experiences.  Retiring abroad sounds great but sounds like you really have to do your homework.  Feel like going on holiday now!
     
    Thanks for spreading the word Christine.

  13. richard says:

     
    If you like the quiet life like i do,  retire to Patagonia Argentina. The open spaces the pace of life, the peso at the moment is very favorable, and all i have here is my faithful plastics and live like a lord.

  14. Elita says:

    I have a place in Cyprus – my annual council tax is about the same as the monthly cost in UK.And the bins in my area get emptied every two days during summer, weekly in winter.

  15. Unknown says:

    Ive live in Spain and every coment made is valid,  I endorse the advice \’ dont buy- rent \’. The majority of ex pats live on an urbanization, this means that you are at the mercy of the  \’President \’ for that urbanisation. The President is elected every year by the other residents and wields absolute power over what happens in the urbanisation, what is spent, and even what you can do to your own home. Dont think that Spain is waiting at the airport to greet you with open arms when you arrive because it wont be, you will be treated with almost contempt in some instances, Spain can be quite racist at times as our Formula 1 racing driver found out recently, A lot of Spaniards think that Spain ends south of Madrid and everything below this line is Africa, awash with Arabs and Gipsies, the Spanish have a lot of contempt for the Northern Europeans that now live in Spain and especially the British, but they lose sight of the fact that without the money that Northern Europeans bring into Spain the Spanish would still be riding around on donkeys instead of fancy motorcars. I could go on but whats the point?  life is what you make it. Let me emphisise the point dont buy, RENT, try living in an area for a while and see what its like, if you dont like it or find that you are being screwed by the President of your urbanisation or your neighbours you can move on in a matter of weeks, you cant if you have purchased the house and are up to your armpits in debt. I enjoy my time in Spain but there are many nightmares to look out for.

  16. Joseph says:

    As long as you have the internet you can now get a good range of programs from the BBC with their new i player!

  17. rich says:

    My Wife and i retired to Mallorca last year and i am only 36!!! what a great life, you never feel threatened, people actually say good morning to you as you walk past them, every month or so there is a festival with food music and everyone enjoying themselves, and if you think you will miss your english tv think again as you can either take your sky box with you all you need is a bigger satelite dish or coming soon is freesat which is basically the same as freeviev but it is being broadcast from a european satelite so avaliable for everyone throughout europe. the advice about watching a good range of programs through bbc iplayer is wrong as it can only be viewed in the uk…. my advice to anyone thinking of moving abroad is to not buy at first but rent as you can then decide what area is right for you etc etc…..

  18. isabel says:

    Well, I am a spaniard and feeling a little disturbed by some of the comments made here.  I have travelled extensively and been an expat for half of my life (and I\’m only 30!), lived in UK amongst other places, my husband is french, been living in the ME for the last five years, currently based in Cairo, and let me tell you something:  there is no place like home.
     
    As a rule of thumb, wherever you are  you must learn the local language or you will never adapt to the place you have moved to. That, of course, it is hard and the older you are the harder it gets, so I cannot even begin to imagine the amount of will power  that it  takes for a pensioner to learn an enterely new language. Problem with  many brits is that they expect everybody to speak english and tend to blame the host culture when communication becomes an issue.  
     
    As for Spanish being racist, well, yes I am sure some are…There is racism everywhere and it is a sad thing but it is also human nature to feel uneasy towards those who are different from us. From my own experience, I am confident that, generally speaking, Spanish are less racist that other nationalities.  I suspect though, that much of the rejection that "noname" has encountered is a result of  his  own attidute rather than a racist host culture… After all he is the one who thinks we would still be riding donkeys!. I can see why Spaniards are not greeting him with open arms, as he comes across as one obnoxious retired pensioner.
     
    On a different note, I am from Madrid and I cannot, for the life of me, understand the following comment:"A lot of Spaniards think that Spain ends south of Madrid and everything below this line is Africa, awash with Arabs and Gipsies". What is that supposed to mean?
     
    I would encourage anyone to buy versus  renting but it requires  homework and lots of research, and don\’t be fooled by a glossy catalogue.
     
    As for the tv, is it really so important?
     
     
     

  19. rich says:

    Dear Donkey rider,,, ??? can i just say i agree with you completely i have found spanish people to be extremely friendly, and making the effort to learn the language will make life sooo much easier for you as it would in any country,,,,, we go to spanish classes once a week and use our spare time to improve our spanish and to be honest i would be ashamed of myself if i did`nt make the effort… unfortuniatley idiots like (no name) need to learn that if you are going to make the move to another country you have to work at it, a little effort goes a long way…..

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