Retiring abroad? Things to do before you make the move

Caroline Cassidy

After a lifetime of hard work, many Brits choose to spend their retirement in foreign climes. But starting a new life abroad is a big decision, and one that requires careful planning and preparation.

Retiring abroad
Retiring abroad

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If you are dreaming of setting up home in a foreign country, these are things you should consider.Do your research
Exciting though the thought of living abroad may be, it is important to be realistic about what life will be like. The chances are you will have at least holidayed in the country you plan on moving to, but it can pay to spend a little more time there, exploring the culture and lifestyle.

On holiday you might be able to get away with a phrase book, but if you are moving to an area without a big expat community, learning the language will enable you to communicate for essentials like paying bills, shopping or going to the doctor, and will help you make friends and settle in.

Other issues to consider are the local inheritance laws, healthcare facilities and costs as well as service charges or council tax equivalents that you will have to pay. Also think about the specific area you intend to move to, and how it might affect you should your circumstances change. A remote cottage halfway up a mountain might be wonderful right now, but if you or your partner were no longer able to drive, would you still be able to reach local amenities via public transport?

Last but by no means least, think seriously about leaving your loved ones. The property you buy abroad will likely be cheaper than property here in the UK, so if you have a change of heart, you could find it hard to get back into the British property market.

Buying property abroad
When it comes to buying your dream home abroad, make sure that you are dealing with officially registered and licensed professionals. If you are moving to an area that has a number of expats, you may well find an estate agent that speaks English, which will make the process as stress free as possible.

Back home, ensure you have a good lawyer, preferably one who speaks both languages. Rules and regulations abroad can be numerous and complex, so a solicitor who understands the process is ideal.

Before you move
With your exciting new life ahead, it's important to take care of business at the British end. You local council, benefits office and HMRC all need to know if you are moving abroad.
If you are claiming benefits, talk to the Jobcentre about whether you are eligible to continue collecting benefits while you are abroad. You can still claim a State Pension if you move to a foreign country, but it's an idea to contact the International Pension Centre for advice on how your pension might be affected.

Once everything is in order, all that's left to do is book those flights and jet off to a relaxed new life.

Have you retired abroad? What advice would you give to others considering moving to a foreign country? Leave your comments below...