Retiring overseas is often seen as an attractive proposition, with the number of people leaving the UK to retire elsewhere increasing every year. It is often seen as the chance to start a new adventure: but, is it that easy?
One thing’s for sure: there are a number of crucial things to research when considering a move overseas. Rosie Rogers, Chief Operating Officer at reallymoving.com, talked to us about what her top tips would be for anyone moving abroad.
It’s essential to check the status of any pension funds you have and make sure you can access them in the country you intend to move to. There are a number of options for maximising your UK pension overseas and seeking financial advice concerning the different products and pensions schemes that are available is incredibly important.
If you’re permanently moving aboard you are entitled to your UK State pension and it will be paid in the local currency of the country you move to. However, the pension credit will stop and you’re only entitled to the annual increase if you live in:
- European Economic Area
- Gibraltar or Switzerland
- A country that has a social security agreement with the UK
If you retire elsewhere your State pension will not increase.
The International Pension Centre know (and the Northern Ireland Pension Centre if you’re from Northern Ireland) and HMRC should be contacted when you move to ensure the right amount of tax is paid. You should also let your pension scheme or provider know about your move if you have a workplace or personal pension, as some only pay into UK bank accounts. (You may incur additional charges for them to pay into an overseas account). It is also worth bearing in mind that the pension will be paid in pound sterling so you may be affected by fluctuations in exchange rates when you convert it to your local currency.
It is important to understand that some UK healthcare benefits do not apply outside of the UK, others only apply in the EU or in countries that have agreements with the UK. There are some countries where these benefits do not apply at all. It’s vital to check healthcare costs in the country you’re retiring to and to take out health insurance where appropriate.
If moving inside the EU, you will be given a European Health Insurance Card that provides you with state-provided healthcare free or at a reduced price. However, these cards are temporary and once you have become a resident you will not be able to use them. For healthcare cover in the EU you must also fill out a S1 form (previously known as E112 form).
Outside of the EU, however, you will require to take out private heath insurance otherwise you’ll need to pay any and all medical bills yourself. It is worth bearing in mind that international private medical insurance won’t cover you in the long-term, so having sufficient savings is incredibly important.
Before you move, all health practitioners you use (such as your GP and dentist) will need to be informed of your relocation.
As there are different laws and taxes on property and income for many different countries, it’s important to seek financial advice to ensure you avoid any surprises. You need to understand your tax obligations to both countries and be aware of any benefits of offshore banking whilst looking to reduce your tax liability.
Along with seeking independent financial advice, the HM Revenue & Customs could also be a great source of information and advice when it comes to UK tax, personal allowance and tax liability.
When it comes to property in the UK, you have a couple of options: leave it empty while you’re away, rent out your property while you’re away or sell your property. If you think renting it is the best option for you, you will need to let your mortgage lender know and declare any income to HM Revenue & Customs.
If you want to leave your property empty while living abroad, giving the Land Registry an address where you can be contacted abroad might be a good idea, as empty houses can become easy targets.
When selling your home and moving all your belongings there are a number of costs to factor in such as, shipping costs, import taxes if applicable, packaging materials and the overall costs of the moving company itself. According to reallymoving.com, moving the contents of a 3-bedroom house from Manchester to Alicante would cost £3,500 by road or sea.
You should also bear in mind the property laws of the country you intend to move to. Ensure that your agent is qualified and check what guarantees are in place before you sign anything. The guarantee will ensure that even if you lose some money you’ve got a much better chance of getting it back. It is property law for all developers to have a bank guarantee in place but unfortunately not all do.
Properties in the likes of Spain also inherit the debt of former owners. So if the previous owner of the property you’d like to buy didn’t pay community charges such as council tax you would then become liable for this debt.
Other tips to consider
- Research is vital so always ask for advice from specialists
- Investigate local expat groups; they can be a vital source of advice and information to help you settle in
- Always explore the local area before moving to ensure you’re happy to make it your home and once you have moved to give yourself a sense of where you are
- Check any pension and tax implications
- Take out medical insurance or fill in an S1 form
Rosie Rogers works for reallymoving.com, who provides assistance to thousands of movers each year to find the best quotes for a range of moving services, both domestic and abroad.