Tips and Advice on Retiring Abroad

The dream of retiring abroad is about to unfold. You've planned carefully and done lots of research into the Country you would like to retire to before making the final decision.

Hopefully you've even spent some time there out of season to make sure it's where you want to live all year round.

When deciding on the financial issues of retiring abroad, don't forget to factor in major extras, such as flights home to visit friends and family.

Pensions and Benefits

Find out about your welfare rights in the country you are intending to move to; There is a lot of helpful information at Living Abroad. Some UK benefits are not payable outside the UK, others apply only in the EU or in countries which have agreements with the UK.

It's also wise to check out the tax rules in other countries. As many European countries struggle to manage deficits, they are introducing harsh new tax regimes which may affect you. The HM Revenue & Customs website has a section on retiring abroad.


Find out about healthcare costs in the country you want to move to. You will probably need to take out health insurance to cover private medical and dental treatment, as well as medical repatriation to the UK.

The NHS may not be perfect but it is universal and low cost (eg, a prescription), or free (eg, a doctor's visit) at the point of use. That may not be the case overseas.

Within the European Economic Area (EEA) you'll get free healthcare once you are receiving your state pension, but even then some countries charge for some or all of the cost of treatment.

Outside the EEA you will probably need insurance. This can get pricey – comprehensive private cover can cost more than £3,000 a year for a couple living in Europe, or more like £10,000 in America or Canada.


The beach may be lovely, but have you checked out the road and rail networks? How many airports are there and how close to one will you be living?

If you plan to own a car, do you have an International Driving Permit and is it valid for your chosen country?

Retiring Abroad - be prepared to learn the language!

Retiring abroad can be a bit of a culture shock if you're not prepared. Unless you are going to an english speaking country like, America, Canada, Australia or New Zealand, or spend all of your time with fellow Brits, you will need to at least learn the basics of the language.

Ideally you should do this before you go. You can then take further classes locally – a good way to meet people and make new contacts.

Before You Leave:

If you're retiring abroad but keeping a property in the U.K. before you leave remember to;

  • Advise your mortgage lender (if appropriate) and your insurance providers.
  • Consider how the property can be kept secure while you are away.
  • Advise the Land Registry that you're retiring abroad and give an address where you can be contacted abroad, as empty properties or those with tenants can be targeted by fraudsters.
  • Contact your local council - their Council Tax department and electoral registration unit will need to know when you are leaving and a forwarding address
  • Notify your utility companies that you are moving in order to get your final bills and provide a forwarding address for them to send you any outstanding payments or refunds.
  • Tell your bank, building society or any financial institution that you have a policy or agreement with that you are retiring abroad.
  • If you haven't already got one make your Will before you go.
  • Ensure your passport is valid and fill in the next-of-kin details on the back page - if your passport is about to expire renew before you leave, otherwise you will need to apply to the British Consulate to have it renewed in your new destination.
  • Keep your vote by registering in the UK as an overseas elector.
  • check the local traffic regulations of your destination - driving is permitted on a valid UK licence in EEA countries, although you may be required to exchange it for an EEA national licence once you have gained residence status. For non-EEA countries you will need to take an International Driving Permit (IDP), which must be obtained before you leave the UK.
  • Have your mail forwarded by asking for a re-direction form at a Post Office - allow enough time for this to be set up as it can take a few weeks.

What To Do When You Arrive In A New Country!

  • Register with the local authorities - this may give you access to the local welfare services after a short period of time, if you are in doubt then ask.
  • If you are moving to another European Economic Area country (EEA - is the European Union countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) you must apply for a residence permit within three months of arrival.
  • Register with the British Consulate, this will help the Consulate keep in touch with you if you get into difficulties.
  • Open a foreign bank account; in many countries your pension can be paid directly into your bank account there.
  • Make sure you are fully insured to drive and that your car complies to the regulations of that country.
  • To help you settle in, find out about British associations, clubs, publications and charity organisations for the expatriate English-speaking community - you can get contact lists from your local British Consulate.
  • Stay in touch - remember to give your family and friends in the UK your address abroad.

To read other articles related to your retirement lifestyle go to the links below:

return to Retirement Lifestyle

Do We Give up on the Dream to Retire Overseas?

Enjoying a Simple Retirement

Preparing for Retirement

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