Brit retirees gearing up to emigrate before Brexit

Published:  14 Aug at 6 PM
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In spite of the uncertainty of expat rights post-Brexit, UK retirees are queuing up to emigrate, with Spain, France and Portugal all favourite destinations. Financial advisers whose businesses serve would-be expats relocating to destinations within the European Union have seen a doubling of enquiries from British retirees over the past year and the number of those who went ahead with their emigration plans has increased by 25 per cent. The motivation behind the rush to leave would seem to be that, whatever the final Brexit deal contains, moving to Europe will certainly not be as straightforward as at the present time.

According to migration expert John Springford, research director at the Centre for European Reform, the golden age of Brit pensioners heading to Spain’s Costas has almost certainly passed. Springford quoted research showing expat retirees are expensive due to healthcare needs, whilst younger expats normally give an economic boost to their new countries. Spain, for example, he added, would not be willing to accept retirees and their health needs unless young Spaniards were allowed via free movement to take jobs in the UK.

Another expert, Oxford University Migration Centre's Carlos Vargas Silva, agrees that without free movement, there can be no retirement rights. A bilateral agreement might be possible, but would be unpopular with the EU. Some 300,000 Brits live in Spain, 40 per cent of whom are over 65 years of age. In France, 19 per cent of the 121,000 British residents are pensioners, whilst the combined total of retirees in Portugal, Cyprus and Malta is 33 per cent of the total British expat population in the three countries.

Jason Porter, business development director at expat-aimed financial and tax advisory firm Blevins Franks, believes a deal may well be struck as EU member states have benefitted considerably from expat retirees’ property purchases and day-to day spending for decades. Even so, he added, the race to beat the Brexit deadline is now on and will almost certainly continue. Expat campaigner groups have also seen a considerable increase in the numbers of those making the move in spite of possible problems ahead.
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