Britons still rushing to buy European real estate

Published:  31 Aug at 6 PM
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Although there’s still no certainty about UK expats’ rights post-Brexit, increasing numbers of disenchanted Brits are opting to leave now and take their chances in Europe.

Rather than the expected post-referendum fall in the numbers of Brits moving to European Union member states, there’s a rush to emigrate before the UK leaves the EU. It’s a ‘it’s now or never’ moment, based on hopes that their new country of residence will take pity on its expats and allow them at least to stay where they are rather than being forced to slink back to the UK. Reports are even coming in that would-be expatriates are retiring early in order to leave before the dreaded date of March 2019.

Founding member of Expat Citizens Rights in EU Roger Boaden has revealed a rise in British purchases of French real estate, with chair of Bremain in Spain Sue Wilson agreeing that those who’ve long dreamed of a Spanish retirement are now eager to get there whilst they still can. The crux of the matter is that free movement is still in place, allowing British citizens to get up and go to wherever they please in the EU. Whether they will be able, or even allowed, to stay doesn’t see, to be an issue at the present time.

Experts are in agreement that the rush to leave is based on present-day reality, as the move is sure to become more tricky for older people, especially retirees with health problems. According to John Springford from the Centre for European Reform, Spain in particular may be reluctant to take on the responsibility of caring for those unlikely to be able to care for themselves in the long run. The solution, which seems not to have occurred to Britain’s negotiating team, is reciprocity expressed in a mutually beneficial agreement covering both UK pensioners and EU citizens working and living in Britain.

Springford believes there can be no retirement rights without a commitment to free movement, with his statement backed by Oxford University senior researcher and assistant professor Carlos Vargas Silva. Unfortunately, Silva also believes the EU would not take kindly to a reciprocal agreement between Spain and the UK, meaning an end to the ‘golden age of Brit retirees in the Costas’. In the meantime, would-be expats will, no doubt, continue to leave the UK in an optimistic frenzy – and who can blame them?
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