Last updated: 9 October 2017
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"For those retiring abroad, there are a number of options available to maximise your existing UK pension oversees."
Whether you want to spend your retirement enjoying sunnier weather, fulfilling a desire to join other family members who’ve already moved overseas, or see retirement as the chance to start a new adventure, exploring new places and experiencing new hobbies or interests.
In order to have a successful retirement relocation, there are some crucial things to research and consider before you set off to enjoy your twilight years overseas.
Research - Time is a luxury that many people don’t have in abundance when it comes to relocating, but the more time you can put aside to do some research, the better. Whilst the thought might be off-putting, it will pay dividends later on and help you to avoid mistakes.
Property in the UK - If you decide to keep your property in the UK and it is going to be empty or rented out; you will need to let your mortgage lender and insurance providers know. You would also need to declare any income from rent to HM Revenue & Customs.
Informing institutions - Your local Council’s council tax department and electoral registration unit will need to know when you are leaving and a forwarding address. You will also need to inform banks, building societies or any financial institution that you have a policy or agreement with that you are moving abroad.
Pensions and Finances - It is important to know that you will be comfortable financially in your retirement. Pensioners that retire abroad will need to manage their finances in order to maintain the desired standard of living. Before you go you will need to check the status of any funds from pensions, whether you will still be able to access them in the county that you are retiring to, and whether you will benefit from any incremental increases to UK pensions. For those retiring abroad, there are a number of options available to maximise your existing UK pension oversees. A financial adviser would be able to advise on what the best course of action would be. Seeking financial advice is incredibly important as there are a number of financial products and pensions schemes available to expatriate retirees that you might not otherwise be aware of.
Tax - Different countries have different laws and taxes on property and income. To avoid any financial surprises, you should get detailed financial advice, so that you fully understand your tax obligations to both the country that you are leaving and the country that you are repatriating to.
Health - It is important to find out about your health and welfare rights 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. You should also find out about healthcare costs in the country you want to move to and take out health insurance if appropriate to cover private medical and dental treatment, as well as medical repatriation to the UK.
Finding local places of interest - Locating places in advance that you will need to visit once you have arrived, such as a supermarket, can be a great time and stress saver. It would be worthwhile marking them on a map so that you can find your way around when you’re out and about.
Learn about your new country - It is perfectly natural to experience culture shock when you arrive so it can be very beneficial to prepare yourself for those differences. You may think that some countries have similar cultures to the UK, but that doesn’t mean you won’t feel the effects of culture shock.
Explore - Once you are over the jet lag, you will undoubtedly be excited and full of enthusiasm about your new destination. You really should harness this energy as much as possible - now is the time to get your map out and explore the local area
Finding the perfect pad - You will feel more settled if you have somewhere to call your own, but that doesn’t mean you need to buy a house! Simply find somewhere that you can use as a permanent base rather than relying on a hotel.
Don’t let distance keep you apart - Keeping in touch with loved ones back home can help to reduce the feeling of homesickness. Nowadays, there is a wide variety of low cost, quick and user-friendly ways to maintain contact.
Join expat groups - Investigate local expat groups and, when you arrive, make an effort to join as many as possible. The members of these groups can be a vital source of encouragement, practical assistance and information to help you settle in.
Make it work for you - Simply put, there is nothing quite like research to set your relocation in the right direction; seek as much assistance as you can to help to ease the burden and get your friends and family involved in the process – they will be more than happy to help you get the best start you can.