More and more people these days are reaching retirement age and then heading out of the UK and towards the sunshine in warmer climes. It’s no longer an option that’s only available to the wealthy – nowadays, especially if you have a decent pension package, it can actually make sense to move abroad.
Several European countries enjoy a lower cost of living than we do here in the UK, and even if property and living costs are similar, just moving somewhere warmer where you’re unlikely to experience crippling heating bills in the winter can mean that your pension goes a lot further than it would at home.
The past few winters in the UK have been particularly harsh bringing problems for everybody. However, for the elderly, who are usually at home for most of the day, the need to keep the heating high has led to increasing worry over utilities bills.
Although the government does what it can and ensures that people born before 1951 are entitled to lump sum Cold Weather Payments, pensioners are still finding it hard to pay the bills, and many are scrimping on electricity costs by staying in one place wrapped in a blanket in order to avoid turning up the heating.
Members of the older generation are usually more careful with money and will often suffer the cold rather than pay the increased heating costs.
The prospect of moving to a warmer country with milder winters becomes more of an attractive option and this is something that has become affordable for people from all income streams and from all walks of life. People these days are actually living longer and the prospect of beginning a new life in a new country can be an exciting option for the adventurous retirees of today.
The number of UK pensioners who live abroad has risen from 252,000 in 1981 to over a million by 2006 and, if the Foreign Office is to be believed, 38 per cent of over 55’s are planning to leave for sunnier shores in the next few years.
If you are planning to retire abroad, you will need to think very carefully about how you receive your pension and how far it will go in your country of choice. You will need to find somewhere to live (if you haven’t already bought a holiday home abroad that you plan to use on retirement) and make sure that the choice you’ve made is the right one for you.
Make sure that you’re fully aware of important services like health care, get to know whether the transport services will be suitable and, if you plan to make numerous visits home to visit family, you’ll need to make sure that you’re within easy reach of an airport (this will make your trips home cheaper than if you have to travel a long way to get a flight).
You will have to make sure that you have property insurance and that you can access your pension on a regular basis so that you have a steady cash flow with which to enjoy your new life.