Retiring to the sun – what’s not to love? Expats relocating to the continent can enjoy a year-round warmer climate, a more relaxed way of life and in many popular destinations, significantly lower property prices. For the price of the average semi-detached home in the UK, you could easily find that idyllic Spanish villa complete with sea views and a swimming pool.
It isn’t always smooth sailing, of course. As with anything, there are some challenges to overcome when retiring abroad. To assist current expats and anyone thinking about making the move in the future, we’ve compiled a list of the main issues and problems that expats come across today – and how they deal with them.
Biggest issues for British expats
Undoubtedly one of the hardest parts of moving abroad is leaving behind your loves ones. Fortunately, modern advances in technology can help us to stay in touch, so do make the most of them. Phone calls just aren’t the same as seeing the faces of the people you love, and grandchildren are more likely to give you their attention if they can see you, so for regular catch-ups try the free video call app, Skype. To keep up-to-date with your friends and family, familiarise yourself with online social networks including Facebook and Twitter.
The big decision for expats is deciding where to move to. Spain is still the most popular destination for British expats to retire to, with promises of sun, sea, sand and tapas. France follows closely behind, with Brits lured over by its famous food and drink, historic towns, beautiful weather and of course its proximity to the UK. It’s wise to take a few holidays before making a decision to explore the regions and really get to know the areas you feel most drawn to. Consider, too, your attitude towards integration. Do you envision living among the locals, learning their language and embracing their culture? Or would you feel more comfortable heading for an expat community?
A major issue for expats is buying a property in the sun, without getting burnt. From historic chateaus tucked away in the French countryside, to the mountain-side villas of Spain with their dramatic sea views, properties on the continent can be truly magnificent. Remember though, these beautiful old properties often feature outdated plumbing and power supplies, and their crumbling walls can require expensive repairs. View potential homes with your eyes wide open, and be wary not to take on something that could prove too costly to update and maintain.
It can be hard to integrate into a local community when you don’t speak the language. The most obvious solution is to start learning the local language, it can be great fun and you might find it easier than you expect! Taking lessons a few months before you go to pick up the basics may help you to feel more confident about your move, too. If however, learning a new language would be daunting, then consider seeking out a British expat community, where you might feel more comfortable.
Integration is key to a successful move abroad. Unfortunately, many people spend most of the first few months after the move hidden away in their home. To give yourself the best chance of a happy transition, make sure you venture out every day (having a dog to walk is a great excuse for this!), introduce yourself to your new neighbours, find out about social events in your area and check where other expats meet up locally so you can go along.
From buying property abroad, paying taxes, getting to grips with healthcare provisions, vehicle licensing and voting, there are a host of new rules, processes and regulations you’ll need to fathom. Before purchasing a property abroad, find a good solicitor who specialises in that area. You should seek specialist advice about moving abroad and conduct your own research online as there will be a host of information available. Expat forums such as www. britsabroad.com can be particularly helpful.
It isn’t particularly pleasant to think about, but for those of us planning to live out our years in the sun, a time will inevitably come when we won’t be around any longer. There’s much to consider with regards to passing away abroad. Rising funeral costs, the language barrier and the intricacies of foreign funeral system can make it difficult for your loved ones to make funeral arrangements. Most funerals in Spain, for example, take place within 48 hours and have to be paid for in advance. Using the services of a specialist funeral plan provider is a sensible decision.
For British citizens living in Europe, preparing ahead with a funeral plan protects your loved ones from overpriced fees, extra costs and, of course, further heartbreak. For your convenience, Avalon Funeral Plans provide plans in Spain and the Canary Islands, Tenerife, Portugal and Cyprus, where funeral procedures are quite different to the UK's.
In these countries, most funerals take place within 48 hours. With so much for your nearest and dearest to organise when a loved one passes away abroad, the responsibilities can be overwhelming. Your funeral plan will prevent them from having to make difficult decisions or find the money for your funeral at such short notice, nor have to cope with the local funeral systems and the accompanying language barriers.
Speak to Avalon Funeral Plans on +34 965 021 640 or click here to find out more.