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Is living abroad all it is cracked up to be ?

(105 Posts)
NanKate Sun 11-Aug-19 14:54:15

My sister went to live in Italy in her late 20s she loved it at first but now would do anything to come back but can’t afford it.

Friends moved to southern Spain about 11 years ago and seem very happy but what happens when one of them dies I wonder ? They visit their family in the U.K. regularly. Does being with an ex-pat community lose it’s attraction when on your own?

I would never consider living abroad as I am a real home bird.

Framilode Tue 13-Aug-19 06:51:19

Grannyjay We paid into the system all our working lives. Apart from pensions we received no benefits from Britain during the time we lived abroad but continued to pay British income tax as well as Spanish. Why shouldn't we be entitled to the NHS. That was part of being in the EU.

Grannyjay Tue 13-Aug-19 06:34:05

I used to read a popular magazine for the over fifties regularly and on the back page they did a spread of British seniors who decided to sell up and move abroad to spend their retirement wealth that they acclimated in the UK. When asked if they would ever return to the UK about 98% said they would if they or their partners became ill and needed nhs care. So they can take their wealth abroad for them to benefit but when they want nursing care they would come back and have the nhs pay. It just doesn’t sit right to praise living abroad and some talked about hating the UK but it’s alright when they want something. I do know some who chose to live abroad and never wanted to come back and good luck to them.

BradfordLass72 Tue 13-Aug-19 03:04:20

New Zealand has three official languages: English, Maori and NZ Sign Language.

I am fluent in one and have a good working knowledge of the other two. Unfortunately due to sight problems, I can't communicate in signing as well I was used to.

Cannot imagine anything worse that living in an 'expat community
I agree Jura.

When I first came here there was a Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England (WISE) Society and I was invited to join but didn't want to be surrounded by people whose minds were still back at home.

At the same time, I loved taking part in any of the festivals, particularly as there was, and still is, a strong Scottish presence in the South Island where I was first based.

And St Patrick's Day is also a big thing here - only the Welsh are quiet but I don't know why.

WISE no longer exists.

I have never regretted coming here, even though it wasn't my choice.
I fell deeply and unexpectedly in love with New Zealand and it is, quite definitely, where I want to end my days.

As I stated in another thread some time ago, that by no means compromises my pride in being English, or my roots in Yorkshire.

In a recent and scandalously expensive referendum the right wing government sought to change our flag.

I'm happy it was defeated.
The Union flag is still in the corner, proclaiming the origins of British settlers. The Southern Cross guided many others to Aotearoa.

Evie64 Mon 12-Aug-19 22:48:36

We lived on the Greek island of Naxos for about half the year for about 6 years. Used to go there in March and return in July, go back in September and stay until November. It was perfect and our little lock up and leave 200 year old house in a small mountain village was perfect. We learnt as much of the language as we could and got by with communication quite well. We then decided that we would like to live there full time. Sold the little house and bought a much bigger one on the coast. Biggest mistake of our lives sad. Come the winter the place was like a ghost town with all the shops, bars and tavernas' closed. The Greek property taxes also became ridiculous and we eventually sold up, at a huge loss, and returned home to our house in the UK which we had only rented out thank God. Due to the current Capital Controls in Greece we are still, after 4 years, unable to transfer the proceeds of the sale here to the UK except for "dribs and drabs". Such a shame, but hey, it was great while it lasted and we have some very good memories. If I knew then what I know now, I think I would have rented and not bought, far far safer and far far cheaper.

Grannycool52 Mon 12-Aug-19 21:24:09

Like Craicon above, I was a British person who moved from England to the Republic of Ireland & love it. I came for university, returned to UK for postgrad & work. I met British husband &, after some years persuaded him to move to Ireland, which he had previously only visited on holiday. We found this a great, safe, happy, fun place to bring up our children, who have themselves settled here as adults. The education they got is much better than we got in the UK and they enjoyed it more too. We do have private health insurance, but we also have public medical cards and can see our gp, free, the same day - we just have to drop in.
We are going to stay here & have even bought a grave in our local churchyard!!

BusterTank Mon 12-Aug-19 20:56:49

I can tell you it's all its cracked up to be and more . I lived in spain for 15'years and it was the worst thing I ever did moving back to the UK . Living abroad is not for everyone but it depends what you want out of life . If you loose a love one abroad it is just the same as if you loose a love one in England . I'm praying i win lottery so I can go back , wish me luck .

GagaJo Mon 12-Aug-19 20:40:00

Having lived abroad until June last year, I can attest that if you weren't resident in the uk/Europe for the previous 12 months, you are NOT entitled to uk healthcare.

jura2 Mon 12-Aug-19 20:32:32

4allweknow- I am pretty sure that was fraudulent- and makes me so angry sad

Callistemon Mon 12-Aug-19 20:27:57

still had British passports so entitled confused
Entitled to what?
Perhaps entitled to live here in a self-funded nursing home, Barmyoldbat, which is fair enough.

Barmeyoldbat Mon 12-Aug-19 20:02:36

Callestermon, yes I read that and thought it a blinking cheek. Though thinking about it maybe they are funding the care, which is ok while they have the money, as the care system is not as good in S Africa. Don't know but seem strange.

Glammy57 Mon 12-Aug-19 19:55:46

We have lived in The West Indies, Hawaii, Iceland and the west coast of U.S.A. I enjoyed each of the countries with Iceland being my favourite. For me, the U.K is home and we relocated, here, in 2000. We have no regrets - life is good, our daughter and GD live 60 miles away, our home is large and spacious, the climate suits us, and our pension allows us to have a great lifestyle.

I have friends who emigrated to Perth, Sydney and U.S.A and they seem to be reasonably happy. All of them moved for job opportunities, bigger homes and better salaries. Perhaps, it all depends on one’s values!

Callistemon Mon 12-Aug-19 19:48:26

People who have lived in the UK , probably worked and paid taxes and NI all their working lives, find it very difficult if not impossible to obtain funding for dementia care. I'm therefore very surprised that a couple who have lived in South Africa for 50 years are entitled to places at a funded nursing home.
And did I read that right? The family rented a place in the UK, dumped their parents with dementia in a home funded by UK taxpayers then went back to SA?

Perhaps I've misunderstood.

Destin Mon 12-Aug-19 19:34:16

Yes - we’ve done it twice and never regretted it. When the kids were very young my husband had a job offer in Canada, so after much persuading on his part we upped sticks and moved to Ontario, but didn’t sell our UK house, just in case!

Once we both agreed that we liked the life Canada offered us, we sold our UK home. Then in early 90’s when both grown up children were in university, again my husband had a job offer, but this time in Bermuda - so we moved there for 3 years but actually stayed for 16 years - never with the thought of making it permanent - we still viewed Canada as our “forever home”. Our plan we that as soon as we had our first grandchild we would leave Bermuda and return home - but because we were enjoying ourselves we didn’t actually come back to live permanently in Canada until our 5th grandchild was on the way. We were well past ‘official retirement age’ and both still working, but somehow we knew it was time to move back.

Now we are in our late 70’s it’s great to look back on the interesting twists and turns that have taken us away from our British birthplace. But I have to admit, at this stage in our lives nothing beats living close by to our bunch of grandchildren, watching and supporting them and knowing that just being around them makes our lives so much richer.

glammagran Mon 12-Aug-19 19:21:58

Dragonfly my son and his family have lived in Den Haag for 2 years. They were going to the U.S. this year but don’t fancy Trump’s America so are staying though drawback is that son spends a lot of time in the States. Kids go to the International School which isn’t free and I think there is some private health care provision. Dutch is a very hard language to learn I understand. DGD could speak some Cantonese as she went to a mainly Chinese nursery when they were in Hong Kong but now sadly forgotten. Den Haag is a lovely city and they live in an area with only Dutch families. No wish to return to UK.

4allweknow Mon 12-Aug-19 17:55:25

When working I came across a lot of people who lived abroad for most of their adult life, raising a family etc. Once illness set in with either or long term care needed they came back to the UK. One couple had lived in South Africa for 50 years but did need care (dementia). Family arranged a rented flat brought parents over and then applied for care. Still had British passports therefore entitled. Admitted to care, family back to S.A. For some living abroad is great until huge costs are involved then there is no place like home!

Jani Mon 12-Aug-19 17:17:10

I think this is a difficult one - as some if works and some if doesn't. We live in England and also Portugal - we split the time - however would not want to live in Portugal all the time - even though I do love it. My MIL lived in France until recently when husband died and can’t cope by herself so we have her living with us - . It’s a real struggle as she wants the house sold but as probably you all know these things take so much longer to sell. I tread to think where she would have ended up if we didn’t have the room. So as much as I think it works living abroad - when you get older and if you haven’t a support network of helpers I think it is so much more difficult.

jura2 Mon 12-Aug-19 16:59:35

Must admit I could not go to NZ or other side of the world- GCs are just a drive, train journey or emergency flight away.
Very different for me too, as we have come to live where I was born and bred and where we have so many good friends, and of course language no issue. Both dual citizens now- OH naturalised 3 years after we arrived here.

Oldandverygrey Mon 12-Aug-19 16:52:58

My uncle and auntie moved to Spain some years ago, enjoyed their lifestyle until one fell ill. Then they beat a hasty retreat back to the UK where the good ole NHS stepped up to the mark to care for patient. Once recovered they moved back to Spain.

Hebdenali Mon 12-Aug-19 16:46:02

My (same sex) partner is in the process of buying an apartment in the Canaries. She would love to spend most of the year there but I’m not so sure. She speaks fluent Spanish and I speak not a word and have no aptitude for languages at all. It is a culture I’m not very familiar with preferring SE Asia. We still have a house in West Yorkshire which I am concerned about leaving for moths at a time. It would be great for my children and grandchildren to come out to visit and use when we are not there. But I have decided to give it a go and make the best of it and see what happens.

CassieJ Mon 12-Aug-19 16:10:45

My brother has lived in Norway since 1985, speaks fluent Norwegian . He would never come back to the UK.
My elder son has lived in Canada for 16 years, and again he would never come back to the UK. He has a very good life style in Canada with a very well paid job, so has no reason to ever come back.

Daddima Mon 12-Aug-19 16:10:37

Channel 5 had a programme called ‘ Bargain Loving Brits in the Sun’ ( it’s available online) following loads of olderBrits who moved to Spain. You could probably count on one hand the ones who had learned the language, and they mostly lived on caravan sites.

Barmeyoldbat Mon 12-Aug-19 15:57:18

We winter in SE Asia and have learnt some of the language used in Cambodia and Laos. When I first went to Laos I made a point of learning it as not much english was spoken. My favourite and much used sentence was, coffee made with hot water please.

Callistemon Mon 12-Aug-19 15:19:17


I think the pull back to the UK for many people who go to live in Australia is family and friends left behind in the UK.

I was surprised to read that someone's siblings came back and the parents stayed (sorry, can't find the post to see who it was).

sodapop Mon 12-Aug-19 14:59:47

My story is much the same as Carillion retired early, moved to France on a whim and have not regretted it. We also plan to stay. The only way I would go back was if my husband died first. Like many of us here our house is old and requires a lot of maintenance which I would not be able to do. I don't altogether agree with comments about ex pats, I think a friend is a friend regardless of nationality. We have French and English friends and enjoy the company of both.

Shalene777 Mon 12-Aug-19 14:42:41

I lived in NZ for 3 years, it was OK. Scenery breathtaking but we have that here too.
I was so desperate to come home that I would have left my Kiwi husband behind but luckily he was happy to come back with me and he never wants to go back. We have been back for funerals and weddings etc but we have never regretted coming back to the UK.
I also, really strangely, started panicking that if I died in NZ my body would stay there forever and I wanted to be in England when I popped my clogs.