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Is it cheaper to live abroad? Anyone done it?

(133 Posts)
Rexdog12 Thu 14-Sep-23 19:34:40

I'm 63. Husband 67. He has state pension plus small occpen. I have small occpen and still work part time until i get my state pension, 3 years away. Our total income feels too small to live comfortably into old age. We have friends who live in Spain who say they couldn't afford to live here now. Thinking of moving abroad to either EU or Non EU country for retirement. Has anyone else done this and do you think it possible to have higher standard of living abroad on a modest income than living over here? We have savings so could get health insurance elsewhere etc.

Rexdog12 Fri 15-Sep-23 15:11:13

MrsKen, bless you. I know it can be done. I know there are limiting and mitigating factors. But i wouldn't be doing it blind. This forum has kicked up some good advise especially about hidden costs eg funeral planning, wills etc. I wouldn't buy there but at this age i think it will be our last chance to enjoy a lengthy period living elsewhere. Money is a big consideration which is why i asked

Grantanow Fri 15-Sep-23 15:12:08

It may work for some people especially if they are fluent in the language but Brexit has messed things up. It's worth talking with those who have done it.

Rexdog12 Fri 15-Sep-23 15:13:31

Thanks everyone for your comments. I'm still thinking about it and I'm sure the right decision will cub come to me in the endsmile

Callistemon21 Fri 15-Sep-23 15:19:57

Australia has become very expensive now and your UK State pensions would remain at the same amount as when you left. We were going to buy a property there 20 years ago with a view to moving there, but personal circumstances dictated otherwise. We've spent part of each year there until Covid but I think, on the whole, we're glad to be in the UK.

The reciprocal arrangements re State Pensions is something to consider. And the fact that, if you decided to return, could you afford to?
We know a couple who went to Spain, wanted to return but couldn't afford to buy another property back here.

Callistemon21 Fri 15-Sep-23 15:23:54

I could go on but I don’t want to put you off 😄

Same here MerylStreep!

What about a quieter location in the UK, Rexdog?
A small market town or similar?

Rexdog12 Fri 15-Sep-23 16:02:50

No if i sold my house i can't see the point of moving around the uk. I am thinking of renting and using the funds to stay a while in southern eu, and hopping over to a non schengen country till it resets. If all fails, come back home. If I'm lucky enough to have the next 10 years then this is my plan. So while not technically living abroad, i wouldn't be living in uk either. I'll work it out.

halfpint1 Fri 15-Sep-23 18:32:06

A few years ago I met a couple of English ladies in my local
park who had moved to this little town when they were 70 to
be near their son who lived a few kilometres away with his french wife.
Their French never improved past the basic, they lived a quiet
unsociable life, had each other and a bit of family. They are'nt
with us any more and I do miss them but I know they were
very happy that they had made the move.

JenniferEccles Sat 16-Sep-23 10:29:10

Apologies if this has already been mentioned, as it’s the first thing that occurred to me - how about selling your house and buying a little flat both here and in, say, Spain which you have mentioned a few times ? That way you would always have a property here if the move doesn’t work out.
You could split your time between the two properties.

One or two Gransnet folk have done just that and it sounds like a lovely lifestyle.

Norah Sat 16-Sep-23 10:35:06

Rural Suffolk is a lovely and reasonable place to live. However some services are far from low priced accommodations.

Fleurpepper Sat 16-Sep-23 11:39:52

There are so so many factors to take into consideration. And things have become so much more difficult since Brexit. To be honest, your OP only mentions cost, but so many other things are as important, and probably even more so.

But your OP is so vague- where abroad? That makes a huge difference. I could never ever have considered living beyond Europe, and beyond a day's drive or train, or 2 hrs flight away.

Halfpint, it is beyond me that people, at any age, would go and live in a country for many years and not work hard to ensure that can communicate on everyday matters- never mind the grammar or perfect pronunciation. At the top of the list of 'to do' when moving to any country, is to find a way to learn- at any age. Not intrictate points of fancy grammar- but basic conversation.

Rexdog12- you should only consider moving to a place where, despite Brexit, you can have access to decent healthcare, and ensure you find someone who would be able to help you with communication in case of an emergency. Those of us who moved to Europe before Brexit, and retired in EU, still have access to S1 health care exemption for local cover, and are covered by the UK. This is just no longer possible. And once resident there, you are no longer allowed to use the NHS back in UK either. At retirement age- this health cover has to be top priority.

We moved abroad temporarily, always intending to return after a few years. Due to the state of the NHS, and our medical history- this would be pure folly at the moment.

Please bear in mind that Brexit and other political and economic reasons, Sterling has lost hugely in value, especially against some currencies. So even if it is cheaper to live abroad, if you rely on a pension in Sterling- this will negatively balance out.

Nannarose Sat 16-Sep-23 11:41:14

Rexdog, you have given us a bit more information, and it seems that you have a liking for Spain.
I too feel that the UK is broken, but it is my country, and I have no choice (emotionally I mean) but to stay and do my bit to make it somewhat better. So we are coming from different places.

I am going to post a bit about living simply in the UK as others read and consider posts. I live in a quiet rural area, where house prices are about the UK average. The only downside is public transport which has gone from good to very unreliable in the last 10 years.
Our neighbours are lovely and helpful; we have access to good local food - yes it is increasing in price, but no more than inflation. I am not sure what you mean by 'authentic' but we cook from scratch, and make a lot of preserves from seasonal produce.
We are sociable: 2 events coming up - Harvest Supper - £12 for sheherds' pie, blackberry & apple crumble & cheese, BYO drink - charity auction of produce afterwards.
Charity event at the pub: £15 for a drink, plenty of cheese, home made bread & pickles. Raffle.
2 concerts coming up: one is £25 a ticket at our nearest concert hall (we go once or twice a year) and a Xmas concert at the local church featuring professional performers: £15 a ticket + donation for mulled wine & mince pies.
We have a lovely local music festival, reasonably priced; and our local (volunteer run) library puts on interesting talks. We can walk freely in the countryside, but also go to events at the local Nature Reserve.

I don't know if this seems extravagant to some or dull to others, but given that we own our own energy-efficient home outright, we can live well on a fairly standard retirement income.

Callistemon21 Sat 16-Sep-23 11:53:54

Norah

Rural Suffolk is a lovely and reasonable place to live. However some services are far from low priced accommodations.

I suggested somewhere like a market town in the UK because RexDog was concerned about crime rates where she lives now and that it feels unwelcoming.
Smaller communities often have a lot more going on than suburbia or cities.

However, I think she has made her mind up.

nanna8 Sat 16-Sep-23 12:25:40

You couldn’t get to Australia these days unless you were born here or under 45. It is very,very expensive now ,not what it used to be. They have increased migration substantially but are very picky about their choices. There are parts that are an absolute dream, heavenly but I am sure that also applies to parts of the UK.

Siope Sat 16-Sep-23 16:32:15

Fleurpepper, just for info, UK state pensioners can still get an S1 and thus reciprocal public healthcare once they have residence (no need to wait for citizenship) in countries that recognise S1s. Of those, Spain is the simplest, since you can take your S1 to the visa interview and be registered for public healthcare at the same time as you get your visa. You do, of course, have to have a Spanish address to get the S1, but there are ways to manage that.

For other countries, one needs zero excess travel insurance (which is hard to find and hideously expensive - one of our quotes was £8000 for four months!) to cover the period between arrival and residency; in theory, weeks to a few months, in practice, for many places, much longer. Portugal, for example, recommends a year, even though residency should theoretically take only 3 months, and I know not to believe a word Greece claims about timescales.

Even with public healthcare entitlement, there may be costs that are unfamiliar to those used only to the NHS, and in many (usually ‘cheaper’) countries, it’s still sensible to have additional private insurance, as this buys you faster access and, to be frank, staff in the private sector often have good English.

On the wider language issue, lots of countries, including in the EU, offer, via local councils, free language lessons to immigrants. Not just a good way to learn the language, but to meet other (new) people too.

Callistemon21 Sat 16-Sep-23 16:49:58

nanna8

You couldn’t get to Australia these days unless you were born here or under 45. It is very,very expensive now ,not what it used to be. They have increased migration substantially but are very picky about their choices. There are parts that are an absolute dream, heavenly but I am sure that also applies to parts of the UK.

I think you can retire there if you have loadsa money!
(We haven't)

Rexdog12 Sat 16-Sep-23 16:59:01

Halfpint, lovely story thank you

Rexdog12 Sat 16-Sep-23 17:00:19

Jennifer, sounds great not sure if it would work out more costly to run 2 properties though

Rexdog12 Sat 16-Sep-23 17:01:49

Fleur, some good points. Most ppl we know living in Spain moved before brexit

Rexdog12 Sat 16-Sep-23 17:05:25

Nanna. You are right we like spain particularly as we have friends who have lived there a long time and we wouls benefit from that. We have been to other southern eu countries ie portugal Greece, Italy even but it would really be starting with nothing there because we know no one there and not even a bit of the language

Rexdog12 Sat 16-Sep-23 17:15:43

Nannarose thank you. You have raised one of my biggest bugbears about the uk which is the lack of and unreliable public transport. My son lives miles from us and i take the train to see him about once a month. For the last year it feels like overtime bans or strikes have ruined my plans and as it would happen, i had a visit booked on 29th and 30th, and be damned if they haven't done it again. We have a car but the motorways have their own problems and it feels anyway like the govt hates car owners but don't want to provide us with any alternatives. And traveling is expensive compared to almost every other country I've visited

Witzend Sat 16-Sep-23 17:17:06

Callistemon21

Australia has become very expensive now and your UK State pensions would remain at the same amount as when you left. We were going to buy a property there 20 years ago with a view to moving there, but personal circumstances dictated otherwise. We've spent part of each year there until Covid but I think, on the whole, we're glad to be in the UK.

The reciprocal arrangements re State Pensions is something to consider. And the fact that, if you decided to return, could you afford to?
We know a couple who went to Spain, wanted to return but couldn't afford to buy another property back here.

I know a couple like that, too - took ages to sell their Spanish house, for barely what they’d paid for it well over 10 years previously - and meanwhile, the costs of U.K. property had rocketed.
They were only able to live anywhere near their family (the reason for returning) because their one remaining parent died and they inherited her house - considerably smaller than the one they’d sold to move to Spain in the first place.

I know it’s not always going to be possible, but IMO anyone moving abroad should keep a U.K. bolt hole - in case.

I know another couple who moved abroad ‘for ever’, only to return maybe 7 years later when one of them became terminally ill. And again they’d sold up, and found that U.K. prices had rocketed in the meantime.

Rexdog12 Sat 16-Sep-23 17:17:44

Callistemon, i can't see the point of moving within the uk. Its such an upheaval and i don't feel it tick any of the boxes which are ailing me

Rexdog12 Sat 16-Sep-23 17:19:57

Nanna8 Australia isn't on my radar. Too far for family to visit. I have family who went out there as £10 poms in the 60ssmile, and they have had a good life but wouldn't recommend it to us now

PamelaJ1 Sat 16-Sep-23 17:20:29

Rexdog12

Hi there. Completely agree. But the uk feels like a very unwelcoming place to live. The attitude of the police and the nhs and the public institutions all seem to be working against us it seems to me. Like as if they hold us, the public in contempt

Not where I live. I read the papers , listen & watch the news but life seems , on the whole, for me, to be reasonably good.
It’s all very well visiting lovely places but would you want to live there. My mum and dad thought they might like to live in Spain like a few of their friends. They took a package holiday and went to visit a few ex pat communities.
As expats themselves they thought they would fit in.
It’s probably changed since then but they wanted a ‘real’ life.
I know an expat community is not all that is on offer but if you don’t speak the language then it’s easier.
The people that I know that have moved have all kept a bolt hole here- just in case.
I’ve lived in other parts of the world and on a very modest income I would stick with the U.K.
If money was no object then I may think differently.

Rexdog12 Sat 16-Sep-23 17:23:54

Siope thank you for posting that you have saved me a job ha ha. Lots of ppl think you can't move to an eu country now at all , which obviously isnt true.