The UK is full of Brexit talk, and it’s starting to wear thin. What we need are answers to our questions and confidence in our decisions moving forward. One question that many people are still unsure about is: how will our exit from the EU impact upon the process of moving abroad? Well, in this article we aim to look at some of the issues surrounding moving abroad post-Brexit to help people stay better informed and more prepared to make a decision.
Unfortunately, its still tricky to predict outcomes as negotiations continue, but it might be useful to know the various areas that might be affected by the Brexit aftermath. So, some examples might include: eligibility and regulations for driving in Europe and the hire of cars from UK citizens visiting places like Spain or Italy could change; changes to procedures around travel, relocating, retirement and holidays may occur; working abroad and accessing pensions abroad may incur different regulations, legislation and application procedures. In this article however, we will mainly be focusing on moving abroad to live, whether in retirement or otherwise, so let’s see where we can start getting down to facts and probabilities.
Is now the time?
Quite possibly, a move from the UK into another European country at this time might just be a wise move. In fact, according to research carried out last year, the uncertainty around Brexit and changes which may occur following a deal has actually encouraged expats to bite the bullet and make the move. This could be because they anticipate that changes put in place following a move may not be applicable. On the flip side to this attitude, many are still stuck in their decision because they worry that changes may impact upon their living circumstances. So, with all of the uncertainty, what do we know about certain issues besides freedom of movement following Brexit?
Well, in 2018 UK and EU negotiations resulted in an agreement for a ‘transition period’ following Brexit. This means that UK citizens will retain the same rights as they do now for 21 months following any deal that is made. That allows new regulations to be explored and decided in advance and gives expats a breathing period up until the 31stDecember 2020. In addition, there is an agreement which states that this period could potentially be extended once again, if required. So, there is a good amount of time for the dust to settle. Therefore, Brits moving abroad in Europe can still rest assured that they won’t face automatic and immediate rights changes post-Brexit.
If you decide to move abroad now, it is useful to know that, if you are legally resident in an EU country following Brexit, you can apply for something called ‘settled status’. This was agreed alongside the transition period and it means that your right to live and work (or study) abroad will remain if your application is successful. It is important that you do some research on your settled status application to ensure that you are eligible, as it may also include information and/or changes to your rights to various healthcare benefits and pension access. Note however, that it is still unclear how Brexit will affect expats right to free movement within the EU, so it is important that you have already made your decision in terms of your country of choice pre-deadline. For example, if you are a Brit living or retiring in Spain post-Brexit, this still won’t allow you freedom to move anywhere else in the EU without new and tighter restrictions.
Here’s one thing we can tell you. If you are planning to move to, for example, Spain to live or to retire, there is a strong uncertainty about post-Brexit property prices. The assumption is that both holiday visits and the cost of villas and property will increase following our exit from the EU. Potentially, therefore, it could be worth investing sooner rather than later. The cost of living across various EU countries vs the UK post-Brexit may also be an appealing factor, as we may see a rise in house prices and produce that won’t occur as steeply as elsewhere.
Many Brits decide to move elsewhere in Europe to retire, with Spain being the most popular destination. If this is something you are considering, now may be the best time to take the plunge. The potential restrictions in terms of freedom of movement following Brexit could cause difficulties for retirees moving abroad. Although we don’t know for certain, we can anticipate that procedures will change, and restrictions will mean that previously smooth transitions from home to abroad could become complex – particularly if UK citizens are required to attain a working visa in order to live abroad. This will defeat the point of your retirement, after all – and it could be that there are many more hurdles for retirees to face.
Our conclusion is that if you are considering a move from the UK to another EU country, pre-deal may be better than post-deal. However, nobody can know for certain how much the changes will impact on our ability to move or retire in another country. The best solution is not to panic, to be as informed as possible, shop around and do your homework. There are still many appealing factors about retiring abroad so, as long as you are prepared, the move should offer more in the way of pros in the long-term.