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Can Brits Still Afford To Move Or Retire To The Sun?

Move or retire to the sun

Now the UK has left the EU, work permits in Spain are more difficult to obtain and if you plan to retire to Spain you have to get a visa and demonstrate that you can financially support yourself.  These more onerous requirements have ended the dreams of those who had planned to move or retire to the sun in Spain and live on their state pension.  Some may need to look at Portugal or France where the requirements are not as high.

In order to retire to countries in the EU now that the UK is no longer a member it is necessary to apply for a visa.  If you are thinking about moving to Spain and do not intend to work there, the most appropriate of these is the Non Lucrative Visa (NLV), which allows you to take up residence in Spain provided you have sufficient funds to support yourself and do not need to work in Spain.  It is this requirement that is causing problems for many Brits.  In 2024 you have to demonstrate an income of €36,000 a year for a couple and €50,400 for a family of four.  This requirement will rule out the option of moving to Spain for many.  Those who are retiring on a basic UK State pension which is £11,502 in 2024 will not qualify.

Younger families looking to move to Spain will generally have to look to get a work permit or a visa allowing them to set up a business as they would have to demonstrate an income of €50,400 from sources other than work to qualify for an NLV.

However, all is not lost if you want to retire to the sun.  Portugal offers similar benefits of climate, lifestyle and low cost of living.  Portugal has a similar visa to Spain’s NLV, the Passive Income Visa, which has a significantly lower annual income requirement (€14,760 for a couple and €20,664 for a family of four in 2023).  The visa also does not restrict you from working or setting up a business as the Spanish NLV does.  The cost of property and the cost of living is around 10% lower than in Spain.

If you compare property prices in these two countries with the UK, Spain is lower but Portugal though more expensive Spain is cheaper than the UK. The price per square meter to buy an apartment outside the city centre in Alicante in Spain, for instance, is 58% lower than the prices outside Birmingham city centre and Faro in Portugal is 42% lower. Rental prices for a 3-bedroom apartment outside the city centre are 42% lower outside Alicante than outside Birmingham. Portugal is not as cheap but still rentals outside Faro are 9.9% lower than outside Birmingham.

The cost of living index for Portugal is 46.6 and for Spain it is 48.4 against 63.7 for the U.K. (72.9 for the U.S.). If you look at the cost of living including renting property Spain and Portugal are virtually identical at 36.6 and 36.5 respectively against 49.4 for the U.K. (and 59.5 for the U.S.).

This table summarises the different property and living costs between the two countries:

Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment in City Centre€3,334 €3,239
Price per Square Meter to Buy Apartment Outside of Centre€1,962€2,140
Rent 3-bedroom apartment in city centre€1,525€1,704
 Rent 3-bedroom apartment outside city centre €1,071€1,223 
Monthly Utilities – (Electricity, Heating, Cooling, Water, Garbage) for 85m2 Apartment €129.63€111.45
Monthly Internet (60 Mbps +, Unlimited Data, Cable/ADSL)€32.11€36.71
International Primary School, Yearly  – 1 Child €7,805€9,297
Meal for two in a mid-range restaurant€50.00€40.00
Bottle of wine (mid-range)€5.00€4.58
Beef Round (1 kg)€13.13€11.70
Chicken fillets (1 kg)€6.98€6.81
Dozen eggs€2.43€2.76
Potatoes (1 kg)€1.43€1.45
Apples (1kg)€1.97€2.00
Cost of living plus rent index*42.1338.27
Figures per Numbeo.com on 27/2/24

So, if you want to move to the sun, but only have limited income you may need to take advantage of the D7 visa in Portugal rather than the Non L:ucrative Visa in Spain and overall the cost of living is also much lower than in the U.K.. 

If you are considering retiring to Spain or Portugal you can watch the recordings of our recent webinar series:

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