expat network

Motivations And Concerns When Planning Retirement Abroad

retirement abroad
Expat Network has carried out a survey into the plans of those considering retiring abroad as well as the experiences of those who have already retired abroad.  What are the main motivations for their decision to retire abroad, how are they financing it and what do they plan to do about property?
  • One in three of those planning to retire abroad say that Brexit has impacted their plans
  • Spain remains by far the most popular destination followed by Portugal and France
  • Climate, cost of living and access and cost of healthcare most important factor in deciding where to retire.
  • Although retiring 31% expect to do part time work and 39% to set up a business to financed their retirement abroad.
  • 93% of those who have retired abroad are satisfied with their decision.



Brexit has created uncertainty for expats considering retiring abroad to take advantage of the climate and the lower cost of living, but despite this 61% of British people in our survey planning to retire abroad said it had no impact on their plans to retire abroad nor on the timing of their move.  Of those Brits who said it had impacted their decision there were mixed views on whether to move to beat the impact of the terms finally agreed or to hold off to wait and see what happens.  23% said it had delayed their move and 10% said it had hastened their move.

Brexit has also been unsettling for those who have already retired in Europe with 28% of those Brits living in Europe saying it had made them consider returning home and the same percentage waiting to see what happens and 44% say it has not changed their plans to stay retired abroad.


Where are people considering retiring?

The general impression is that people have a clear idea of where they want to retire when considering retiring abroad.  However, in our survey it was clear many have not made a final decision and 36% are still considering more than one country and many considering multiple destinations.

Spain remains the most popular destination for Brits planning to retire abroad with 62% of those in the survey considering this as their retirement destination, followed by Portugal (24%) and France (15%).  British retirees are looking almost exclusively at European destinations with just a few considering North America and Australia.

Those who have spent time working abroad are more adventurous as although European destinations top the list British expats are also considering Thailand, The Philippines as well as the USA, Central and South America.

Nigel Ayres, CEO of Expat Network commented ‘Europe remains the main draw for Brits considering retiring to the sun.  The main exception is those who have been working abroad who sometimes consider retiring in the region where they have been living.’


What drives the choice on where to retire?

The traditional reason for people retiring abroad is to enjoy a better climate and 74% of British retirees see this as very important when deciding where to retire.  Not surprisingly, those planning to retire to Spain and Portugal see the climate as a major draw to those countries with four out of five people seeing climate as a very important reason for choosing to retire to those countries. However, only 60% of Brits planning to retire to France saw climate as very important.

However, more practical issues are also important with 70% of British retirees saying the cost of living is very important.  The cost of property reinforces this with 65% seeing it as a very important factor when deciding where to retire.  The cost and quality of healthcare also comes high in people’s priorities with 67% rating each as a very important factor and with 60% rating access to the state healthcare system as very important.

In our survey we looked at whether having worked abroad impacts your priorities and concerns when choosing where to retire abroad.  Although the concerns are similar, climate seems to be less important to those who had worked abroad with 42% saying climate was very important.

The motivation for those already retired abroad is very different with only 25% seeing climate as very important and they also say they did not see the cost of living as a key factor (50% seeing it as a very important reason for them).  Healthcare is rated as highly as by those planning their move with 67% saying the cost and 65% the quality of healthcare was a very important factor when they decided where to retire.


Financing Retirement

Private pensions and personal savings are the most popular sources for people to finance their new life abroad followed by their state pensions, but many expect to do part time work (39%) or to set up a business (31%) to help finance their lifestyle.  This is supported by the responses of those who have already retired abroad with 27% saying they work or run a business part-time and 5% full-time.



Buying property remains popular with 85% planning to buy.  Only 14% plan to rent their home.  However, 41% are intending to rent before committing to buying their home, sensibly taking the opportunity to get to know the area before deciding where to buy.

With 58% planning to live in villas or houses they remain the most popular option.  32% are planning to choose flats or apartments (9% choosing a range of other options).

When it comes to decisions about what to do with the property at home the choices are evenly split with one in three planning to sell the property and the same proportion for both those planning to rent out and those planning to retain the property for personal/family use.  Those who have already retired seem to have taken a more decisive view perhaps driven by practicalities with 50% having sold their property at home, only 14% renting it out and 20% retaining it for personal use.


Has it proved a good decision for those who have already retired?

Those who have made the move have found it a positive experience with 93% satisfied with their decision.  They also found it fairly easy to settle into retirement abroad with 70% of Brits saying they felt at home within six months and only 8% saying they still do not feel at home.  Expats definitely settle abroad more easily and of those who had never previously lived abroad 23% say they still have not settled into their retirement abroad.  Levels of dissatisfaction is similar for both experienced expats and those who have not previously lived abroad, however, with 7% of both groups dissatisfied enough to be considering or actively planning to return home.

Overall it is clear that there are many decisions to make and it does not work out for everyone, but retirement abroad can be a great experience and meets most people’s expectations.


Retire Abroad Roadshow

Expat Network has announced the first Retire Abroad Roadshow will take place on 4th July 2020 at Epsom Racecourse in Surrey.

The roadshow is the first of its kind dedicated purely to retiring overseas and will enable visitors to discuss the options with experts able to explain the new rules and their implications. The event will also provide a step by step guide to what you need to do to retire abroad:  from choosing the target destination and looking at various property options, to funding the move and discussing practicalities.  A specialist group of companies have been selected to cover the full process, including: foreign exchange, wealth management, financial planning, legal, property purchase, home rentals, relocation, international mortgages and health care.  Nigel Ayres, Chief Executive of Expat Network, who has recently made the move to Spain himself, will share his experiences.


For media enquiries, press pass and interview requests:

Susie Gysin
07887 717411


Note to Editors

Expat Network has been supporting expats for over 30 years helping them to find jobs abroad, relocate and then get the best out of their life abroad.

Expat Network provide access to the information, tools and services needed when making the move through its portal, www.expatnetwork.com.  They also produce a series of guides and regular monthly newsletters.  Expat Network has built a loyal membership of over 105,000 expats around the world.