9 tips for UK expats


Retiring under the sun?


When I was working in the UK, I met many people who hoped to retire abroad. See, the UK is lovely but if you like a warm weather and a low cost of living, it may not be the first destination on your list.

With this post I want to share a few tips for anyone considering leaving the UK to retire abroad.


Get your tax situation in order


Make sure you tell HMRC that you are leaving. There is a special tax regimen for people who are not full time residents (i.e. who spend less than 6 months per year in the UK), especially if you are renting your house or still have rental properties.


Automate as much as possible


Remember to scan all your important documents, and your online log in details for banking, utilities, council tax and the Government Gateway. Most services will accept to resend your password only via mail and that can prove complicated.


Set up Direct Debits for your Council tax, and any other bills that you will still be paying while living abroad.


Consider double banking


I still have a UK credit card that charges me no commission on cash withdrawals abroad, but having a local bank account is very useful in order to set up bills and utilities payments, and wire money from the UK. Your current bank may have a network in your future country of residence, and can help you open a bank account before arriving. The benefits of an offshore bank are also worth considering.


Have your mail follow you


There is a forward postal service that allows you to receive your mail and magazines at your new address, check the details with your post office.


SORN your car


If you are not going to use your car, you can contact DVLA and fill a form of Statutory Of Road Notification. You will not have to pay for your tax disc or MOT, but won’t be able to use your car if you come back for Christmas.


Get a health checkup


The last thing you want is a medical emergency a few weeks into your new life under the sun. Arrange for a GP appointment a few months before you go, so you have time to follow up if needed. Ask for a 6 or 12 months prescription, and the generic name of your medicines, so you can easily refill abroad.



Find health insurance

Depending of your country of retirement, the health system might be amazing, or non existent. Get a few quotes to compare coverage, both in the UK and in your new country. As I now live in a cheap country, I chose to go without health insurance, and pay for my healthcare as I go. My credit card also covers me for big emergencies. If you are retiring in your 60s, then insurance is a must. Some companies will also cover your spouse to come back to the UK with you in case of a medical emergency.

Get financial advice


This is certainly the most important point. You want to make sure that you can enjoy as much of your hard earned savings and your pension. Talk to an adviser, and apply for an offshore bank account if that minimizes your tax burden. Set up your goals, do you want to plan life at your new destination, optimize your taxes, or make sure your loved ones will receive an inheritance? With proper advice, you will be able to have a clear picture of your financial future.



Bring your pension with you


HM Revenue and Customs has a scheme called QROPS, the Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme, that allows non-UK residents to transfer their private pensions abroad. I looked into it when I started working there because my employer had a contribution match, and I would have been able to bring my pension back to France once I stopped working. During the first five years of moving your pension abroad, you will need to fill a self assessment return at the end of the tax year to HMRC, and then you will be free to enjoy your nest egg in your new country. Note that you can only transfer your private or corporate pension, not your state pension.


The main advantage of transferring your pension abroad is that you will be subject to your new country’s tax system, where tax brackets can be much lower. Having your pension in the currency of your country of residence can also bring you the safety of knowing what amount to expect and not depend on currency rates.


Are you considering a retirement under the sun? What are your tips to make your dreams a reality?


This post was featured on the Canadian Budget Binder, thank you!

A 30 something French girl embarking on a journey towards Financial Independence. I blog about money, travel, simple and deliberate living, freedom and choices. You can find me on Twitter, Google+, or Reach Financial Independence's Facebook Page

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  1. Brian and I have never really considered retiring abroad. We like where we live! :) But we do want to live abroad for a little while, so I think those are still good tips. I would definitely stock up on refills of prescriptions before going any where for an extended period of time.
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  2. Veronica @ Pelican on Money says:

    Where is that in the photo? looks loveley!
    Veronica @ Pelican on Money recently posted..On Quality of LifeMy Profile

  3. So people who live in the UK want to retire away from the UK… So why do my brothers both want to move from Australia (very sunny, nice beaches) to the UK? Strange boys…

    Great tip on the pension, I wouldn’t have thought about the tax implications at all.
    Glen @ Monster Piggy Bank recently posted..6 easy money SAVING tipsMy Profile

    • money? beer? girls? I have met many Australians/kiwis in the UK who come on an overseas experience around 20 and then move back when they are 30 to have kids in Australia/NZ, a much better quality of life and some sun!

  4. Good advice. I regularly encounter new expats who are just overwhelmed wth the sheer volume of work to relocate themselves and their family. A very stressful time for all – but usually well worth it!

  5. I’m looking forward to retiring with sun and beaches, but I’m sticking inside the same country. I love to travel, but I am the type that gets homesick pretty easily.
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  6. Great tips, Pauline! While I’m not from the UK it sounds like most of these can be applied to Americans as well. I don’t think I would move permanently to another country but I would consider living somewhere else for a few months out of the year (have you heard about the winters in Minnesota? …..). These are all good things to keep in mind.
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  7. Canadians and Brits often think the same regarding retiring – go somewhere warmer! We call people who live in Canada for 6 months and elsewhere (usually Florida) for 6 months “snowbirds.” There’s soooo many Canadian senior citizens living in Florida!
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  8. Great post, Pauline, especially the part about healthcare/prescriptions. We often talk of retiring someplace warm, though I’m not sure if it’ll be out of the country. It’s nice to have a to-do list for if we ever do decide to go, though.
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  9. I can’t imagine that it would be easy to transition into Expat life no matter where you are going. great tips!
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  10. Brilliant article, thanks for sharing with us
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