Retire Overseas Tips

Retire Overseas TipsRetire Overseas Tips

Sunshine, sand, sangria, Bouzouki or a nice Chablis? A dream that many of us may have is to live, buy property or retire abroad. With property prices being at an all time high in this country and with spendable income increasing, more and more of us are looking for that dream. However, a new language, new laws and new customs may present barriers to us. With this in mind, our expert, Ashley Clark, has been researching the ‘expat’ market to give you some pointers.

Buying Property

Property in Europe is very similar in the way that it is bought and sold to the UK. However, certain parts of the law are very different and the charges to buy property can be a lot higher. E.g. In Spain as well as the local searches, engaging a Notary (similar to a solicitor) and other legal fees, you may have to go in person to prove your identity just to get electricity, you may have to wait months and sometimes years to get a telephone. In France, there are special and very popular, lease back schemes, where you buy property before it is built and lease it back to the builder where you can move in even sell it once it is finished at a healthy profit – but you pay up front at discount. The basic rule is to find a legal adviser and real estate agent who both speak English. Have all documents translated so that you know what you are signing. Take references from the legal adviser and real estate agent from British people who have used their services. Be prepared for fees for property purchase to be substantially higher then in the UK. Allow for approximately 15% of the purchase price on top for fees.

Expat Mortgages

Euro interest rates are slightly higher than in the UK, currently at around 0.5% pa although mortgage rates are not. Do not be tempted by UK lenders who offer borrowing here for properties abroad when you could borrow a lot cheaper in Europe. This is even the case for your mortgage on a UK property. Deposits required are generally higher though. You normally need about 30% of the purchase price as a deposit if you are taking a Euro mortgage. Tip: Take advice in the UK from an overseas mortgage specialist.

Expat Financial Advice

The regulation of financial advisers in the UK is very tight now, given past mis-selling scandals etc. This is not necessarily so overseas. Regulation is strong in the northern European Nations but not necessarily so further south. Be aware of “British Financial Advisers” operating in places like Spain as they are likely not to be registered with either Spanish Authorities or the UK authorities. Remember, if they are not registered you have no investor protection, no regulatory protection and the only way you could get compensation should anything go wrong is via a civil court case. Civil cases in some countries can take years and years and even if you do win compensation, what if the person refuses to pay? Back to court for another few years. Tip: Take financial advice only from a UK registered financial adviser experienced in overseas – ask for proof that they have experience. Do not fall foul of the “move to Spain – lose your Brain” mentality.


Just because you have made a Will in the UK does not mean that it is effective in other countries. E.g. in Spain and Portugal, even though you may have made a UK Will, you also need to make one for your assets and property in those countries. Take advice before you then see a Notary when you are overseas.

Contact our experts for advice on Your Finances Abroad or for any more tips on retire overseas.