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So, you’re thinking of retiring abroad?

So, you’re thinking of retiring abroad?

Retiring abroad is a lifelong dream for many.  But deciding where to go isn’t always straightforward.  And in recent years, more and more Brits have started looking beyond
the usual spots to more exotic locations.  

We’ve put together this guide to just a handful of the places popular with retiring Brits.


It’s fabulous landscape, beautiful coastline and world-famous cuisine, has always made France a hot spot for Brits looking to retire abroad.  The laid-back, sociable and family-oriented lifestyle makes it a great spot to make the most of your new-found freedom. And of course, it’s not far for family and friends to travel, with plenty of different travel options to get there. 

Brexit has made it a little trickier to move there, as we no longer have the right to live and work in the EU.  Just like any other Non EU Resident, British Nationals must now go through a residency application.  You can find out more about the entry requirements at gov.uk.

Or you might want to find yourself an immigration lawyer, who’ll be able to support you through the whole process. 

According to a report conducted by the World Health Organization back in 2000, France had
the best healthcare system in the world.  And the good news is that if you are a retiree receiving a UK State pension you may be able to access it for free. 

Here’s what it says on the NHS website:

“If you move to an EU country or Switzerland and you receive a UK State Pension, you may be entitled to state healthcare paid for by the UK. 

You’ll need to apply for a certificate of entitlement known as an S1 form.  S1 forms show that your healthcare is paid for by the UL if you live in an EU country or Switzerland.”

Healthcare provisions for expats were agreed as part of the Brexit deal, but it doesn’t cover everything.  So, you’ll probably want to check out what you’re covered for before you commit to the move.

We’ve included a few helpful links below:



It’s one of the most popular holiday spots for us Brits, so it’s hardly surprising that it’s also a favourite retirement destination.  And according to data published at the end of 2020, Spain’s foreign-born population recently hit record levels. 

And it’s easy to see why.  It’s a country known for its sun, sea, sand, and laid-back lifestyle – it is after all the home of the siesta. With some of the best and most famous restaurants in the world, the food in Spain is also a real draw for those with the taste for the finer things in life. 

It is of course also very easy to get to with regular, quick and affordable flights to Spain and it’s Islands from airports across the UK.

Now we’re no longer part of the EU, moving to Spain is a little trickier for Brits and you will have to go through a residency or VISA application.  And, as you won’t be planning on working, you’ll need to be able to prove you reach the required income threshold.  You can find out more about the process on the UK government website.

And here are a few more useful links 



Thanks in no small part to its fabulous climate, great beaches and world renowned golf courses, Portugal has been popular with retiring Brits for years. And last year it again made Forbes’ list of the best countries to retire to abroad, with its relatively low cost of living and reliable healthcare cited as some of the reasons for it making the list.   

Portugal has a comprehensive free public healthcare system, ranked 12th in the world by the World Health Organisation.  As with France, if you are receiving a UK state pension, you can access healthcare with an S1 form. 

The fact that English is spoken fairly widely is also likely to appeal given Portuguese is not a language given few of us are likely to have had the chance to learn Portuguese. 

It’s also a fairly accessible spot for family and friends wanting to visit, with a number of airports across the country and regular connections to London and beyond. 

British Nationals now have to go through an application process before they can move to Portugal.  But, there are several visa options available to retirees, including the Portuguese Golden Visa which is one of the best and most flexible in the world. In return for a minimum investment in the country of 280,000 euros, you receive five years of residency as well as an opportunity to apply for permanent residency and citizenship. 

Here are a few helpful links if you want to know more:


Malta is a popular spot for expats.  In fact as of last year, 20% of the population of Malta is
from overseas.  And with it’s English-speaking population, warm, sunshiny days (around 3,000 hours of sunshine per year), affordable living, and high-quality healthcare system, it’s a great spot for retiring Brits.  In 2015 Malta topped the Telegraph’s list of the 10 best countries for Britons to retire abroad.

One of the great things about Malta is how familiar and easy it can feel for us Brits.  It is of course an ex UK colony, which means English is not only widely spoken, it’s an official language alongside Maltese.

As a non-EU citizen, you will have to apply for permission to retire to Malta.  But there are several attractive residency schemes including the Golden Visa.  You can find out more information on the process on the UK government website.

Healthcare in Malta is generally good and accessible to British retirees with an S1 form. Or of course, you can opt for Private Medical Insurance if you don’t qualify.

We’ve included a couple of links with some useful information:



If you fancy retiring somewhere a little more exotic, how about Panama? 

It has grown in popularity in recent years and in 2019 it made the top ten best countries to retire to, according to Business Insider.  So what makes it such a good spot for retirees?

Well there’s the obvious draw of the tropical climate; warm and humid all year round with a relatively low risk of hurricanes, for the tropics at least.  But then there’s also the low cost of living, perfect for those looking to make their pension go further.   And you’re also likely to find you get a lot more for your money when it comes to property too. 

Healthcare in Panama is quite varied so you may want to check facilities in the area you’re looking to move to and perhaps investigate Private Healthcare options as well.

Whilst there may not currently be any direct flights from the UK to Panama, there are a number of airlines operating indirect services out of a range of airports across the UK. 

Securing a visa to live in Panama is fairly straightforward.  So long as you are over 18 and can prove you have a lifetime pension, annuities or an income of $1,000 per month, you can apply for a Pensionado visa.

If you’re keen to know more, we’ve included a few helpful links below:

Gov.uk | Living in Panama – Advice for British Citizens considering a move to Panama

How to retire to Panama from the UK – Expat Focus

While retiring abroad is an incredibly exciting experience, there are many factors to consider when navigating how to move your money.  Finding a specialist partner, like CurrencyUK// with the experience and foresight to help you navigate this new reality could make all the difference.

Read more about how we can help you reduce the stress of moving your money abroad. 

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