Dream of retirement abroad blunted by financial worries for expat Brits

by Ray Clancy on March 23, 2016

The clichè of older British expats retiring to warmer countries and living the lifestyle of their dreams may be changing with new research revealing how many actually end up returning.

It is still true that those who retire abroad want better weather with 93% seeking warmer climes and some 99% seek financial security, research suggests that their new life abroad does not always live up to expectations.

Indeed, the latest data from the eighth annual NatWest International Personal Banking (IPB) Quality of Life Index shows that 32% of British people who have retired abroad intend to return to the UK.


The Quality of Life Index also reveals that the number of younger expats is increasing and those aged 25 to 35 now make up 27% of all British people living overseas.

Retirees’ motivations for moving abroad are dominated by a better life but despite these aspirations a quarter of retirees, 25%, admit their new home has not met their expectations.

Some 25% said they feel that their new life abroad does not live up to expectations and 97% are concerned about the increasing cost of living abroad while 99% have financial worries. Also, 92% of retirees feel they don’t belong in their new country.

“It is inevitably disappointing for expats who do not feel their expectations are fulfilled by their new life overseas,” said Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking.

“It is important for anyone planning a move abroad that they make an informed decision which factors in both the financial realities of living abroad and considers the impact of living in a new environment. It is important that people do not expect an extended holiday when they plan their new life away from the UK,” he added.

Retired expats dissatisfied with their experience overseas cited an increasing cost of living and other financial worries as the main causes for concern. The global economic downturn has particularly affected retired expats living in European countries, such as falling property prices on the continent affecting the value of expat homes.

However, sentimental reasons could also be contributing to the fact that more than a quarter of expat retirees, some 28%, admit that they rarely feel happy. Almost all retired expats, 94%, miss family and friends who are still based in the UK, despite advances in technology which have improved communication.

The research survey also found that 85% also miss British culture and 92% admit that they do not feel like they belong in their new home. In fact, retired expats feel that their loyalty lies exclusively with the UK with 100% saying so despite the fact that they live overseas and admit they see their identity as a British national as a useful asset.

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