Poor economic outlook tempting Brits to move abroad but would-be expats are advised to do their research first

by Ray Clancy on July 19, 2010

A poor financial outlook in the UK is prompting more Brits to consider buying a property abroad and becoming an expat, it has been revealed.

One third of all those considering buying property abroad are looking to emigrate permanently, according to recent research by Primelocation International.

In a survey of over 1,500 people, 33% said that a desire to relocate abroad permanently was behind their search for overseas property.

According to the website overall interest in international property is at record levels, with searches on Primelocation International up 138% on this time last year.

Only 23.7% of those questioned were looking for an overseas holiday home and only 12.4% were searching for an investment property.

Just over 20% of respondents said that the UK’s difficult economic climate has affected their intention to buy abroad and only 9.8% agreed that they had to be realistic and search for property in locations that fitted affordability constraints.

‘The fact that one fifth of those searching for international property agreed that the difficult economic climate has affected their intention to buy abroad suggests that poor financial prospects for the future are a driving factor behind Brits’ desire to emigrate,’ said the organisation’s international development manager, Ann Wright.

She added that property buyers in the UK recognise that prices in many popular countries such as Spain and France are such that they can make a good investment.

It seems there will be a lot of people moving back and forth across the globe this year. According to Julia Whittle, head of international at Punter Southall Financial Management, on the one hand there are a number of retirees abroad assessing whether they can afford to remain overseas and considering returning to the UK.

On the other hand, retirees hoping to snap up a bargain home in the sun are starting to look now. Whittle says rising taxation in the UK has also encouraged people to consider immigrating to countries where they would pay lower taxes.

However, she warns against choosing a new home solely on the grounds that it has a more appealing tax regime. ‘Lower taxes don’t necessarily mean a better standard of living. You need to assess the whole picture. In retirement, where people are living largely off capital and or pensions, they can be reasonably tax efficient in most jurisdictions if they get good advice,’ she explained.

‘Retire abroad because you really want to live in that particularly country, not just for tax or cost of living reasons,’ she added.

Advisers say it is best to do as much research as possible before undertaking a life-changing event such as moving abroad.

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