Financial problems in southern Europe appear to have forced a shift in perceptions of desirable places to retire for British people including looking at less obvious destinations.

A third of people want to move abroad when they retire, but the popularity of Spain, France, Portugal and Greece has plummeted in the past year, according to a recent study.

Of more than 1,500 Britons aged over 40, 35% said they would be happier to retire abroad than stay in the UK. The top three destinations were the US, Australia and Canada, if visas were not an issue, but a year ago Spain was the most popular destination.

UK expat travel

Cheaper and more convenient air travel means that more are considering retiring to countries that are further away, according to Luke Smith, managing director of Crystal Investment and Real Estate.

‘Over the last 12 months, we have seen a rise in the number of enquiries from retirees looking to acquire property overseas, to live abroad full time or for part of the year and their top considerations are climate followed by cost of living, living standards and taxation,’ said Smith.

‘For many Brits, Spain has lost its charm thanks to the Eurozone crisis. A high proportion of the 400,000 British people living in Spain have been left in financial ruin following the banking collapse. Property values dropped by up 70% in some parts and living costs have soared. Many retirees have returned to Britain, having lost all their savings,’ he explained.

He also pointed out that there are some major considerations before deciding to retire abroad. All the financial aspects of becoming an expat have to be taken into consideration, including tax rates, general costs of living, property prices and healthcare. There could be other considerations, for example, some countries insist you invest money in the country often at low rates.

Crystal Investment and Real Estate researched retirement prospects in 20 countries to identify the five top places to retire overseas. Factors taken into account included house prices, health care costs, average temperature, rainfall and hours of sunshine, as well as grocery bills, crime rates and taxation.

The research showed that the warm climate, mild winters, lower cost of living, good communication links and affordably priced properties makes Turkey an attractive option. With a fast growing economy and its position outside the Eurozone, Turkey is one of the few easily accessible countries tipped to offer great financial rewards. For those that choose to reside in, or purchase a property in Turkey, good interest rates in banks and a great variety of homes to buy, make living in Turkey a viable option.

Greece is still considered to be one of the more popular retirement destinations in Mediterranean Europe, as well as one of the most affordable options. The cost of living in Greece is substantially lower than in Britain and there are many low cost flights to the country.

The English speaking country of Belize in the Caribbean has a Retired Persons Incentive Programme which permits people to live 100% tax free. To qualify there is a minimum age of 45 with a non-Belizean based income of a minimum of US$2,000 per month.

Florida is regarded as a good choice for retirees who want to spend winter in the sun and then return to the UK when it gets too hot. Current US immigration legislation makes it relatively easy for retirees to spend six months out of every 12 in Florida.

The weather, lifestyle and golf courses make Portugal an increasingly popular choice for retirement. Living costs are lower than other parts of Western Europe.