The traditional image of British retirees moving to the sun may typically feature a couple, but as overseas property and emigration specialist Smart Currency Exchange highlights, plenty of singles head overseas each year too. Director Charles Purdy, suggests five hotspots for solos looking for an exciting life by retiring abroad.
When we surveyed our readers moving abroad, 15% said they were going alone. Of those, 53% were aged 60 and over.
And why not? There are many reasons why older people are, if anything, better prepared to make a success of going it alone abroad than younger people. They’re more likely to know their own limitations and prepare accordingly. Retirees may have the self-confidence to make friends. Moreover, quite simply, they may have the money to afford a property abroad, especially if downsizing from a family home in the UK.
The appeal of starting a new life abroad includes a pension that will usually go further overseas, and warmer weather that can ease the kind of medical conditions that come on later in life. But let’s not think that retiring abroad is about taking it easy – it’s the perfect way for energetic retirees to turn a new chapter in life.
The next question then is, where to retire abroad in 2022? It’s a year when Brexit is finally done and, hopefully, we don’t have to contend with a too severe pandemic.
On the Brexit front, while officially “freedom of movement” may have ended for Brits retiring to the European Union, in practice, there are still many ways to move there.
It may not be the most adventurous option, but maybe moving abroad is adventure enough, and being at the end of a short flight from the UK is quite handy.
There are plenty of advantages to moving to Spain, which came top in a Property Guides’ survey of best places to move as a singleton.
Firstly, there is the ready-made English-speaking expat community to make friends with. Even those determined to become as Spanish as possible shouldn’t discount the comfort of finding a fellow countryman to shoot the breeze without recourse to a dictionary.
Spain is particularly welcoming towards minority groups, such as LGBT. It has more bars per capita than most of Europe, yet one of the lowest alcoholism rates, so you can always chat with a bartender if no-one else is available.
The “paseo” is typical of the delights of Spain, where in the cool of the evenings, residents come out for a walk, a drink, maybe an ice cream, and definitely some people-watching. Life here for a retired singleton can be civilised, cultured and welcoming.
Switching to the far side of the Atlantic, it may seem a curious choice to be one of the website Business Insider’s top picks for retirement overseas. Still, like its Central-American neighbour Costa Rica, Panama has been proving popular with US and Canadian retirees.
Like many up-and-coming countries, Panama recognises the value of attracting wealthy foreigners to its Caribbean and Pacific coastal resorts. Hence its retirement visa is available to anyone with a life-long pension – not necessarily of retirement age. Then there are unique benefits for retirees from overseas, including a one-off duty exemption for importing household goods to a value of $10,000 and duty exemption for importing a new car.
The favourable tax regime and low cost of living are a big part of the appeal for many expats. You won’t pay tax on pensions and other income earned outside Panama as a foreigner while living costs are exceptionally low. Private health insurance starts from as little as £30 a month for basic coverage.
Whether a couple or single, France has so much to offer retirees.
For a start, it’s so friendly. You’ll notice when you pop out for a walk or to the shops that passers-by will give you a friendly “bonjour” whether they know you or not. Your dog will be welcome in the local cafes. You’ll soon establish a friendly relationship with shopkeepers and market stallholders.
But, you may wonder, what about Brexit? Hasn’t that put paid to our plans to retire to France?
Mais, non! As a retiree, so long as you can prove enough income to move there without working or being a burden on the state – roughly equivalent to the French minimum wage of €15,000 per year – or substantial savings – getting a “non-lucrative” visa should not be a problem. Moreover, as a British retiree receiving a UK state pension, you can access France’s world-beating healthcare system free of charge with your S1 form from the NHS.
France has among the highest number of single-person households in the EU, so you won’t be alone looking for a place to yourself. On the other hand, France’s amorous reputation is well known, so maybe you won’t be single for long…
Of all the popular emigration options within the Commonwealth, Canada offers the best hope for the single retired. While Australia and New Zealand have imposed strict age barriers making it hard to move there for the over 50s, Canada continues to roll out the red carpet.
According to the OECD’s “Better Life Index”, Canadians enjoy life, while its cities regularly top polls for “liveability”. It’s affordable too, with the cost of living closer to that of Greece than that of Ireland or the UK.
Too cold? Well, it certainly gets all four seasons, including a winter you can ski in, a dazzling spring, a properly hot summer and those gorgeous autumn tints. Indeed in terms of sunshine hours, the country averages a highly creditable 2,100 hours of sunshine per year compared to a UK average of around 1,500.
One of Britain’s best-known single people, Cliff Richard, chose to make his home in Portugal, creating a vineyard in the Algarve.
The area has well-deserved fame for its great weather, stunning beaches and exciting activities from golf to surfing, horse-riding, cycling, sailing or just relaxing at the spa in the “golden triangle” around Vilamoura.
One disappointment for 2022 is that Portugal’s “Golden Visa”, whereby you can get residency in return for buying a €500,000-plus property, will no longer be available for properties purchased in the Algarve or the cities of Lisbon or Porto.
That still leaves you some lovely coastal areas, including the dazzling island of Madeira, as well as the gorgeous country areas just a few miles inland from the Algarve. With this visa, you only need to stay in Portugal for a minimum of seven days a year, so it is incredibly flexible.
Another excellent option is the D7 residence permit which allows you to live in Portugal and travel freely within the EU. To qualify, you will need to show evidence of an income comparable to the Portuguese minimum wage (€635 per month), but this can be a pension.
Portugal also offers a Non-Habitual Residency (NHR) which allows retirees to benefit from just 10% tax on their pension. This is highly desirable as the usual Portuguese income tax can be high, ranging from 14.5% to 48%.