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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Expat pensioner exodus: would the last person to leave Britain please switch off the lights?

Falling standards of living in Britain are encouraging rising numbers of pensioners to retire overseas – but experts warn expats to beware the dangers of disappointment.

Hopes of warmer weather and lower costs are two obvious motivations for leaving Britain when you no longer need to go to work every day – and recent legal changes have made it easier for expats to take their pensions with them.

More than 1m British passport holders are believed to have retired overseas and Standard Life reports that Spain remains the most popular destination – despite Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) statistics which show it is also the country where Britons abroad are most likely to get into trouble.

For example, according to the FCO, while there are slightly fewer British residents in Spain than America, 50pc more Britons were arrested in Spain than America last year. More than five times as many Britons were hospitalised in Spain and a total of 1,786 died there, compared to 148 in America.

One explanation is that 13.3m Britons visited Spain on holiday, compared to 5.25m British holidaymakers in America. Elsewhere, Australia was the second most popular retirement destination, while France was pushed into fourth place by America, with Ireland coming fifth. more