The cliché of British retirees moving to warmer countries and living the lifestyle of their dreams may become a thing of the past. A third of British expats who settled abroad are planning on returning to the UK, figures suggest, in new findings published by NatWest International Personal Banking.
In the study, 97% of expats stated they are dissatisfied with their experience abroad, citing an increased cost of living as a cause for concern. Furthermore, 99% of those asked pointed towards constant financial worries as a deciding factor on a return to the UK.
The global economic downturn has particularly affected the lives of expats living in European countries, due to falling property prices on the continent affecting the value of their homes.
It isn’t just financial strain pulling pensioners back to the UK however. Another issue facing retired expats that was brought to light in the survey was missing family and friends based in the UK. Despite advances in technology improving communication lines between loved ones, it appears a video call with relatives doesn’t prove enough to quash the pang of heartache.
Furthermore, for many retirees the novelty of their new life abroad can often wear off and the yearning for a return to British culture becomes a real concern. 100% of people surveyed stated their loyalty still lies in the UK despite endeavours to make another country their home and they see their identity as a British national as a useful asset.
Dave Isley, head of NatWest IPB, commented: “It is inevitably disappointing for expats who do not feel their expectations are fulfilled by their new life overseas. 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.”
Despite evidence suggesting that the grass is not always greener, research conducted by Retirement Advantage in 2015 ranked Spain as the top destination of choice as a retirement destination for the over-50s at 24%. Following close behind were North America (22%) and France (20%).
However, it is not all negative. Despite British pensioners potentially returning home due to their expat dreams turning sour, younger people are increasingly moving abroad. The Quality of Life Index found that younger expats, aged 25 to 35, are increasing and now make up 27% of all British people living overseas.