Would-be expats are flocking to France, Spain and other favourite EU destinations in a bid to stake their claim as European citizens before a Brexit cut-off drops into place.
International movers and financial advisers claim inquiries from people who want to relocate from the UK to the EU are up around 25% in recent months.
And on expat organiser in France says he has seen a flood of Brits looking to buy homes.
Roger Boaden, of Expat Citizens Rights in the EU, said: “If free movement goes and the UK becomes a third country, then unless there is a deal the Schengen rules come into play and the Schengen rules can be severe. It is a big area of doubt”.
Another expat lobbyist, Sue Wilson of Bremain in Spain, supported his views.
Golden age of retirement over
“People who have had a dream for many years to retire to Spain are keen to do so while they still can,” she said.
But unless Britain can carve a deal out of the Brexit talks, many see exodus of retirees moving to the sunshine ending.
“The golden age of British retirees heading to the Costas is probably over,” said John Springford at the Centre for European Reform.
Along with other experts, he considers EU retirement destinations will not take so many British retirees without some agreement over their workers have access to UK jobs.
“Retirees are expensive. Spain would not allow lots of Brits to retire there and use their health system unless young Spanish people could work in the UK,” said Springford. “Without free movement it is unlikely we would have retirement rights in Europe.”
No rights guaranteed
The latest statistics reveal out of 300,000 British expats in Spain, 40% are retired, as are a fifth of the 150,000 who live in France.
Other countries with high numbers of aging British expats include Ireland, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Cyprus.
The future rights of British expats in Europe are part of the next bout of Brexit talks in Brussels this week.
The Home Office confirmed that talks were ongoing without any agreement at this stage.
The spokesman also explained that Britain and the EU would have put specific immigration laws in place to allow British and EU citizens to retire as expats after Brexit.