Six million Brits considering retiring abroad as expats are being urged to think plan their moves carefully to avoid making financial and lifestyle mistakes.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has linked up with Channel 4 TV show A Place In The Sun to offer expert advice about moving overseas.
Research by the TV show reveals Spain, Portugal and France are regaining popularity with expats after a swing towards moving to more exotic locations.
The FCO is concerned too few potential expats are properly prepared before they leave for their new home.
A survey found only 32% carried out their own research before moving and less than 10% reviewed their finances prior to leaving the UK.
Lack of research
James Duddridge, Minister for Consular Affairs, explained moving overseas is a lot different from planning a long holiday and requires some serious research before leaving the country.
“Moving overseas leads to people having to make a lot of practical lifestyle changes,” he said. “Most are for the better but in some countries, expats have to consider cultural and legal implications of their decisions that they may take for granted at home.
“Relocating permanently involves a lot more than just swapping a home in Britain with one in another country, and our experience shows many people are not fully prepared for their new lives.”
The FCO survey also disclosed nearly half of British expats taking part wished that they had more realistic expectations of what moving abroad permanently really meant to them.
Lack of planning also leads many expats into failing to sort out their personal affairs properly back home.
“I wish I had thought more before I moved, said Carolle Hallett-Mobbs, editor of ExpatChild.com, who moved to South Africa a year ago.
“I have spoken to people who have forgotten to settle their utility bills and cancel subscriptions before moving and then closed their bank accounts so they can’t pay the companies in Sterling.”
Visit the Living In guides for country-by-country details.
Andy Bridge, managing director of A Place in the Sun, said: “It seems the expats who most enjoy their new lives are those who did their research before moving. That includes learning the local language and taking independent financial and legal advice about setting up home.”