The number of British expats living in Spain has dropped by 40%, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.
What’s more, between 2012 and 2017, the number of Britons leaving Spain outstripped those who arrived. This exodus is being blamed on the uncertainty caused by Brexit, and worries over what will happen once the UK has officially left the European Union, as well as the price of sterling falling against the euro, which has made living overseas more expensive than ever.
These difficulties have led to many expats returning to Britain. However, many older expats have found they can’t afford to purchase a home, with house prices increasing in most UK locations since they left.
As a result, there has been a rise in older people choosing to rent on their return from Europe, according to Girlings Retirement Rentals. It is a trend that Gillian Girling, Girlings Chief Executive, expects to continue as the full impact of Brexit is felt over the next few years.
“Many people moving abroad sell their UK home to buy overseas,” she said. “However, those wanting to return can find they are priced out of the housing market, as prices have risen over the past decade. Some can find it difficult to sell their overseas property or end up getting much less than they paid originally, as the housing markets in popular expat areas such as Spain, Portugal and Greece, have seen a downturn since the financial crash in 2007.”
Retirement developments are offering a lifeline for some of those struggling to buy a property. These developments – which are typically designed for ease of living and aim to offer a community of likeminded people - usually offer most apartments on assured (lifetime) tenancies, which helps to provide stability and reassurance. Rents often involve all maintenance costs, while service charges aren’t usually applied. In addition, many developments include communal areas and most organise social outings, helping to provide an active social life for those who wish to tap into it.
Consequently, such developments hold an appeal for older expats who are looking to settle back into British life after spending time abroad.
“Often expats have been away a long time and no longer have any family ties here,” Girling said. “If people are unsure where to settle, they can try somewhere first before deciding if it’s right for them. Renting gives you the option to move without sales fees and costs.”