Retiring to Spain
More people are retiring to Spain from all over northern Europe than ever before, it has become the number 1 destination for pensioners looking to spend their retirement years abroad. Find out how to avoid the pitfalls and make it a worthwhile and positive experience.
The first reason for retiring to Spain probably has a lot to do with the weather. After suffering a cold winter in northern Europe many peoplelook toward warmer climes. Not only is it a lot more pleasant but as wegrow older our bodies certainly benefit from the higher temperatures as do ourpockets with the lower fuel bills. Many people report that their arthritisand other aches and pains are much improved by their life in the sun.
The cost of living is another important consideration as, although prices in Spainhave undoubtedly risen in the last few years, so they have in the U.K and generallyspeaking ones pension does go further in Spain. Although the winters can be coldand wet they are never as cold as northern Europe so less is spent on fuel.
If you are already in receipt of your winter fuel allowance before you leavethe U.K. then this can still be claimed from Spain although you will probably find yourself keeping it to help pay the cost of your airconditioning in the summer! Additionally the cost of running a car in Spainis a lot less than in the U.K. so that is another added bonus.
Whilst property prices have rocketed on the Costa del Sol it is stillpossible to sell your U.K. home, buy somewhere very acceptable in Spainand pocket a sizeable chunk to help cushion your retirement years whichis an obvious incentive to anyone contemplating retiring to Spain. Areas of inlandSpain are still very reasonably priced and the Costa de Luz is emergingas a good alternative to the Costa del Sol. Property prices there are stillaffordable but planned development looks as though they may well beset to rise thus making it a good area to invest in at the momentThe other reason many people have for retiring to Spain is something less easyto define but none the less important, it is the "quality of life." This may meandifferent things to different people but even so those who have moved to Spain generally agree that there is an all important something here which has made life betterfor them. Perhaps it is the more relaxed attitude to life, along with plentyof sunshine and longer daylight hours. Certainly the pace of life is slower hereand on the whole less stressful than "back home." So having decided you are retiring to Spain, what is the next step? The mostimportant is decide which part of Spain you wish to move to. It is a large and varied country with something to offer everyone. Do you want to live in a typical Spanish community, a small pueblo somewhere or perhapsbuy a Finca with plenty of space and peace and quiet, or like the majorityof ex-pats would you prefer to gravitate towards the more popular Costaswith the peace of mind that you will be surrounded by like minded people?The Internet gives you the unprecedented opportunity to research areasof interest without having to leave home but once you have decided on the areafor you then the foot slogging begins. Try to visit your area of choice at different times of the year and any properties you wish to view at differenttimes of the day, to see where the sun falls etc. In the winter it canget quite cold even on the coast and you don't want to buy somewherethat sees no sun at that time of the year or alternatively that has no shade in the summer.
Also take into account the surrounding area and neighbours. The Spanish,as lovely as they are, are a noisy, gregarious nation with littleunderstanding of the northern European's need for privacy and peace. You willnot change this attitude, nor do we have a right to try, so if you don'tlike it then don't buy an apartment in a basically Spanish enclave butlook for somewhere where you will be surrounded by like minded people.
If you are visiting out of season then try to find out what the area islike in July and August as you may not wish to cope with an explosion of tourists.
Take into account the number a visitors you are likely to have and be sure tobuy somewhere with sufficient space, it is surprising how many friends yousuddenly have when you retire to Spain! You will also of course want your family to visit, in fact the tug of those you have left behind youcan be very strong and something you need to think seriously about beforetaking the final step.
The financial implications of retiring to Spain are also something that needserious consideration. First and foremost you will be able to have your pensionpaid into a Spanish bank account and by law no commissions are chargeableon such income. The Department for Overseas Pensions in Newcastle willbe able to advise you on the procedure. Be aware that the inheritance tax, capital gains and other tax differences are very, very, different from the UK so it is advisable to get good legal and financial advice on thesematters and to make out a will. Inheritance tax in particular can be a verythorny issue as in Spain it has to be paid on the death of the first partner and the jointly owned property can not be sold until this has been paid!In addition be sure to get proper legal advice when purchasing your property. A good legal advisor is worthhis weight in gold and may save you a lot of money in the long run. The best way to find a reliable person is by recommendation as unfortunately there are a lot of unscrupulous people only to happy to part a "fool and his money."
The health care system in Spain is generally very good and of course as a U.K. pensioner you have full entitlement to all it offers. You will need to get aform E 121 before leaving the U.K. which you then take to your nearestInstituto Nacional de Seguridad Social (INSS) office for registration.
You will then be issued with a medical card which you must produce if you require treatment anywhere and this you will then receive free of charge.
Also bear in mind that after quite a short absence from the UK, National Health services will not be available to a returning or holidaying expat. and the European Health card (E111 as was) must be obtained for visits to the UK.
On reflection then retiring to Spain can be a very positive move. Coming as itdoes at a period in your life when it would be all too easy to sit backand vegetate the pleasure and excitement from all the new experiences can have a very positive effect if well planned and executed.
Try your best to learn some Spanish not only is the mental stimulationgood for the old grey matter but it will make your life in Spain moreenjoyable and rewarding. The Spanish are basically very tolerant of all the foreigners that regularly and often permanently invade their shoresbut they do appreciate you making some effort to speak their lingo,it is only polite really.
Remember you are retiring to Spain, it is not Bournemouth with the sunshine!The Spanish culture and attitude to life is different to ours so acceptthat and don't make your life miserable by trying to change it. So oftenyou hear the lament,"it wouldn't be allowed in England" well just accept the fact that you are not in Englandand people do things differently in different countries. After all it isyour decision to retire to Spain so relax and enjoy it.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Article submitted by Ruth Polak the owner of www.costadelsol-vacationrentals.comA web site specializing in holiday villas and apartments on the Costa del Sol and in Rural Andalucia. You will also find lots of information about Spain and Andalucia, in particular.