Advice for expats heading home

Returning to the UK? You need an exit plan.

While some settle down for life, most retired expats want to return back to the UK at some point, perhaps to be closer to family. And the impact of decreasing house prices in parts of Europe, Brexit and, even, climate change mean that increasing numbers of expats are now thinking about moving home sooner rather than later.

But there’s no doubt sorting finances, healthcare and entitlements, as well as the tricky task of finding a new place to live, is complicated and time-consuming without a proper plan.

“When you combine a house move and a country move, it is stressful. You have to change everything, your driving licence, bank, insurances, doctor, dentist, e-mail, everything. Your life,” says Lesley Jones who, with her husband Paul, moved back to the UK in February 2020, after 18 fantastic years enjoying the sunshine, sea and golf courses in Cyprus.

But while there is a lot to do, don’t be daunted. You just need the right support and a plan. Here are some of the things you need to consider:


  • One of the first steps is securing or reactivating a British bank account to transfer your money into. Once you are resettled in the UK be sure to close your bank accounts abroad.
  • Contact the UK Department of Work and Pensions to ensure you retain access to money you are entitled to.
  • Shop around to secure the best exchange rates.

Find more tips on expat finances


  • To access the NHS for free you have to prove you’ve returned to live here and that you meet the ordinary residence test.
  • You’ll need to register with a GP, dentist and optician when you arrive
  • Stock up on plenty of medication, if you need it, before you travel

Get more help on expat healthcare


Currently the impact of Brexit can be felt in increased delays, expect:

  • Slow property exchanges and delays in legalities and documentation
  • Potential increases in costs and tariffs
  • Difficulty sourcing international removal firms – book well in advance

Find more advice on mitigating the impact of Brexit

A new home

  • Where do you want to move back to? Close to friends and family? Or to a city, the coast or the countryside?
  • Consider you needs now and in the future – do you want a house, apartment or retirement development?
  • Explore properties online – some developers offer a virtual tour to bring a property to life.

“You know how time passes faster and faster as we get older – 10 years will pass in the blink of an eye – so don’t buy your next home for now – buy it thinking ‘will I still want to be here in 10 or even 20 years’ time? Future proof your life.’  Lesley Jones.

Read Lesley’s story and more of her insights.

Explore McCarthy Stone retirement properties for sale or rent from wherever you are in the world. Read more advice for returning expats.

Who is McCarthy Stone?

McCarthy Stone is the UK’s leading developer of retirement communities offering retirement properties to rent or for sale. For more information, please visit McCarthy  Stone.


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