British expats still keen on buying property in the EU 8 years after Brexit Referendum

Despite the seismic shift in the UK’s political landscape post-Brexit, British expats’ desire to purchase property in the European Union remains undeterred. As we mark eight years since the historic referendum, the allure of the Mediterranean climate, rich cultural heritage, and appealing lifestyle of countries like Spain, France, and Portugal continues to attract British buyers. However, the legal landscape for these prospective homeowners has evolved significantly due to changes in EU law, affecting the way Brits navigate property purchases and residency.

The Lingering Allure of the EU

For many Britons, the dream of owning a slice of the European lifestyle is as compelling as ever. Spain, France, and Portugal have long been popular destinations due to their mild climates, picturesque landscapes, and vibrant communities. From the sun-drenched coasts of the Costa del Sol to the rustic charm of the French countryside and the golden beaches of the Algarve, these regions offer an idyllic retreat from the often gloomy British weather.

Furthermore, the cost of living in parts of these countries can be significantly lower than in the UK, providing an additional financial incentive. The appeal of high-quality healthcare systems, diverse cuisine, and a slower pace of life continues to resonate with British buyers, making the idea of relocating—or at least securing a holiday home—very attractive.

Navigating the Post-Brexit Legal Terrain & Currency rate matters

However, the path to acquiring property in the EU has become more complex post-Brexit. The transition from being EU citizens to third-country nationals has introduced new legal challenges and bureaucratic hurdles.

1. Residency Requirements: One of the most significant changes has been the introduction of stricter residency requirements. British citizens now need to apply for visas and residency permits to stay in EU countries for more than 90 days in a 180-day period. This regulation has particularly impacted retirees and long-term holiday homeowners who previously enjoyed the freedom of unrestricted stays.

 

2. Healthcare and Social Benefits: Access to healthcare and other social benefits has also been affected. In Spain, for example, British expats now need private health insurance to qualify for residency unless they are employed or registered as self-employed in Spain. Similarly, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) no longer provides the same coverage, necessitating comprehensive private health insurance for many British expats.

 

3. Property Purchase Process: The property purchase process itself has not fundamentally changed, but there are additional considerations. In some cases, non-EU citizens face higher taxes or different regulations when buying property. For instance, in France, buyers from outside the EU must now appoint a fiscal representative to handle certain tax affairs, which adds an extra layer of complexity.

 

4. Financial Implications: Currency fluctuations between the British pound and the Euro also play a more prominent role in the decision-making process. The financial implications of exchange rates and the additional costs associated with transferring funds across borders have become more critical considerations for British buyers.  Britain’s saw the pound lose huge value against the euro immediately after the Brexit vote was confirmed, and 8 years on has still to return to those pre-Brexit levels. Making the cost of purchasing an overseas property more costly, however the drop in property prices in many popular destinations in the EU has helped soften the price hikes. By speaking with a specialist currency exchange broker like Escape Currency it will ensure you are kept up to date with all the relevant changes in the currency market and also help you towards achieving the possible exchange rate available at that time.

Adaptation and Resilience

Despite these challenges, British buyers have shown remarkable adaptability and resilience. Many are willing to navigate the new complexities to fulfill their dream of owning property in Europe. There has been a noticeable increase in demand for legal and financial advisory services to help smooth the transition. Moreover, countries like Portugal have introduced attractive residency programs such as the Golden Visa, which offers residency to non-EU citizens who make significant investments, including property purchases.

In conclusion, eight years after the Brexit referendum, the desire among British expats to buy property in the EU remains strong. While the legal and bureaucratic landscape has undoubtedly become more challenging, the enduring appeal of the European lifestyle ensures that Britons will continue to seek out their dream homes in the sun, adapting to the new realities with determination and resilience.