By Mike Meade a member of one of the SY2E – Remain in the EU groups.
It will depend on personal circumstances but for most it will become more expensive to live in the EU after Brexit.
People legally working in their host country will be earning local currency and paying into that country’s national health system, so their problems are fewer.
But that’s not everyone, and it’s certainly not the case for retirees or others with pensions, UK investments or other sterling incomes.
– no one denies that sterling will go down against the euro. Some (like UK-based exporters) think that might be a good thing. But it’s certainly not good for expats in Europe with sterling investments and incomes.
I remember when the €/£ exchange rate was almost 1.50/1. So if you had £200,000 to spend on a property in the euro-zone you could get a €300,000 house.
Most economists and financial experts predict a movement towards €/£ parity after Brexit. This would mean that your £200,000 would only buy you a €200,000 property.
Same for everything else from rent to your car to shopping or a meal at a restaurant. If your income or savings are in sterling, everything will become more expensive for you in the euro-zone.
Even if parity doesn’t happen, sterling is expected to slide against the euro, at least for a few years so there will be an effect.
– Even more important is the added cost of essentials such as health care. It’s hardly likely that reciprocal healthcare arrangements will endure after Brexit. Why would Britain be the only non-EU country to keep this advantage? It won’t happen overnight but within 2 or 3 years expect to lose any reciprocal healthcare benefits you may now have under EU arrangements, including EHIC rights.
This will mean than British expats who are not legally working in their host country and therefore not paying into the national healthcare system will require private insurance for the rest of their lives whereas at the moment retirees are covered for free under the national systems from retirement age. As you get older, private insurance becomes very expensive indeed. Many will not be able to afford it.
– then there are unknowns like ancillary expenses. Will your UK driving licence still be valid if you are a resident of Italy, Spain or France? Why would it? Will you be able to swap it for a local one or will you have to take the local test in the local language? Swiss and Norwegians do in France, so why not Britons after Brexit? That comes at a cost as will other formalities.
– then there is a whole string of unknowns such as the necessity and expense of getting a resident’s permit. The cost will probably be small in monetary value, but big in frustration.
Things for Brits in the EU can’t go any other way than the way they are now for all non-EU residents of EU countries. Why wouldn’t they?