Homeowners Abroad-from Covid chaos to Brexit bluster

Just at the time we might be able to travel again
and move about a bit more freely at some stage in 2021, then another challenge
rears its head for Continental European homeowners.


From January 2021 the right to free movement
guaranteed under EU rules ends for UK residents, who will only be able to
remain within the Schengen-free zone (encapsulating most EU member countries),
for a maximum of 3 months, within each six month period, regardless of whether
a post-Brexit trade deal is done or not.

And this is irrespective of whether it is for work
or leisure, in that country or any other in the same Schengen zone. There is a
180 day allowance over the entire year.

This is a challenge for people who have got used to
homeworking and the idea that work can be non-location specific, as has become
more ingrained in our psyche. This means some Brits are feeling the draw to
move to and work from countries like France, Spain or Portugal, potentially
still for UK-based enterprises.

However in spite of this, individual EU countries
have some discretion, with some offering longer stays for non-Europeans who
invest in property above a minimum threshold level. Or in other assets. This
arrangement has been dubbed a Golden Visa.

Currently a work-around is for Britons to change
their formal residence from Britain to one of the 27 members. Although from
1.1.2021 this becomes more complicated.

There are other also other considerations, like,
taxation. The UK currently has a reasonable taxation system and some
Continental European countries have higher personal taxation regimes. Becoming
resident of another EU country can mean being taxed in that country on
worldwide income and potentially assets too.

Then there are healthcare and pensions to consider.
On the upside, a replacement for the EHIC card may yet still come, but in the
meantime it’s a question of ensuring travel insurance covers medical needs,
which we tend to do anyway. Expats might incur extra charges for Private
Pensions being paid into foreign bank accounts (although State Pension payment
are free).

What isn’t yet clear – given no agreement has yet
been reached on the future relationship between the UK and the EU – is to what
extent bi-lateral agreements between countries might be reached. Countries like
Spain and Portugal have long-standing relationships with the UK and will want
to maintain the status quo. London is France’s ‘second city’ on account of the
number of French people living in the city, so has vested interests.

What are your thoughts?

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