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Complete guide to obtaining a visa to retire in the United Kingdom the required documents, and the best places for retirees

The United Kingdom is an island nation in northwestern Europe comprised of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. The UK appeals to expats due to its location and access to other European countries. 

The UK has over 15.5 million retired citizens, including retired foreigners, and the number of requests for retirement in the UK keeps increasing every year.

To learn more about the retirement opportunities in the United Kingdom, continue to read this article.

Does the United Kingdom Have a Retirement Visa?

The UK has canceled the retirement visa program, which was known as “the retired persons of independent means permit.” Under this permit, anyone who needs a visa to stay in the United Kingdom could apply for retirement in the country if they prove they have a minimum income of £25,000 a year and close connections to the UK.

This program is now closed and does not accept new applicants. Still, individuals that already have permission to stay in the United Kingdom as retired persons of independent means can apply for an extension.
The maximum period that the retired persons of independent mean permit can be extended is 5 years.

What Are Other Alternatives to the United Kingdom Retirement Visa?

Since the United Kingdom has closed the retirement program, foreign nationals must look for other alternative ways that will allow them to move to the UK permanently. One of the ways to retire in the UK is by getting a residence permit.

*Before starting any process, you must check to see if you need a UK visa to enter the country and apply for the type of visa you want (work, business, settlement, study, etc.). 

After living in the UK for five years under a valid temporary visa, you can apply for an “Indefinite Leave to Remain (Settlement Visa).”

An Indefinite Leave to Remain (ILR) enables its holder to settle in the United Kingdom for an indefinite period of time.

EU/EFTA Citizens Retiring in the United Kingdom

Since December 2020, with the exit of Britain from the European Union, nationals of EU/EFTA can no longer move freely to the UK. Those already living in the UK could apply for retirement by June 30, 2021. This procedure is now officially closed

If you are a retired citizen living in the UK but do not have access to the state pension, you need to finance yourself through a private pension, a state pension from your home country, or your savings. 

Who Is Eligible For a Retirement Visa in the United Kingdom?

You can retire in the United Kingdom once you meet the following criteria:

  • You can prove that you have the necessary financial means to support yourself and your dependents indefinitely from your own resources and without working or benefiting from public funds.
  • You must be able to transfer your income to the UK and convert it to sterling.
  • You have health insurance valid in the United Kingdom.
  • You have a police clearance document proving you have not been charged or sentenced for serious crimes.

How Much Money You Need to Retire in the United Kingdom?

The United Kingdom is ranked the 27th most expensive country to live in, so you should be prepared to spend more than you might have thought. If you live alone, your monthly expenses will be lower.

For example, as a single person, you would spend around $115 to $380 per month on utilities such as electricity, water, heating, etc., whereas for rent, you would spend around $545 to $2180, depending on where you live.

If you decide to live with your dependents, your monthly expenses will double, but that should not be a problem if you know how to manage your finances.

To avoid spending money on rent, you can purchase an apartment in or outside the city centre. The apartment prices per m2 in the UK go from $2060 to $16,100

Here is a presentation of the average living costs in the United Kingdom:

ACCOMMODATION (rent)Monthly Cost
Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Center$1070
Apartment (1 bedroom) Outside of Center$800
Apartment (3 bedrooms) in City Center$1940
Apartment (3 bedrooms) Outside of Center $1420
ACCOMMODATIONPRICE per m2
Price for purchasing an apartment in City Centre$4940
Price for purchasing an apartment Outside of Centre$3760
FOODCOSTS
Milk$1.15
Rice $1.65
Eggs$2.42
Tomato$2.38
Potato$1.31
Apples (kg)$2.27
UTILITIESMONTHLY COSTS (85m2)
Electricity, Water, Heating, Cooling, Garbage$210

Can I Work in the United Kingdom as a Retiree?

Once you decide to retire in the United Kingdom, you will not be allowed to be employed or take an active interest in the running of any business in the UK or other countries. However, you are allowed to participate in a limited amount of voluntary charity work only if it is unpaid and part-time. 

Can I Bring my Dependents to the United Kingdom?

You can bring your dependents (spouse, children, parents) together with you on the condition that they do not conduct any type of employment. 

Healthcare in The United Kingdom

Healthcare in the United Kingdom is very developed. This is due to the fact that each country (England, Northern Ireland, Scotland, and Wales) has its own systems of publicly funded healthcare. Thus, the healthcare policies and priorities differ depending on what part of the UK you will settle in.

However, despite the separate health services for each country, the United Kingdom’s healthcare was ranked among the bests in the world in certain categories. 

NHS provides most healthcare in the United Kingdom, and each NHS system uses general practitioners to provide primary healthcare services. Expats living in the UK will have access to standard healthcare through the NHS.

In many cases, the public sector provides free ambulance services for emergencies, but there are different types of services that citizens must pay for out of their own pocket.

The UK also has a full range of private medical services available in some locations, but the coverage of private medical insurance in the UK is often limited.

This results in many insured citizens still going to an NHS general practitioner, obtaining NHS prescriptions, or using the NHS emergency department.

What Are The Best Places for Retirees in the United Kingdom?

The United Kingdom has many famous places where expats can find everything they need for a comfortable and relaxing life. Depending on your lifestyle preferences, you can settle in one of the four geographical parts of the UK. Here are some of the best places for retirement in the UK.

Birmingham

If you want to find a city with cool temperatures during the summer, a developed economy, and great architecture, Birmingham is the one for you. In Birmingham, you can enjoy world-class theatre, concerts, and ballet in one place. The city has countless restaurants, independent venues, and plenty of bars and cafes.

Glasgow

A cultural hub and one of the friendliest cities in the world, Glasgow is the right choice for spending the golden days. The city is home to dynamic art scenes and is known for its nightlife. Glasgow is renowned for its elegance of the Victorian architecture and legendary music scene with iconic venues.

Glasgow has relatively low prices making it an affordable place for everyone who wants to retire here.

Oxford

Oxford is a city in England with an estimated population of more150,000. It is a city of stunning architecture, history, and culture. In Oxford, you will find ancient and modern colleges, museums and galleries, and beautiful gardens. Oxford has plenty of green spaces where you can relax and enjoy a day surrounded by nature.

To move to Oxford, you must have a considerable amount of savings, because the city can be a bit expensive for most people. 

Edinburgh

Scotland has many cities that are worth moving to, and Edinburgh is definitely one of them. The capital city of Scotland is a great place to spend your retirement if you are looking for a city with great food, stunning views, a relaxed lifestyle, and dynamic nightlife. 

Although Edinburgh is small, it has many amazing attractions, historic sites, friendly and welcoming people, and was voted as one of the best cities to live in the UK.

Manchester

There are many good things about Manchester besides the famous football teams. Manchester is a diverse, energetic, and one of the most exciting cities in the UK. The city displays a variety of architectural styles, and you will not be boring because there are plenty of fun things to do and unique places to visit. 

Besides all the beautiful things the city offers, the living costs in Manchester are relatively low and affordable. 

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