Where to Retire in the UK

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Retirement-KeyWhen I sat down to write about where to retire in the UK, I thought I’d simply tell you what I liked best about the British Isles. Truth be known, I really didn’t know where to start. This assortment of islands is so diverse that it almost feels like a bag of my favourite sweets; each choice is tantalising and delectable in its own right, but often completely different from the next.

Take the rugged Scottish Highlands; majestic peaks frame pools so clear and turquoise they could be in the Caribbean, the air crisp with a hint of lavender, this noble landscape makes you feel alive. Surely this is the best place to retire in the UK? But what about the pagan mysticism of Wales and the South-West, where undiscovered beaches look out into the crashing Atlantic and centuries of magic seems to sparkle on the waves. And then there are our ancient cities, like York, where Tudor oaks beam and Victorian cobbles harmonise with modern feats of engineering and you can almost hear the history.

And this is the problem, albeit a fantastic dilemma to be faced with; the UK is so diverse with its natural beauty, its historical heritage and its hidden treasures that just where should you retire in the UK?

According to recent research by insurers ‘Prudential’, the best place to retire in the UK is Devon. I can completely understand why. Aside from the stunning coastline, chocolate box cottages and indulgent cream-teas, Devon’s rural location has a low crime rate, above average numbers of healthcare workers and pensioners with a longer life expectancy- with the average 65-year-old woman living another 23 years and a 65-year-old man another 20.[1] I personally love Devon, especially fishing towns of Dartmoor and Brixham, so if I had to choose where to retire in the UK, this area of the South-West would be a top contender.

However, ultimately, the choice should be yours and yours alone. Retiring to a part of the UK you once visited on holiday is actually a huge gamble. More to the point, when deciding where to retire in the UK, you need to ensure that the move is beneficial to you and will enable you to fulfill your retirement goals.

retirement-savingsMy recommendation is to research the move: Look at how much you’ll save, what’s on offer in your chosen area and what you potentially will miss about your current location.

If you’re looking to save money, some areas will help you achieve this, whereas some will eat away at your retirement pot. For example, I live in the most central county in the UK, Rutland. Whilst this rural location is picture perfect (and the source of some of the best food in Britain) it is pricey. For example, in 2014, Rutland had the second highest Council Tax charge in the country, only topped by Weymouth in Dorset. If you’re trying to save money in retirement, increasing your bills is not the way to go! The irony with Rutland is that if you moved just a few miles over the border into Leicestershire (equally beautiful in its rural villages and home of the Melton Mowbray Pork Pie) you would end up paying the lowest Council Tax in the country![2] My point here is that it pays to do your research.

Downsizing your home always seems like an obvious way to save money, but again, you must do your research. I’m not sure if it’s global knowledge, but anyone who has spent some time in the UK will know that there is a huge north-south divide, and I’m not just talking about rival football teams! For example, house-prices in the North-East are nearly 50% cheaper than a comparable home in the South-East of the country. If you were thinking of downsizing and moving from the north to the south, you may find that you are actually out of pocket! Don’t just go by general house-prices either; certain areas, such as Sandbanks in Dorset, are incredibly desirable places to live, so come with a less than appealing price tag!

Research is also critical in terms of amenities. Make sure you look into the local hospitals, the cost of local food shopping and the availability of entertainment- after all, you want to enjoy your retirement, not be stuck in a location that has nothing to offer. Travel is also an important consideration, especially if you are planning on moving away from your family, as it could cost you a great deal of time and money to visit your loved ones.

Of course, ultimately, your wellbeing and happiness are the two most important considerations when thinking of where to retire in the UK. My advice here is to try before you buy. Why not take some time to explore the diversity that the British Isles have to offer? Rather than moving for good, take several short breaks and broaden your knowledge of what’s on offer. You could even try renting a home in a location for a few months, to get a real feel for your surroundings. Websites like www.homeexchange.com mean that you can now swap homes with anyone around the world, completely cutting your accommodation costs and giving you a huge degree of flexibility whilst you’re deciding where to retire in the UK.

[1] Prudential research 201i

[2] The Telegraph, Kate Palmer, 02/08/14

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