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A life after Brexit - plenty of hope

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We recently began airing a new series of A Place In The Sun and the response to the new episodes has been phenomenal. Of course, with the new lockdown and cold weather outside, the idea of an hour of ‘feel good’ escapism in front of the TV is pretty attractive to most. One of my recent shows was of a property search that I undertook in Lanzarote and social media users really seemed to engage with it. There was however an undoubtable theme to some of the comments on my Instagram and twitter feeds.

Here’s a good example;

“Is there any point now we’ve left the EU, we can’t move to anywhere in Europe now, (it’s) scuppered my plans”

The disappointment and desperation was palpable. Sure, things were much better before when we were part of the EU and I certainly didn’t vote for this catastrophic exit, but I’m determined to help others see that a possible move to other European climes is still possible and within our grasp.

First and foremost, as a British national you are still able to buy property throughout Europe. Taking this right away was never under threat.

Secondly, even before considering a visa, you will be able to stay and live in your holiday home for up to 90 days in any rolling 180-day period. That’s the best part of 3 months in every 6 which means you can escape the cold winter months.

The reality is that for some, their time overseas may be cut shorter. Many property owners will now be encouraged to travel back to the UK more frequently in order to comply with this rule, but this still gives you up 6 months total in any year to spend in your holiday home.

In my experience, huge numbers of second home-owners still travel back to the UK for various reasons in the winter as it’s certainly not sunbathing weather on The Costas in January – I remember showing a couple some properties in Mijas Pueblo just few years back and it started to snow, (here’s a little tip, if you want to use your second home in the cooler months, keep a lookout for heating – you’d be surprised how many people get caught out!)

A point to note however is that this rule of 90 days in any rolling 180 includes time spent in other European countries so worth bearing in mind if you are trying to squeeze every single day of your allotted 90 and plan to travel overland as this will eat up some of your precious allowance.

Many people who travel this way do so because they are taking pets and I’m afraid ‘Pet Passports’ have indeed been scrapped. Instead, you will need an Animal Health Certificate (AHC) which is valid for 4 months and must be obtained 10 days prior to travel and is issued by a vet. It’s valid for a single trip into The EU and for onward travel plus your return home.

For health insurance your EHIC card will still be valid until it expires (the date is on your card). There will be a new version called the GHIC but details are yet to be confirmed. Private travel and health insurance is a must at this stage I’d say.

To put this into perspective – us Brits have been buying property in Florida in huge numbers for decades. There was never a formal agreement allowing free movement and there have always been time restrictions on how long you could stay without the required visa. Healthcare has always been provided by private insurance. It didn’t, and hasn’t stopped the demand but I appreciate there are now further costs involved.

The same will be the case for Europe, only the weather in the winter might not be as warm but the travel and costs will be far cheaper. Yes, we’ve had some of our rights taken away in terms of how long we can spend casually in our chosen destination but practically most of us still want to return home at some stage, so from now on we’ll have to do it in more of a planned way and perhaps more frequently.

For those of you looking for a permanent relocation there will definitely be formalities to go through but it is still very much possible with the right advice. Our legal teams in all of our territories across Europe are busy finalising their guides and advice now that the ‘Exit Deal’ has been signed and I look forward to reporting back to you on this over the coming weeks.

Stay tuned…