Brexit upheaval may drive UK expats to Mexico, Central America

Graphic: Getty
Graphic: Getty

The expat retiree population in Mexico and Central America has been mostly from the U.S., but the Brexit crisis has U.K. expats thinking about this part of the world.

While many expats from England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland may have considered a return to the U.K., the nation’s exit from the European Union presents challenges that make other countries look appealing.

U.K. expats who are retired have been rushing to settle in European countries such as Spain, Portugal and France before the Brexit deadline, according to financial advisers quoted in the Guardian. They believe that such a move will become significantly more difficult in the future.

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But many are finding fresh fields where American and Canadian retirees have settled for years.

In general, real estate prices in the region are affordable and the lifestyle is laid back and enjoyable, with property investment fairly straightforward, according to emigrate.co.uk.

“There’s a huge choice of surroundings, from beachside through rural to lush, green mountain-backed towns, and the cities are full of life and color as well as home to already established expat communities,” according to the site, which advises world travelers from the United Kingdom.

For expats from north of the border, Mexico is a longtime favorite for its strong economy, booming tourism industry and large, friendly expat communities.

“Buying a home is straightforward, and there’s plenty of advice available from retirees who’ve been there and done that,” states the story posted Friday. “For property investors, it’s considered a stable, safe region.”

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Central American counties present more choices for expats.

Costa Rica is known as one the world’s most economically and politically stable countries, with spectacular scenery and an affordable cost of living.

Belize’s huge advantage is that it’s English-speaking and the exchange rate is pegged to the U.S. dollar at 1.2, meaning consumers don’t worry about losing out on widely fluctuating rates. Expatriates have the same property rights as citizens and a fast-growing tourism industry give them job opportunities.

Panama’s growing popularity with expats is in part due to the strategic importance of the Panama Canal. For entrepreneurs, opportunities in the commercial as well as the tourism sector are available.

Nicaragua’s recent headlines of political unrest and violence has been off putting. But emigrate.co.uk says it reputation for danger is “somewhat undeserved.” While expats this year found themselves in the crossfire of a fierce political resistance movement, commenters on social media say that for now, most violence has blown over and properties are for sale at bargain prices.

“Traveling in Nicaragua is safe, cheaper than before the crisis, and … as long as you do not get involved in political issues you will be fine,” wrote one Facebook group member.

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