The older generation may wish to go back, but Palma is an attractive place for the younger generation. | J. Aguirre


According to new research, a high number of people hoping to retire abroad have been left feeling unfulfilled and will return to the UK. NatWest research has found that a third of British pensioners who moved abroad, dreaming of a retirement in another country, are planning to return to the UK. It seems that the reality has not measured up to expectations, with 25% of expat pensioners taking part in NatWest’s Quality of Life Index research admitting so.

Many who spent their working lives dreaming of sunnier climates to retire to have not found the experience as enjoyable as they had hoped. In the study, 33% said they are planning to return back to the UK, while another 23% are considering returning sometime in the future.

Dave Isley, head of NatWest International Personal Banking, said it was crucial for anyone planning a move abroad to do their research about exactly what living abroad would entail for them in order to make an informed decision about whether it’s a good move. "It is important that people do not expect an extended holiday when they plan their new life away from the UK."

Financial concerns are the main reason retired expatriates are planning to return to the UK. Of those surveyed a massive 97% admitted that the cost of living in their chosen country was higher than they had expected. The global economic downturn has particularly affected expats living in European countries where property prices have been falling.

It is not just money that is pulling pensioners back to the UK though. An overwhelming 94% of retired expats said they missed their family and friends, while three out of four said they missed British culture. All of the people surveyed said their loyalty still lies with the UK despite living abroad, and that they see their identity as a British national as a useful asset.

Spain remains the most popular retirement destination for Britons according to research by Retirement Advantage last year. The survey found that 24% of the over-50s who would retire abroad picked Spain as their favoured destination, followed by North America at 22% and France at 20%.

While Britain’s pensioners may be returning home after their expatriate dreams turned sour, younger people are increasingly moving abroad. NatWest’s research found that the number of expats aged 25-35 is increasing. That age group now makes up 27% of all British people living abroad.