There are reportedly over 30,000 British retirees living in Italy – and who can blame them!  Imagine retiring to bask in the glorious countryside of Italy where you’re surrounded by spectacular views and enveloped in an ideal climate, where you can eat and drink the very best food and wine in the world, and enjoy a culture so steeped in tradition and history to be truly fascinating.

If the thought of making Italy home in retirement also appeals to you, here’s some important advice for Brits retiring to Italy.

In this article we will cover everything from your pension income to fluctuating exchange rates, and from making wills to making sure you keep in touch with friends and family.

As Italy is in Europe there is technically nothing stopping Britons calling it home, you can therefore plan your retirement to Italy safe in the knowledge that as long as you’re not on the run from the British police, you will be accepted into the arms of the Italians!  One thing you do need to bear in mind before you go however is healthcare.  There is a certain level of reciprocal agreement between the UK and major nations within the EU relating to the free provision of healthcare to retirees moving to live in another EU nation – but this agreement only goes so far.

You may only be eligible for basic and emergency care free of charge and so you may need to make up the shortfall yourself, either in cash or through a health insurance policy.  If you decide to go for the former option, think about the fact that one day you may be in need of longer term or more critical care, and that this can cost a lot of money.  If you look at health insurance, look sooner rather than later as many of the larger insurers stop taking on new clients over the age of 60 or 65.

The good news for Brits retiring to live in Italy is that you can claim your UK state pension there, that it is index linked and can be paid into an Italian bank account.  If you have income from other sources such as rental income from a property, private pension income or dividends from investments, find out from your accountant or financial adviser whether you can have these paid into an Italian account or whether they will still go into your British bank account.

If you are receiving an income in pounds you need to be aware that every time you draw on that in euros or every time pounds are transferred from your UK account into your Italian euro account you will be facing exchange rate fluctuations and potential transfer charges.  These can really begin to erode the value of your money immediately and so you have to look very carefully at your banking arrangements.  There are currency specialists out there who can arrange larger transfers, but also find out what your bank can do for you for regular monthly payments.

When you’re thinking about where in Italy to settle, think about the accessibility of the location and any property you consider from two angles.  Firstly whilst you’re fit and active now, in 20 years time you may find it harder to get out and about, what this means is that you might like to make sure you’re within reach of essential services and amenities from a doctor’s surgery to a grocery shop.  Secondly, when you announce to friends and family that you’re retiring abroad, be prepared to be inundated with visitors on a regular basis.  Your children and grandchildren will want to keep in touch and your friends will want to come and test out your new life abroad – so make sure you’re not too far from decent transport links otherwise all that to-ing and fro-ing from the airport could become tiresome.

And finally, if you own any assets in Italy such as a property in Italy you need to understand that when you die these assets will not necessarily pass to the person you assume is your next of kin!  This is because they have different laws and rules of succession in Italy.  So, go to a lawyer who can understand your situation – i.e., that you also have assets and a will in the UK – and who can draft your will according to your wishes and so that it supports any UK will you also have.  It is really important to do this as soon as you acquire any assets in Italy – don’t leave it to chance because if you die intestate your estate could be distributed completely contrary your intentions.