If you cherish dreams of buying property in France, Brexit should not be a factor in delaying or preventing you from taking the plunge
BREXIT: Vrai ou Faux?
We debunk some more of the myths swaying buyers’ judgement in a post-Brexit world…
MYTH: “I may lose my pension if I move to France”
FACT: The Government has indicated that it intends to continue increasing state pensions to expats in the EU after the UK leaves in 2019. So don’t delay your move to France. In addition, National Insurance (NI) contributions made while abroad will also continue to count towards the state pension. You will receive the full pension, worth £159.55 a week, if you have 35 or more “qualifying” NI years.
MYTH: “British buyers should put off their move until a deal has been agreed with the European Union”
FACT: Despite the doom and gloom predicted, it seems Britons have taken the apocalyptic headlines with a pinch of salt. In fact, according to BNP Paribas International, not only are two thirds of UK buyers (65 per cent) still pressing ahead with their property search in the Eurozone, but 30 per cent have sped up plans to move to France to beat Brexit. The Investing & Living Abroad survey also revealed that Britons are still the top foreign investors in France, making up 32 per cent of non-resident transactions last year – twice as much as Belgians, for instance. We are seeing a slight shift in the type of properties buyers are looking for post-Brexit. There’s a new focus on homes with outbuildings and, as such, income potential to hedge against currency fluctuations and economic uncertainty.
MYTH: “My French tax liabilities will increase”
FACT: If you live in France, the same tax rates apply to all residents, regardless of nationality. If you receive income from the UK, tax treatment is determined by the UK/France double taxation treaty. The same applies if you are a UK resident and receive income from France. Such treaties are agreements reached between two countries, independently of the EU. Therefore, the UK’s exit from the EU should have no bearing on your future tax treatment. If you are moving to France in order to work, you may be able to take advantage of Article 155B of the French tax code, which provides special tax incentives for individuals coming from overseas to work.
MYTH: “Buying in France is not the safe investment it once was”
FACT: Brexit or not, France will always be a good place to invest. At this juncture, buying property outside the UK is a smart choice. It allows you to spread your investment load in another currency, as well as keep capital in a country that is still part of the EU. And if the UK economy struggles in the wake of Brexit, you will have spread your risk and returns. There is, however, no doubt that Brexit is going to create more paperwork for British buyers in France. They might also find it harder to get a property loan in France or, at least, it may mean paying higher mortgage rates than EU members.
MYTH: “British expats will no longer have easy access to healthcare in France post-Brexit”
FACT: It’s fair to say that access to healthcare has been one of the key issues of the Brexit negotiations so far. While nothing has been formally green-lighted, negotiators have agreed on principle that British pensioners who have retired to EU countries will continue to see their healthcare paid for by the National Health Service post-Brexit. The agreement will also allow British pensioners who have retired in any EU country to travel to other EU nations and use their European Health Insurance Card, should they require medical attention.
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Originally published in issue 123 of FrenchEntrée Magazine.
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