Ageing and Society

The well-being of British expatriate retirees in southern Europe

a1 University of Sheffield, UK
a2 University of Sussex, UK
a3 University of Exeter, UK


This article examines the personal outcomes of overseas residence in later life, by analysing some findings from the first large-scale, comparative study of the retirement of British citizens to southern Europe. Four study areas are compared: Tuscany in Italy, Malta, the Costa del Sol of Spain, and the Algarve region of Portugal. The analysis focuses on the expressed reasons for moving to and residing in the areas, the reported advantages and disadvantages, and the respondents' predictions of whether they would stay or leave in response to adverse and beneficial events. Overall the subjects give very positive reports, but there are considerable differences among the four areas. The associations of individual variation in well-being with both a person's ‘temporal commitment’ to the area and to facets of their social integration are analysed. The onset of severe incapacity, sufficient to prevent the continued running of a home, is the event most likely to cause people to leave their adopted areas of residence.

(Accepted January 7 1999)

Key Words: international migration; retirement; health; housing; life-style; well-being.

c1 Address for correspondence: Professor A. M. Warnes, Sheffield Institute for Studies on Ageing, University of Sheffield, Community Sciences Centre, Northern General Hospital, Herries Road, Sheffield S5 7AU, UK.