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EU flagThere are a lot of British expats living in France.  Whether to stay on or sell up will be a difficult decision for them if the UK vote to leave the EU.

It is difficult to know how many, UK citizens live in France. Different organisations provide quite varied estimates as you can see from the data below.

A no vote could plunge some British ex pats into poverty.

There are 172,806 Brits living in France according to the United Nations Population Division. (a very precise estimate)

However according to Wikipedia there are approximately 400,000.??? (a more rounded ballpark figure)

Surprisingly our Office for National Statistics (ONS), by its own admission, does not compile statistics for Britons living abroad.

Below are figures supplied by the BBC…….


Total Inc. part-time Pensioners % male % female
200,000 261,000 33,869 n/a n/a
0-14 15-24 25-44 45-64 64+
8.1 10.1 33.8 35.4 12.5

The major regions to which expats have moved  are Aquitaine , Languedoc-Roussillon, Midi-Pyrenees, Brittany, Poitou-Charentes and Corsica.

Stats from the French Statistical Agency state that the demographic is one third aged over 60. They provide the following breakdown for the  British population living in France in 2011. 15% are aged 0 to 17 years of and 52% are between 18 and 59 years of age.  33% are aged 60 years plus and are in their retirement years or rapidly approaching it.

Exit from the EU could have quite serious consequences for these people. Many rely on their British pensions which are paid in pounds sterling and if as is likely the value of the pound goes down, then their purchasing power will decline.

Most have sold up their UK properties and down sized or down valued in their move to France. Selling up and returning to GB would be very difficult as property prices have moved on in Britain but this has not happened in France. In fact property prices have fallen by about 11% over the last 8 years. In the department of Vienne for example the average property value in 2007 was 104,900 euros and by 2014 it had dropped to 89,500 euros. Today it will be even lower. To check on prices in all other departments click Rural Property prices.

If a large number of British do try to sell up and move back this will lower the value of their French homes still further. The problem is exacerbated by the large number of unoccupied properties in France, estimated to be 2.8 million. There is one small plus in that if as is likely the pound goes down against the Euro then when they return their cash will be worth more, but it will be hugely off set by the low sum realised in the  sale of their French homes if, indeed, they are able to find a purchaser at all.

There is also the possibility that taxation on property sales will increase if we leave the EU, so you will end up with even less (more on this in a future blog)

It’s called a rock and a hard place – stay on in reduced circumstances, or sell up, making a big loss, and return to GB with insufficient cash to buy an expensive British property.

From the resident British perspective, large numbers of elderly returnees will put a strain on our NHS, social services and housing . Not a great prospect all round.

Other potentially disadvantageous consequences for British nationals currently living in Europe in the case of exit from the EU  will be covered in future blogs – there is more!!

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