Escape to the sun: Belgian pensioners look south in retirement

Escape to the sun: Belgian pensioners look south in retirement
Credit: Tony Cuadrado/Belga.

While France remains the number one destination for Belgian pensioners, other southern states are gaining popularity among retirees, Sudinfo reports. Take Portugal, which since 2012 has seen a 400% rise in Belgian retirees settling in its warmer climes.

In an article published on Wednesday, the French-speaking newspaper cited figures from Belgium's Federal Pensions Service, which currently pays a pension to 2,278,063 Belgian retirees. Their data revealed that 61,556 Belgian pensioners were living abroad in 2022.

A deeper look into the figures shows that retirees often choose Belgiu'ms neighbouring countries as well as heading for Europe's sunnier shores.

France is now home to 24, 705 Belgian pensioners – a 66.6% increase in the last ten years. It was followed behind by Spain, which has welcomed 9,109 retirees. Also popular are the Netherlands (with 4,463), Germany (3,398) and Luxembourg (2,568).

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However, the largest increase came in Portugal where 1,464 Belgian retirees currently live, compared to a mere 325 in 2012. Sudinfo consulted tax lawyer Typhanie Afschrift to better understand Portugal's rise in popularity among Belgian pensioners. She attributed this to the Iberian country's "interesting" tax advantage for Belgian newcomers.

"New residents in Portugal were exempt from tax for their first ten years in the country," Afschrift explained, "while the tax rate has since risen to 10%, it is worth it to many Belgians as they will end up paying much less tax there."

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