A British couple’s retirement plans have fallen apart leaving them without a home of their own to live in thanks to post-Brexit visa rules.
Remain voting Karen and Colin Barker face having to leave the country they’ve called home for a large chunk of their lives thanks to their residency status.
After 35 years of visits to Crete, six years renting on the island and half a decade building their dream retirement home, the couple were ready to become full-time residents.
However, because they have not spent more than six months out of each 12 in the country over the past few years, they’re unable to apply for permanent residency in the country.
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As a result they’re able to spend a maximum of 90 days in Greece each year before they’re required to come back to the UK.
Having ploughed all their money and time into the Cretan property, they’ve no where to live back in their home country.
“We didn’t know it was going to happen,” Karen told The Mirror of visa rules which have seen Brits head back to the UK in their droves.
“Nobody really understood what would happen (at the time of the Referendum). It wasn’t set out in black and white.
“It is a nightmare.”
For much of the past three and a half decades Karen and Colin have been enjoying the benefits of freedom of movement, which allow residents of EU member states to travel without friction across the bloc.
Having fallen in love with Crete, they bought a derelict property together for £23,000 in the town of Limnes.
They then ploughed £30,000 into turning it into their dream home.
Rather than living out their golden years on the beautiful Mediterranean island, they’re now being forced to come back to the UK where no property awaits them.
Karen and Colin don’t know how they’ll bankroll a place to live in Britain as the Greek holiday home market is struggling significantly, meaning selling up in Crete may prove impossible.
“Crete is like home for us,” Karen, a former maternity ward nurse, continued.
“We wouldn’t be able to afford buying a place in the UK. This is my home.”
Asked what she would do when she’s required to leave, Karen said she’d refuse to get out of the country.
She said: “I am staying here. We will fight it.”
On Sunday The Mirror reported that British expats are leaving Spain in numbers, with numerous retirees abandoning the popular area of Costa del Sol as a result of Brexit.
Travel experts have noticed a decrease in the number of Brits in the country due to more stringent immigration rules brought in after the UK left the European Union.
Robert Barnhardt, a property expert who runs an estate agency in the seaside town of Fuengirola, said many retired people are now starting to sell their properties.
Due to Brexit, UK citizens can only visit Spain without a visa for up to three months for tourism and businesses purposes.
However, from 2022 British nationals will need a visa waiver to enter Spain, according to rules outlined on the Spanish government website.
The new rules will mean that Brits can still visit the country without a visa but will need to hold a valid ETIAS visa waiver before arriving.