Retired immigrants and imported pensions

I recently read a letter in a British newspaper that we can get out here, complaining about how we and other EEC citizens are able to move to the floating kingdom and get our full UK or other pensions, and what is more we are paying no tax. I really thought the facts should be put right and that was the motivation for this open letter.

Firstly I should point out that my pension is not a charity payment by you, but something that I paid into for the whole of my working life. Through my working life the agreement was that I paid into a national insurance scheme that would support me in my older years. I understand the problems of the system in that it was run by using cash coming in to support the pensioners at the time, and now where there are larger numbers of older people compared with younger ones the costs have escalated, however for years this was known to be going to happen and they still went on taking my money, so it is only fair that the contract is honored.

Yes in the UK you get the same pensions as we do and pay tax on them, yes you also pay a wide range of other taxes that we do not and yes in many ways the cost of living is lower here, and the weather much nicer. What you perhaps do not realize is that there are savings to your countries by us moving out here, we are not a drain on the NHS, will not need to be supported by social services or have part of all of the home fees paid if we need to go into sheltered accommodation, do not get winter fuel and similar bonuses, and a range of other benefits from special discounted bus passes to subsidized medication and housing. You also have a problem with too large of the population now being retired and perhaps if more old ones like us moved out you would even up the balance and free up more homes in overcrowded areas.

What perhaps you do not realize is that we pay an insurance premium here to cover our heath care, and we in addition chose when we arrived to invest some of our surplus cash from selling our home in the UK into the health trust, which both reduces our health insurance and  allowed us to become a part of the health trust. We are better off, about 50% more disposable income than if we were in the UK, and also have a role we have enjoyed fitting in to here.

I would like to explain a little of our home, community and what we do with our time. We chose as I said before to invest into a health trust, and have got really involved in this. The island on which we live is next to an island containing a major hospital and linked by a bridge. the house I have has 2 bedrooms, both ensuite, lounge, dining room, library/study/internet room, kitchen, and conservatory. We are on top of the island so it looks like a bungalow with a conservatory on the back. The homes are arranged around the island each with a small garden, and in the center is a communal area, including a social area partly lawn and partly paved, a pool, and club house. Below us, we have a store room on the next level down and access down to a shared boat dock with 3 other homes at water level. On the next level under the club house there are a few more rooms, and a keep fit area. The rest of the first level and all of the two levels under it are guest units, that look like motel rooms. These are split into two uses, but the exact division can be changed one area is for recovery by people leaving hospital prior to going home, and the other area is for guests of patients within the hospital. We can also book these units for friends and relatives who are visiting us so that is why we have been able to downsize to a smaller home.

The home we have is owned by the trust, but we do not have to pay any rent, as our investments in the trust when we arrived covered this for our life time and also sheltered accommodation and nursing care if we need it when we are older.

We spend quite a bit of our time talking to visitors of patients, comforting them and arranging supplies etc for them, which we can do over our internet connection and it all arrives then. We also help look after some of the people recovering, mainly checking they are managing medication and acting as a communicator to make sure that they get any help that they need. Most of us on this estate do this, but we don't have to. While we do, the health trust pays all our service charges water, telephones, internet, TV, electricity social club  and the like, and we also get the use of a water taxi provided by the trust. We don't have our own boat but some do, however with regular water busses and the taxi when I want it, I don't need one. I only use the water taxi usually for trips to the shopping malls or into the resort area, as its nice to know your own driver who will be picking you up again isn't it.

The social life is good, we get on really well with others on the estate, most have similar interests and we  share an interest in the health trust. At night the gates to the bridge over to the hospital are shut, although visitors can still come across the bridge and go down to lower levels, and if we want to get in or out we have to do it by going down to the next floor. Family and friends who come out to visit us, are amazed at how quiet it is, that we have no cars on our island, and that the air is so clear. 

I wear what some of my friends call a burglars bracelet, its a combined watch and pager. Once every few days it vibrates for a bit and I need to go and stand for a couple of minutes next to a charger, but I don't need to plug it in. In practice the charger is by my favorite chair in the conservatory, so my pager rarely tells me it needs a charge as it happens often enough. The health trust can tell exactly where I am at any time by taping in my contact code and can also send me short messages. If I need assistance I can press a button, one is a major emergency, twice a patient needing assistance and three, I just want someone to visit me soon. If I fell in the water, say off an island or a boat, it would also go off on its own, leading help to me. When I first moved out here that was my reason to get it, but I have never known anyone to fall in without intending to. The other thing the pager does is measure my heart rate and skin  so if I was unwell it would send help to me. Most of us have one, but while most of my friends have watch style ones that can be taken off, I chose to have a permanent one that I have to go and get changed when necessary. 

Some guests to the kingdom, who have, shall we say a bad reputation, or have misbehaved before as well as a small number of residents who have been in trouble, have to wear a similar device, however its the security services computers that monitors their position and can identify exactly where they have been at every point in time, and find them if they need to. Some younger guests and people who are a bit nervous also have one fitted when they arrive as a safety measure. Over the last year more and more of the residents have been getting them as they can see the advantages. Because of this there is no crime here, and any problem people who will not behave tend to get a one way ticket back to where they came from quite quickly.

I enjoy my association with the health trust, we have leading facilities and people come from all over the world for treatments here. I go to some lectures put on for us by consultants, surgeons and other medical staff so get to find out all about the latest miracles happening. This is not only interesting of course but helps us to communicate with worried guests of patients. Some of my friends do the bereavement counseling bit in the few cases where people don't survive, but I am not happy with that, but better at getting people to remember to take their pills.

 We have a lot of fun, have visits by stars and leading people to the hospital and I have met far too many people personally to list here. Once a month we go to a comedy show in the consultants social club within the hospital and get invited to both a nice Christmas dinner and summer barbeque. People who we have helped throughout the year can make a donation when they leave to a fund that we share out in October, the idea being to use it to fund Christmas, and last year my share was enough to cover the cost of three families of my relations coming out here for a week covering both their air fare and accommodation, so they had a nice present from us, didn't they.

I have wandered of the topic a bit, I wanted to show how people like me moving to the floating kingdom was a two way thing, yes we still get the pensions we paid into while working in Britain, but we also both save you a fortune in looking after us while we get older and have a more useful and fulfilling life than we would back with you.


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Last updated: October 09, 2002.