When we were going through customs in London this week we discovered that life had just thrown us a curve ball. A customs inspector was very emphatic about our situation. She convinced me to listen without a problem. I wonder if they teach that voice and facial expression?
It USED to be that you could visit the UK for up to 6 months at a time before having to leave the country and then re-enter (after a very short period if you wanted to do so) to stay for another 6 months. You could continue doing so over and over if that is what you wanted to do.
However, Britain is now concerned about its rapidly expanding immigrant population. Therefore, they are trying to make their borders less porous. Translation: you cannot keep entering as a visitor as a way of allowing yourself to reside in the UK without official permission to do so.
NOW, you can only visit the UK for a maximum of 6 months in a 12 month period. To stay longer, you need a visa.
OK, so we'll get a visa.
BUT, the category of visa we would be eligible for "Retired Individual of Independent Means" (meaning you can show proof of the monetary means to pay your bills and support yourself without working) is no longer being issued. Too many people have retired to the UK and then proceeded to make use of the subsidized medical system that they have never paid into. Now, nobody can do that because they won't let you in.
So, it appears we will have to develop a Plan B for our British adventure. Dag nag it! We'll let you know the plan once we have figured it out and stopped saying bad words. :)