The results are in – the British public has voted to leave the European Union.
So what does a Brexit look like for you? It depends who you are.
The consensus among British property analysts appears to be that a Brexit will lead to either a slowdown in property price growth, or an outright fall in prices.
British real estate agency Winkworth said any fall in immigration numbers if the UK leaves the EU would put downward pressure on house prices.
For investors, this is bad news. But a Brexit may be music to the aspiring buyer’s ears – affordability of housing is a major concern across the UK, particularly in London which has one of the world’s highest property prices, according to real estate agency Knight Frank.
One alternative possibility, however, is that mortgage payments could come down. If a Brexit does rock the UK economy as widely predicted, the central bank may be forced to cut interest rates further.
This could ease payments for those on some types of mortgages, and for new home buyers. But with historically low interest rates already, the bank has little room to make significant cuts so its impact may be limited.
Winkworth CEO Dominic Agace does not think a Brexit would necessarily be catastrophic for the real estate market. Britain and London in particular “always had a draw for foreign investment, not only from Europe but much further afield,” he said befdore the referendum.
“And I would expect this to continue whatever the [referendum] outcome, especially as people come for many reasons including schools and the lifestyle.”
The International Globetrotter
For foreign travelers, it is officially now cheaper to visit the UK than it has been in decades.
The British pound took a huge battering on the announcement of the referendum results, dropping to a record low, and while a Brexit sorts itself out in the coming months, the currency is likely to remain weak.
The UK is likely to see far fewer tourists from the EU itself. Last year, EU countries made up seven of the top ten countries sending tourists to the UK.
Americans, who were the second biggest group to visit the UK, are likely to move to the first spot, replacing France.
Immigration lines could eventually become more clogged due to the extra processing for EU citizens who would’ve previously enjoyed visa-free access.
The British Holidaymaker
Britain is not part of Europe’s borderless Schengen zone, so British people are already checked at entrance points in EU-member nations. They must show their passports but do not need them stamped to enter.
Even after Brexit, the EU would unlikely try to restrict British people entering the region for a holiday. The most likely scenario is that British nationals would be treated much the same as those from other countries with close ties, meaning they could enter the Schengen zone but their passports would be stamped and they would join non-EU citizen lines at entry points.
Some supporters of remaining in the European Union say EU regulations keep flight prices low.
Budget carrier easyJet backed the Remain camp, saying that the European Union’s “open skies” policy has helped keep the industry competitive.
“It enabled airlines like easyJet to offer passengers lower fares to more destinations. All airlines were forced to respond to this new competitive environment and all passengers have benefited. People can live, work, study and travel across Europe in a way previous generations could not have imagined,” easyJet CEO Carolyn McCall said in a statement before the referendum.
“The only way to guarantee that this continues is for the UK to remain part of the EU.”
But Richard Whitman, a senior fellow at London think-tank Chatham House, said Britain’s market was significant enough that low-cost carriers would likely keep prices down anyway to stay competitive.
“Low-cost carriers are operating between Europe and the United States at very affordable prices, for example, and they’re not part of the EU’s single market. Air travel is so competitive by nature, airliners will do what they can to keep prices low,” Whitman told CNN.
What will likely become more costly are mobile phone roaming tariffs, according to the travel association ABTA. EU rules has made roaming charges much cheaper over the years and the union plans to scrap roaming charges within the region by June 2017.
As the votes trickled in in favor of a Brexit, the pound dropped sharply – hitting its lowest level since 1985.
If the pound weakens by a large enough amount, the Bank of England, the UK’s central bank could intervene.
Its options are to shore up the currency by buying more pounds with foreign currency or raise interest rates, which will hit Britons with mortgages and other loans.
A result with a narrow margin could also throw markets into chaos.
“If the margin is very narrow, it might not be immediately clear that the country has the mandate to leave or stay. That would open up discussions in parliament, which could be a long process, and that uncertainty would have a negative impact on the markets,” Whitman said.
The longer term impacts on the markets are less clear. The Remain camp warned a Brexit would cause mass job cuts and a drop in foreign investment.
Many of the UK’s top universities have come out in favor of remaining in the European Union. Most say a Brexit would threaten research funding from Europe, make access to European academic staff more difficult and cause a decline in enrollment numbers.
Universities UK reports that there were about 125,000 EU students in Britain’s higher education institutions in 2013-14, representing 5% of total university enrollment in the country and bringing in £3.7 billion ($5.4 billion) a year. They support 34,000 jobs, Universities UK claims.
The EU students are considered domestic students because of the UK’s EU membership. They pay the same fees and have access to the same financial aid.
A Brexit might save the UK government some money because it wouldn’t have to provide assistance to EU students but academics say the losses in research funding would far outweigh that benefit.
ICEF Monitor, which provides market intelligence on international education, said that in the event of a Brexit, UK universities would be entitled to charge EU students differential fees and that support structures would fall away.
In 2013-14, more than 15,000 students from the UK took part in the Erasmus Programme, which has since the 1980s given academic exchange opportunities to students within the European Union.
It is unclear what would happen to this program should the UK leave the union. There are fears that students could be cut off from the Erasmus grant which allows students to travel across the continent.
The Expat in Britain
A Brexit divorce will take at least two years so it is unlikely anything will change soon in terms of free movement of labor which allows EU citizens to enter the UK to find work and vice-versa.
EU citizens living in Britain have expressed concern that they might be evicted if the country votes out.
Again, this depends on what kind of deal the UK strikes with EU member states.
There are three scenarios outlined by the Centre for European Reform. One would allow the UK access to the EU’s single market. But to be granted this access, the UK will almost certainly have to retain free movement of labor. In this situation, it would be business as usual for EU immigrants working in Britain.
If a different type of trade deal is made, EU citizens could be subject to the immigration system non-EU citizens go through.
High-profile figures backing a Brexit have called for an Australian-style, points-based immigration system. The UK would likely identify particular industries that need workers with certain skills and allow those immigrants to take up employment and live in the country.
Brexit leaders have, however, suggested that EU citizens already in Britain would be given permission to stay in the country indefinitely but any other citizens wanting to immigrate would go through the new system.
But what about non-EU citizens?
The government has come under pressure to reduce immigration, which hit a near record high of 330,000, in net figures, in 2015. And with free movement of labor from the EU, the government has had to focus on non-EU citizens to reduce immigration numbers, tightening restrictions on who can enter the country.
Some citizens from outside the EU, particularly from Commonwealth countries like Australia and Canada, have complained that this is discriminatory. A group of Bangladeshi curry house owners, for example, say they can’t get enough chefs from Asia because of tighter immigration rules on non-EU citizens.
Jobs are often advertised only for people who already have the right to work in the UK, which usually means British and other EU citizens, or those with family ties to the country. This has become common practice since 2004 when free movement of labor was introduced.
At the moment, the balance of EU and non-EU immigrants in the country is near 50-50, even though it is more difficult for non-EU citizens to immigrate to Europe. This is a sign that interest in immigration from outside the EU is significant, so if the incentive to hire EU citizens is taken away from employers, Britons may start to see more Aussies, Americans and Asians filling vacant jobs.
The British Expat
There are about 4.5 million British people living abroad, 1.5 million of them in EU countries, UN data shows.
There are concerns that a Brexit would make these British nationals illegal immigrants overnight – or at least when the EU and UK settle their divorce.
Some lawyers, however, argue that international law protects people in this situation. The Vienna Convention of 1969 says that the people’s rights, obligations and legal situations are protected when a treaty ceases, as long as those rights were acquired while a treaty was valid.
“It is unlikely that governments will go to the dramatic measure of kicking out resident British nationals from their countries, unless of course, Britain kicks out EU nationals from its country first,” said Whitman, from Chatham House.
So it appears that expats already abroad will have a legal argument to stay. But those wishing to move abroad may face greater restrictions. To find a job they may need to go through a visa application.
New conditions may be imposed for UK citizens wanting to settle in the EU for retirement, particularly if they are no longer entitled to all public services such as healthcare. They may need to prove a greater level of financial independence.
The European Health Insurance Card gives British people free or lower-cost healthcare in the European Union. The future of reciprocal healthcare would need to be renegotiated in a Brexit divorce.
It could be a messy area, as a key complaint among Brexiteers has been that uncontrolled immigration is stretching the country’s health services. And if Britain does not want to offer Europeans free healthcare, it is unlikely to get free care for its own citizens in Europe.
There has been much chatter about another Scottish independence referendum should the UK vote to leave the European Union. Polls suggest that Scottish people support remaining in the EU, and MPs there have even suggested switching to the euro if the pound loses significant value.
In 2014 the Scottish voted to remain part of the UK but the referendum brought so much momentum to Scottish nationalism that another vote on the issue is possible.
Whitman from Chatham House said that while a Brexit would give steam to the Scottish independence movement, a referendum would unlikely be around the corner.
“The timescale is important – the Scottish National Party (SNP) – can afford to bide their time. In a Brexit, they would hold all the cards, they will have the political power. But they’ll want to see what kind of deal Britain can strike first and if they do want another referendum, they’ll wait for the most opportune moment,” he said.
Scotland could instead use the scenario to negotiate even more regional power, Whitman suggested.
On its website, the SNP backs remaining in the EU, reminding constituents that the EU “safeguards your right to a paid holiday,” and the right not to work more than 48 hours a week. It explains that EU laws protect women’s rights during pregnancy, including statutory paid maternity leave, and ensures the right to equal pay and protections against discrimination.
The Northern Irish
It’s not just the Scottish that are upset about the decision to leave. In Northern Ireland, 56% of people voted to remain in the EU and the “Leave” result has prompted their leaders to call for an independence referendum of their own.
“This British government has forfeited any mandate to represent the economic or political interests of people in Northern Ireland,” Declan Kearney, Sinn Fein National Chairperson said after the vote.
“There is clearly a democratic imperative for a border poll in the North,” he said.
Friday’s outcome has reignited the idea of uniting with the Republic of Ireland, which it shares a land border with, and is still part of the EU.
A referendum for a united Ireland would first require permission to be granted from Northern Ireland’s Secretary of State Theresa Villiers and voting would only be available to the people of Northern Ireland.
But if it were were to remain part of the UK, the other Ireland’s Taoiseach (prime minister) has said it would need to implement land border controls between the two Irelands.
None of the Above?
Let’s say you don’t have any connection to Britain at all. If you’re watching the drama unfold from your couch in New York, New Delhi or Abu Dhabi, will a Brexit still affect you?
A drop in UK property prices would be handy if you’re looking to invest in London’s real estate market from afar. If the value of the pound drops, it might make the cost of a vacation to Edinburgh lightly less eye-watering. But although a Brexit would primarily hurt the UK economy, it could also have consequences for global financial markets – meaning your stocks might take a hit.
In other words: we simply don’t know what the divorce would look like.
Tiffany Ap and Sebastian Shukla contributed to this report.