Understanding expat finances rather than leaving them to chance can make a big difference in retirement. With the excitement of starting a new life in an exotic country, the temptation is to act like a tourist for the first few months abroad – and to spend like one as well.
After the honeymoon, when the credit card and bank statements start catching up with the expat lifestyle, it’s time to get to grips with your money. In most cases, taking some simple steps before you leave Britain can ease your finances wherever you move to.
Here are five of the biggest expat financial mistakes to avoid:
Not saving for retirement
No matter what the temptation, that bigger pay packet and probably lower tax, not only funds your lifestyle but your retirement as well. A pension is simply deferred salary that expats put aside instead of spending, so make sure you do just that.
Take tax advice
Tax laws vary between countries and expats need to ensure their file with HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) is closed when they leave the UK and that they are properly registered with the tax authority in their new home.
Governments started swapping information about accounts and investments held by foreigners in October 2016, so you must declare any income or interest earned.
Ignoring inheritance laws
Expats should find out about the inheritance rules in every country where they have property, cash or other assets to make sure that their estate is divided among the right people when they die. Laws are different for each country, so making a will in each is vital.
Watch out for scammers
Expats are plagued by scammers looking to get their hands on their hard-earned savings. Only discuss your finances with an adviser who is licensed and regulated in the place where your money is. Don’t take what they say at face value – check out their registration with the local regulator and ask an independent professional such as a lawyer or solicitor to run over the figures and investment details before parting with any money.
Keeping a bolt hole at home
Owning property that is not rented out long term, keeping a UK bank account and retaining a UK driving licence can all be signs that you are not an expat but still have financial and social ties with Britain – and that means you are tax resident here as well. Make sure you understand residence rules in the UK and your new home or you could get a nasty tax shock in the future.