Offshore Banking, Savings and Investment News
News and information for expatriate and international investors and savers.
Are you an expat? Do you need a mortgage? Shelter Offshore may be able to help.
Don’t believe anything you read (except this article of course!) about expat mortgages! They are almost impossible to find. How do we know this? From bitter first-hand experience, and the tales of our readers. However, after almost a year of searching high and low for a solution – we think we’ve found one and now we want Shelter Offshore readers to help us test out a new expat mortgage resource please!
The Background: about a year ago we began receiving a slow but steady stream of enquiries from expats seeking mortgages. At the same time we were well aware that the media had begun reporting tentative green shoots emerging from banks and building societies’ expat mortgage pots.
It seemed from enquiries received that the reality of approaching any of these lenders was not what journalists were reporting – and that it was still impossible for expats to get any form of finance to buy a home in the UK - or even abroad. Whether the expat in question wanted a mortgage for a home, a buy to let or to self-build, or finance was required from equity release or a restructuring of property assets, banks were universally closed to any expat enquiries. So, we set about finding a solution…
If affordable access to healthcare is important for you, know before you go what to expect in your new nation!
Living in a country with a health system funded by taxes and taken for granted by many as a free resource, we Britons often have a steep learning curve when we move abroad. We may have to buy health insurance, and even get to grips with how a private healthcare system works.
If you’re thinking of relocating overseas, then researching the healthcare system and how it’s funded in your new nation will be a key point to cover in your pre-move research. HSBC has just produced a good resource for would-be expats to refer to; it covers affordability and standards of healthcare in many favourite expat hotspots worldwide.
Interestingly Britain is almost slap bang in the middle of the chart in terms of affordability and standards, and there are plenty of countries in the world where standards are far higher and where care is far cheaper. If you want to know more about your chosen nation’s health system, HSBC’s infographic will be a good place to start.
How to choose the best place to retire with checklists and advice
I love it when mainstream media gets in on the debate about where to retire abroad. All they ever do is focus on the hours of sunshine and the property prices! Such was seemingly the sum total of Max Davidson’s article in last weekend’s Telegraph. The newspaper’s Property section decided to give itself over to focussing on retirement – as if finding a cheap property is the be all and end all of finding the best place to live when you finally reach retirement!
So anyway, Max Davidson’s piece was acutely focussed on where to live in a cheap house and perpetual sunshine (not quite sure how Blaenau in Gwent made it into his top 20 mind you!) But whilst I appreciate that such articles are only written for entertainment and advertisement, (as opposed to edification and information), my article will show why you really have to focus on far more than the price of property when looking for the best place to retire: whether at home or abroad.
Ultimately, the price of property should be close to the bottom of your list of concerns, because you should be renting not buying anyway (see below for my reasoning) – but as you will likely have a fixed income in retirement, where you choose to live has to tick every single conceivable fiscal box if you’re to enjoy a stress free retirement.
All expats have financial concerns it seems: the solution is to be as informed about your options as possible
The Bank of Montreal’s Wealth Institute has conducted a survey of newly arrived expatriates in Canada to determine what their main challenges are when attempting integration in their newly adopted nation. And the findings universally and unequivocally underpin Shelter Offshore’s overriding objectives when writing for our readership: i.e., expats must get money matters straight when moving abroad.
The survey has highlighted that a range of financial challenges face expats when they relocate to Canada, and that overcoming these will make a real difference when it comes to successful integration and ongoing happiness within a new nation.
Many who plan a relocation overseas fail to closely estimate how much such a move will cost, neither do they factor in the changes to their financial position such as tax status and how that can impact on disposable income for example. If you’re planning a move abroad you need to do so from as strong a financial position as possible, and if you’re living abroad you need to be informed about the range of possibilities open to you for the best management of your wealth.
How taking a sceptical approach to any pension or QROPS advice is critical in order to avoid tax traps and bad advice
The money headlines in the mainstream British press today are focusing on the new pension freedoms that will come into effect in April 2015. You’ve probably all heard about the fact British retirees will no longer have to buy an annuity – bringing British pensions in line with QROPS to a certain extent. But from April 2015 those over 55 will be able to dip in and out of their pension pot whenever they so choose. And the big bonus that’s being promoted is that every sum withdrawn will be 25% tax-free.
Wow! So 75% of what a British retiree takes will be taxable then? If you read the neatly spun descriptions of what the new rules will mean, you’ll learn that Chancellor George Osborne is all about putting pension power back in the hands of the pension pot owner. And if you read all the positive headlines about QROPS for expats you’ll discover the same sort of rhetoric. No longer forced to buy an annuity, 25% tax-free lump sum(s), no 55% tax charge upon death…
But the real truth is this: everyone is gambling with your pension. The Chancellor, the financial adviser, the pension company, the investment specialists…they all have a genuine (financial) vested interest in your pension. And if you’re not careful you could be walking into the biggest tax trap of your life when you retire. So, here are 3 ways you can protect yourself:
Why expats need to think at least twice before buying a property abroad
There are probably plenty of countries where you’d really think twice before committing to a property purchase. Countries where it’s widely accepted that legal practices are non-supportive of foreign buyers for example, places where political or economic instability undermine the real estate market perhaps, or locations where there is simply very little desire to live!
However, these aren’t the countries that can teach us the biggest lessons about why expats really should avoid buying property abroad! In fact, you need look no further than Italy if you want to truly understand why we at Shelter Offshore, (and many others), strongly believe all expats should rent a property abroad, at least until they know their chosen nation’s laws inside out!
In an incredibly thought-provoking article in the Telegraph’s Expat Life section, British expatriate writer Nicholas Farrell lays bare his family’s almost unbelievable struggle to buy and sell property in Italy. The well-written article should serve as a warning to any expat thinking of buying property anywhere in the world!
A new TV series is looking for expats who’ve escaped abroad to live an extreme existence in a remote location
Whilst many of us dream of starting a brand new life abroad, only a very small handful of people dream of escaping abroad and starting a brand new life a million miles from the beaten track. But does this sound like you? Have you escaped abroad for a new life far from your old routine? Are you living in a remote part of the world, on an island, in a forest, up a mountain?
If you have, would you like to share your experience with the wider world? A British television production company is planning a series of programmes focusing on expatriates who’ve made a brave and bold escape to a hidden corner of the world.
The show, Escape to the Wild, will be presented by Kevin McCloud, and he will spend a period of time living with the featured expats, getting to understand why they’ve chosen an extreme escape, and trying to discover whether the remote or isolated life they’ve chosen has benefitted them as they most probably planned and hoped when they set out upon their adventure.
How to succeed in applying for an immigration visa to live, work or retire to New Zealand
If you’re considering applying for a visa to live in New Zealand one of the most important pieces of information you can have is why your application might potentially fail. Knowing what you’re up against may enable you to structure your application appropriately to avoid the hurdles! In this article we’re going to discuss the application process, and where it often fails for Britons who want to live in New Zealand.
The good news is that New Zealand is a very welcoming country in terms of its visa policies – at least in theory! By that I mean that the visa programme has been designed to enable the nation to remain as economically strong as it can be – therefore if you possess the skills or indeed the investment capital that the country wants to support its economy, you will be welcomed with open arms!
However, as anyone who has visited the Immigration New Zealand website will already know, there is a heck of a lot of red tape involved in the actual application process. Don’t be put off! If it’s your dream to live, work or retire in New Zealand here’s what you need to know.
FACTA is impacting on American expats’ financial freedom and is perhaps an indicator of things to come for all expats
We receive many requests for information and advice from American expats reading our website. They all want and need assistance with sorting out their increasingly complex financial affairs. I say ‘increasingly complex’ because that is the reality for every single American expat…because of the US’s own extreme crackdown on money laundering and tax evasion that’s seemingly having a far bigger impact on the lives of normal expats than any potential criminal.
And the sad fact is this, if you’re an American living abroad or you’re an expat living in America we can’t help you. And neither will any financially related organisation in Europe it seems. None of the companies that we have professional connections with that offer British, European or even Australian or New Zealand expats regulated financial advice and solutions can offer even so much as an opinion about an American’s financial position.
As a direct result of the US’s crackdown on illegal money movements every single American expat has been left out on a financial limb. The workarounds that these expats have to go to in order to get their hands on their own money is extreme. But the worrying thing is that the American model is much admired by many in the UK and Europe. So could these financial shackles be the future for all expats, no matter what their nationality and where in the world they want to live?
If you own an ailing expat hotel business abroad you can get help from the Hotel Inspector Alex Polizzi
Many Britons dream of escape abroad – and one way of making the escape a reality is to take on a new business overseas, and turn your plans for a new life abroad into a practical reality funded by your hard work! For anyone who has already taken the plunge only to discover that perhaps it’s not as easy as it once looked…help is now at hand!
The Hotel Inspector Alex Polizzi is set to return for a brand new series: and the show’s producers are looking for expat owners of struggling hotel, gite or B&B businesses overseas. Chosen applicants will get the help of this exceptionally successful hotelier and hopefully be able to turn their ailing business around.
Fans of the show will be aware that this isn’t the first time Alex Polizzi has ventured abroad to help those in need of her no-nonsense style of approach to the hospitality business. Previously Alex went to Switzerland. Now the show’s producers are looking at the likes of Spain and Portugal’s Algarve region for struggling expat hotel owners who want Alex’s help.