Home » Expat Focus Financial Update August 2023

Expat Focus Financial Update August 2023

“One-Third” of Expats in the UAE Want to Retire There

A recent survey conducted by National Bonds in the UAE reveals that one-third of expats currently living in the country are planning to retire locally, with only 8% intending to return home. Another 8% plan to move to a different final location, and the remainder were undecided. The reason for this statistic could be partly due to recent legislation such as the Golden Visa, which has created better opportunities for expats in the UAE. National Bonds told the press that over 60% of expats are establishing saving funds, choosing to save or invest 20% of their income rather than spending it. National Bonds’ CEO, Mohammed Qasim Al Ali, says that people have learned a lesson from the pandemic when the lack of savings had a significant impact on those who lost their jobs due to Covid-19.

Expat Salary Rankings: Saudi Arabia Leads the Way

The latest edition of the MyExpatriate Market Pay Survey, conducted by consulting firm ECA International, has revealed Saudi Arabia as this year’s top contender for expat salaries. Despite a recent dip in wage figures, the average middle management salary remains substantial, at around £83,763. Oliver Browne, Remuneration and Policy Surveys Manager at ECA, highlights in the survey’s press release that:

“While they may not top the overall rankings, expatriate salaries in the Middle East tend to be incredibly generous as a way of encouraging people to relocate there, with the highest salaries being in Saudi Arabia. However, the cost of benefits ranks lower and combined with the lack of personal tax, overall package costs are more affordable.”

Switzerland is second in the European listings; although Swiss salaries are substantial, the high cost of living offsets the gain. The USA makes its way into the top ten rankings, largely driven by the prevailing strength of the USD.

The survey identifies the UK as the most expensive destination for relocating employees. ECA’s data indicates that the average annual cost of sending an expat to the UK now stands at £351,992, marking an 11% rise from the previous year. In contrast, UK salaries rose by a mere 5%, accounting for only 18% of the comprehensive expatriate package. This outcome echoes the findings of the previous year, where the UK also secured the first-place ranking for the most expensive place to relocate to. 

The survey bases its findings on data derived from countries featuring cities within the top 40 of The Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI), a report generated by the commercial think-tank, the Z/Yen Group. 

AmEx Cuts Card Services in Czechia

American Express has announced the discontinuation of its corporate credit cards in Czechia. You will still be able to use your AmEx card in Czechia if it was issued in a different nation, but the credit card company says that it will no longer be issuing corporate credit cards in the country. In recent years it has focused on large companies and their employees. Now, locally issued cards will no longer function from December 15th, 2023 – check with your bank as to whether your card was issued by AmEx itself or whether it was a ‘partner card.’ Travel accounts will be ending at the same time. 

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Progeny Plans Expansion and Sets its Sights on Expats 

The multi-disciplinary firm Progeny, know for its expertise in asset management, financial planning, HR, tax, and legal services, has announced a strategic expansion. This expansion involves bolstering its workforce in Leeds, UK, following its acquisition of the international wealth management company, The Fry Group. This acquisition includes The Fry Group’s offices in key global locations, including Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Belgium.

Spain Bans Cash Transactions for Renters

The Ley de Vivienda, passed in May of this year, has had a number of significant effects, including banning cash payments, “en metálico,” for rents over €1000. Now, you can only pay via digital means or bank transfer. The reasoning behind this is to stamp out fraud, but critics say that some renters – the elderly or those who are not so digitally literate – run the risk of being left behind. Like many European countries, the number of brick-and-mortar banks in Spain are decreasing, forcing a reliance on digital access. The European Central Bank has also expressed reservations about the move, saying that it might hinder legitimate transactions. 

Qatar’s New Mortgage Regulations

Qatar’s Central Bank has recently amended its mortgage regulations, affecting both citizens and expats, modifying maximum loan-to-value specifications and tenure limits. There are different criteria for residents and non-residents. The new rules are divided into three categories:

  • Residential properties that are ready-to-occupy and under-construction: for non-Qatari residents, the maximum LTV is 75% for properties under QAR 6 million with a 25-year tenure limit.  The maximum LTV for properties over QAR 6 million is 70%, with a 25-year tenure limit. These properties are intended for people who are reliant on a salary for their mortgage, not those who are buying for investment purposes. 
  • Completed properties for both individuals and companies for investment and commercial purposes: for non-Qatari residents, the LTV for properties valued at QAR 10 million is 70%, and 65% for properties above QAR 10 million, with a 25-year tenure limit. These properties are intended for people who will be reliant mainly on property income to repay their loans. 
  • Properties under construction for investment and commercial purposes, with repayment dependent on property revenue: for non-Qataris, these properties have a lower LTV of 50% with a 15-year tenure limit. Again, this real estate is intended for people who will be making repayments from property revenues. 

If you are taking out a mortgage on your salary, your debt burden ratio cannot be above 50% of your wages. If you’re a non-resident expat who then takes up residency in Qatar, you can revise your mortgage to the specifications allowed for reside.