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Expat Focus Financial Update February 2023

Australian expats could benefit from new wealth management programme

Atlas Wealth Management, a Gold Coast-based firm, has now set up Atlas Tax, aimed at providing tax compliance advice as well as investment counselling to Australian expats. The new section is designed to assist with:

• Australian tax return preparation and lodgement
• Australian tax advice
• Private Binding Ruling applications
• Liaison with the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) regarding clients’ tax affairs

They can also assist with pre-departure tax advice and issues such as double taxation.

British buy-to-let market improves

The Mortgage Finance Gazette reported in January that mortgage lenders are now offering products at 1% over the Bank of England base rate. The buy-to-let market “may have turned an important corner,” they add. Other experts also believe that house prices are returning to a new normal. Since supply of property currently exceeds demand, house prices have experienced a dip but remain strong across the country.

Smaller lenders who opted out of the highly unstable situation caused by the autumn budget have now recovered their confidence and come back into the market, with a number of competitively priced by-to-let options for expat investors. 2023 is expected to be a year in which expats reconsider the UK property market as a potential investment opportunity.

Survey rates Italy as top country for cost of living

The website Your Overseas Home has published its 2023 survey, with some interesting findings. Overall, from most to least expensive countries, the UK comes first, followed by Germany, then Spain, France, Portugal, Greece and Italy. The last country, Italy, is cheapest when it comes to groceries, whereas the UK is almost 40% more expensive. The UK is also the most expensive when it comes to travel, but Greece is costlier in regard to petrol prices. Dental care is most expensive in Germany and least expensive in Spain.

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Four in ten respondents named Spain as their most popular choice, followed by Italy. Senior editor Christopher Nye says:

“…we decided to see where exactly people were dreaming – or even planning – to move to in their retirement. Spain came out on top as the number one choice for 41 percent of respondents. It shows that exotic isn’t the biggest selling point. Spain has all the advantages of warmth, sunshine and lower cost of living, but it’s easy to reach all year and has an amazing social life waiting for you too, in its friendly expat communities.”

The survey reveals that the top most popular locations are as follows:

• Spain (including Balearic and Canary Islands) – 41%
• Italy – 16%
• France – 13%
• Cyprus – 11%
• Portugal – 3%

The website livingcost.org reports that the average cost of living is 37% less in Spain than in the UK. Rent, utility bills and the cost of childcare are all significantly lower than in Britain.

UK retirees abroad to receive energy payments

If you are a British pensioner living in one of 25 EEA countries, you may be eligible for a Winter Fuel Payment from the UK government. This does not include France, Spain, Gibraltar, Cyprus, Greece, Malta or Portugal, as these nations are deemed to be too warm (relatively!) in the winter. You can claim if:

  • You moved to an ‘eligible country’ before 1st January 2021
  • You were born before 26 September 1956
  • You have a genuine and sufficient link to the UK – this can include having lived or worked in the UK, and having family in the UK

Check on the government website to find out if you are in an eligible country and if you can claim.

You will only need to claim if you have not received a Winter Fuel payment in the past. If you have been in receipt of one previously, you will already be on the system. However, if you need permission to enter the UK with granted leave stating that you cannot claim public funds, you will not be eligible.

New resource for US expats on the Riviera

American expats on the Riviera might benefit from a new financial advisory service, provided by fellow expat Robert Levitt of Levitt Capital Management, who has recently re-located from Florida. He told Investment News that he had to undergo the French regulatory process for a year:

“From a niche perspective, I have chosen a relatively large and unserved market that has become too complex for those who want to do it themselves, that has seen in the recent past new legislation which has made navigating the system more and more complex to the point that previous competitors, financial advisors in the United States, have voluntarily left the market, and new regulation in Europe has made the choice of investment products more and more difficult to find. And I came to that market with years of experience as an investment advisor, mastery of the French language and the ability to create something which previously did not exist.”

Layoffs in the tech industry

The Washington Post has reported that 30%-40% of the 200,000 workers laid off by the tech giants are Indian IT personnel. If you are on a particular type of visa, such as an H1B non-immigrant work visa, you have 60 days to find a new job in the US – after that, you will have to leave the country. Obviously, this is extremely disruptive in regard to issues such as property and schooling. Employment experts suggest that relocating to the UAE or Japan might be a viable option, but regional governments in India itself, such as Kerala, have been taking steps recently to assist expats in these highly skilled industries who are returning home.

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