top of page

Importance of planning before moving abroad


Moving abroad is an exciting time, which promises to open up many new friendships and opportunities. However, it’s essential to understand the full financial implications and to review insurance, pension and savings arrangements as early as possible.

The opportunity to work abroad is both exciting and sometimes a little worrying, as you experience a new social and work environment. Often, the decision to move abroad has to be made quickly and there is not enough time to plan everything properly.

For the fortunate, they will arrive into an organisation where they already have a well-grooved program that helps new arrivals settle in quickly. This can include everything from helping to open a bank account in the new country, to providing a ‘buddy’ who can help them settle in and answer any queries. Many of the best organizations, will even go out of their way to provide help with accommodation and understanding the new work environment.

Unfortunately however, some are left to either sink or swim on their own. Often when people move abroad, very little thought is given to what they need to do about their personal financial situation. Many do not realise that any pension will automatically stop when they move abroad and the onus is on the individual to make alternative arrangements. It’s very likely that the new country and organisation will not provide any pension whilst working abroad.

Expats move from their home country for the opportunity to experience different cultures and people and the option to potentially save more. Invariably many do not achieve this, as once in the new role, people are often too busy to review their new financial situation and years can go by without any planning taking place. This can be disastrous, as with most governments looking to cut pension obligations and with no new contributions being made, there can be a large gap in their pension planning.

In the past, where expats have worked abroad in places like the Far East and Middle East, these postings were often only for a few years and were very well paid as they were considered ‘hardship’ postings. Nowadays this is not the case and many head to destinations in Europe and the Far East, possibly remaining there for many years. Some never return and retire away from their home country. Salaries in many locations are also low, so it’s necessary to stay away longer to cover the moving costs and to make the posting financially viable.

Clearly a move abroad needs careful financial, as well as logistical planning. Before moving to the new position you need to establish if your new job provides you with medical cover, life insurance and a pension. You also need to work out how you will be paid and whether you need to open a new bank account in your new country. Once these points have been resolved, careful thought then needs to be given to your long-term financial needs. This can only really be achieved by sitting down with an ‘Internationally Experienced Independent Financial Adviser.’

At the moment there is much concern globally around the whole topic of pensions and how the current governments are cutting back on what they have provided in the past. Governments around the world now understand that providing generous pensions is not sustainable and are trying to figure out ways to save money. As the populations in Europe and the US get older and with fewer workers to fund the retirement needs of the elderly, the pension problem will only get worse.

Astra over the years have specialized in providing expats with the best advise with regard to what to do with frozen government, private or company pensions when they move abroad. We all know that generally the most valuable assets we have are our house and also our pensions. Often when an expat moves abroad the pension they have built up prior to becoming an expat is completely ignored and put in a file.

Reviewing any existing pensions should be a priority when you move abroad for the following reasons. The dramatic changes in pension legislation mean that without regularly reviewing this important part of your overall wealth, you may miss opportunities, which in the future may no longer be available to you.

A move abroad will also mean that you should review any ‘Will’ you have already made and makes sense to find out whether your Will covers assets you will acquire in your new country of residence.

Astra provide advise and help with regard to all the issues raised above and have many years of experience with regard to all these topics.

bottom of page