If you’re a regular Get FIRE’d asap reader, you’ll know about our plans to eventually sell off, pack up, and take off to an as-yet-undecided location somewhere in South East Asia.
At this stage, the short-list includes Thailand, Bali, and Malaysia although Vietnam and Cambodia are on our horizon as well.
The reasons for planning to uproot and give up our safe but unadventurous life in Australia are many, but the main two, that I’ve previously outlined, are;
Firstly, after travelling extensively throughout the region over the years, I’ve always wanted to experience what it would be like actually living in one (or more) of the countries I’ve often fleetingly visited.
The second top reason is that in most of these places, the cost of living can be a half to a third of what it is in Australia. Now if you want to dine in western-style restaurants, buy imported foods from home, and drink a lot of booze, it probably won’t be that much cheaper, but live more ‘local’ and you can live a very comfortable lifestyle while your Aussie dollars go two or three time further than back home. I reckon those are good enough reasons to start with.
However, this post is not to tell my story, but to introduce a very timely (for me anyway) article by Craig Joslin, founder of The Australian Expat Investor – A website focussed on supporting Australians living overseas with tips on moving abroad, and information on the implications for your tax, investments, super and healthcare.
Although Craig’s article is specifically about Australians moving overseas, the following may well apply, more or less, wherever you come from.
Five Things to Know if Retiring Overseas
The thought of retiring overseas from Australia can be very exciting. Depending on the country you plan to move to, your cost of living could be substantially lower meaning your retirement savings will go further or you may be able to retire earlier than planned.
Before committing yourself to move overseas for retirement, you should consider a number of factors. Here are five things you should know if retiring overseas from Australia.
1. Tax Residency
The most important question you need to ask yourself when moving to any new country is which country are you a tax resident of.
Your tax residency has enormous implications on how much tax you pay and how you should optimise your investments to be most tax effective. Generally speaking, if you are considered a tax resident of a country then you will be liable to pay tax in that country on your global income (from all sources).
Simply moving overseas is generally not, in itself, sufficient to claim you are no longer a tax resident of Australia.
The Australian Tax Office has a number of tests to determine whether or not they consider you to be a tax resident, and are wanting to see a demonstration that you have severed ties with Australia. Amongst other factors, you are expected to have established a permanent home overseas and to live overseas for at least two years. I outline this in more detail in my Tax Report For Australians Living Abroad.
Australia has entered into many tax treaties with other countries (or commonly referred to as Double Taxation Agreements). These agreements aim to allocate taxing rights between two countries, ensure income is not taxed twice and will sometimes include “tie-breaker” clauses to determine which country a person is a tax resident (when under the laws of each country the person would otherwise be considered a tax resident of both countries).
2. Tax Implications on Your Investments
If you are deemed to be a non resident for Australian tax purposes, there are a number of tax implications to be aware of.
Some of the tax implications to be aware of include:
- Any Australian sourced income (including rent from investment properties, but excluding dividends and interest) will be taxed in Australia at the non-resident marginal tax rates. Non-residents have no tax free threshold, and start paying tax at 30% on the first dollar earned in Australia.
- You will lose the 50% capital gains discount on the proportionate capital gain you make on “Taxable Australian Property” (principally Australian property, but can capture other investments) during your time as a non-resident.
- You will no longer obtain a tax deduction on interest for a negatively geared share portfolio.
- You may need to pay capital gains tax on any unrealised capital gains on your share portfolio when you become a non-resident (unless you deem otherwise).
It is critical you understand your tax residency and the tax implications of moving abroad. You should discuss the specifics of your situation with your registered Australian tax advisor.
3. Self Managed Super Fund Compliance
If you have a self managed super fund (SMSF) you will need to ensure that you continue to comply with the Australian government requirements for SMSF’s when living overseas.
Failure to comply with these requirements could result in the fund paying tax at the top marginal rate.
One of the key tests for ensuring compliance with government requirements is that central management and control of the SMSF should ordinarily be in Australia.
The nature of SMSF is that they are generally run by the members of the fund and therefore when the members of the fund move overseas it becomes difficult to comply with this test.
There are some limited solutions for people living overseas (which may or may not work for some people), and so you should pro-actively discuss the future of your SMSF with your financial adviser.
4. Access to Australian Pension While Overseas
Australian citizens (and Australian permanent visa holders) are generally still entitled to receive the Australian pension if you retire overseas (subject to meeting the usual pension eligibility criteria and scales). However, your entitlement may be reduced based on your personal situation, whether you have previously lived overseas during your working life, and how long you live overseas.
Australia has entered into a number of International Social Security Agreements, and if the country you are retiring to has entered into one of these arrangements with Australia, then your pension will be determined in accordance with that agreement.
You should also be aware that you will need to reside in Australia for at least two years before you will be entitled to continue receiving the Australian pension whilst living overseas.
More information on pension entitlements is available on Centrelink’s website.
There are a multitude of healthcare issues to consider when retiring overseas. Will you have access to good quality healthcare where you plan to live? Will you be entitled to receive free or discounted medical treatment from the government?
Although it is difficult to get clear advice from Medicare on this, your entitlement to use Medicare will be limited to a maximum period of five years after leaving the country. Should you move back to Australia to live, then you can re-apply for your Medicare card. Australia has reciprocal healthcare arrangements with a limited number of countries, but this is usually restricted to emergency treatments only.
Should you wish to consider using international health insurance, then you should also be aware that this can get quite expensive as you get older, or you may not be covered for pre-existing illnesses.
Thanks for the article, Craig.
Living overseas as an expat is vastly different to a holiday and Craig only touches on some of the many considerations to be made if you are planning to live overseas for any length of time. Check out Craig’s website for more in-depth information.
Get Craig’s free ebook at http://www.austexpatinvestor.com
If this sounds like something you might chuck onto your bucket list, I say do your research, don’t rush your choice of destination, and join some of the local expat social media sites to ask questions from those who are already there.
Once you have become unburdened from bringing up kids, paying off the mortgage, and have time to do what you want (you know, financially free and retired early) consider a move to a country you’ve always wanted to spend more time in than just a holiday.
And the great thing is, that it doesn’t have to be permanent. You can always come home if or when you want to.
Have you experienced upping and leaving where you may have always lived to move to a vastly different country, either permanently or an extended period? We’d love to hear about your experience in the comments, below.