As an expat, your circumstances are likely to change more often than if you
were in your home country. Clear financial advice and planning means that expatriate life is
without worry and that your future is taken care of.
Financial planning requirements vary from country to country and
expatriates living in Spain may need to allocate their investments in a different way.
These are the elements that make expatriate financial planning different.
One of the first financial steps when relocating abroad may involve exchanging
currency to that of the new country. It is important to search around for the best deal at
both banks and specialist currency dealers.
If an income is received from another country in another currency, it will need to be
exchanged into the currency of new country. The impact of a regular currency conversion
can leave a person exposed. Currencies move quickly and often; it may be necessary to
“forward book” some of the currency exchanging to fix the rate of exchange.
When it comes to arranging savings and investments, different currencies also
need to be taken into consideration. In principle, if the investments are generating income
used to live on, they should be in the same currency as the expenditure.
EMERGENCY CASH FUND
Regardless of the country of residence, an amount of cash should be instantly
available for emergencies. In the case of expatriates, this fund needs to be higher because
inevitably additional trips back home are required (for example, trips to see ailing and infirm
relatives). The amount required depends on individual circumstances and a financial adviser
takes this into account when financial planning.
Expatriates need a bank account in more than one country; a local bank account is
required in the local currency. It is also often necessary to retain a bank account for residual
issues in the home country.
CHOOSING A BANK
Some banks are available in Spain and other countries (for example Santander and
HSBC) which could make it the preferred choice; a bank might be chosen because it has a
conveniently located branch and cash-machine. Banking regulation differs between countries
which require extra vigilance (the Spanish Cajas and the German Landesbanks may be
examples of this in the future).
With double taxation agreements between, for example, the UK and Spain, it must be
determined in which country tax is paid. This involves definitions of “residence” and
“domicile”. In a home country these are likely to be the same but after relocating, they
may be different. Inheritance tax is different and it is easy to be caught in two tax
A recent survey found that the highest concern for expatriates is to ensure that
they have enough funds for retirement. If retiring in a new country there are many factors to
take into account such as what to do with a pension from another.
Many British expatriates state that the health care in Spain is as good as the UK.
However, despite this many of them return to the UK in later years due to health problems. It
is worthwhile to look into the Spanish state health care; additional health care cover may be
If children are involved in a family move to a new country, schooling is a concern.
Many countries have a requirement to pay towards education costs. School fees might be
required to educate children at an international school. There is also the option of boarding
school (this is an expensive option).