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How to Make the Most of Tax-Free Earnings

Expats have plenty of spending options to enjoy – thanks to their earnings being free of taxation from their country of origin. (Except for US expats, notably.) But expats also generally know that there’s a bit of a trap in play with tax-free income. It goes like this: You leave your country of origin to take advantage of earnings that are not taxed by your home authorities. You end up with far more money than you would have if you had stayed at home. Your idea is to save enough abroad in a shortish spell to retire at home in comfort. But there are many spending temptations abroad. There are travel opportunities, there’s the brilliant weather – there’s a million reasons to put off investing in your family’s financial future. And what’s wrong with enjoying right now? Enjoying the expat lifestyle is all to the good. But it burns through cash. Can you find a way to spend money that will reap financial rewards in the long run? Here are two ideas – education, and property investment. Why not balance your leisure spending on some educational investment instead? And, if not, look at property, particularly in the UK.  

You can’t start saving early enough for your kids’ education!

It’s not like most expats need to be told that their children’s education is important. But many expats fail to start saving early enough to tackle the high price of education when it comes around. Over half of UAE parents polled by the HSBC in 2017 said that they wish they had started saving earlier for their children’s education. And failing to start saving early enough means that money has to be begged, borrowed or mortgaged. Give yourself a break, and start looking into how you can start saving – and start making what money you do save start working harder. Get serious with your education planning and speak to an IFA! Parental spending on education in the UAE was the second-highest in the world in 2017 – at just under $100,000 per annum. We don’t hold back. The good news is that, internationally speaking, UAE schools are quite cheap. In Expatfinder’s 2018 analysis, the UAE was ranked 18th most expensive provider of International Schools out of 27 countries. International school fees began to rocket in 2017. Expatfinder’s 2018 survey of almost 700 international schools across almost 30 countries revealed “a startling 19% rise in prices compared to 2017”. When it comes to spending on education as an expat, be assured of one thing: by becoming an expat, you have done your children an enormous favour. You’ve made them into what are known as Third Culture Kids – which means the expat experience as children you are giving them makes them ready for anything as adults. Third Culture Kids enjoy expanded employment opportunities because they are going, as teenagers, into a global work market – and they are already far more globalised than their peers. UAE-based anthropologist Dr Joanna Seraphim says Third Culture Kids “are clearly more open-minded and tolerant because they have seen and experienced things that are different from the people in their own country. For example, a person in the UAE has tried lugemat (fried dumplings) from the UAE, masala chai from India, attended the Chinese New Year festivities and enjoyed Iftar with friends.” You won’t waste a penny giving your kids such advantages through international education.  

Property investment opportunities – Britain?

Brexit has got many markets in Britain in shutdown. Nobody wants to spend any money – or risk anything – until the future of Brexit becomes clearer. Read here for an update on a conflicted UK property sector that could go either way. Pay close attention to the UK property sector in 2019. There will be opportunities, whether you are looking to buy-to-let, to settle down or even buying off-plan; speak to a Holborn IFA about your best way to secure a helpful UK mortgage from out in the UAE. Transnational mortgage resolution is bread and butter for the Holborn mortgage team, and will be much easier for you to navigate with experienced hands to deal with the paperwork. Decent off-plan opportunities in the UK are increasingly easier to find. That’s because developers and management companies are wising up to demand from overseas – as well as learning that high levels of support and flexibility for expat clients reap rewards. Off-plan in the UK isn’t the unreliable business that off-plan is held to be in Europe; we’ve all heard the European horror stories. Development and business regulation is high in the UK, and unlikely to slacken off post-Brexit. Of course, the UK is not the only off-plan market currently looking good; off-plan opportunities in the emerging economies of Asia (Vietnam, in particular) are opening up as regulation of foreign investment eases up.

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