Friday, October 11, 2013

Why Retiring Overseas Could be the Best Financial Decision You Ever

Quality of Life in the UK, Pensions and the Top 3 Dream Retirement Spots 

Guest Blogger, Mario Vitanelli is a writer and blogger who specializes in international politics and finance, retirement and investment for His areas of expertise include European, Asian and the Med region's economic policy; SIPP schemes and QROPS. When away from his keyboard, he enjoys photography and appreciates the rest of the Vitanelli family’s endless patience with his football dependence.

There’s nothing like starting off an article with a couple of depressing facts. So here they are: a recent analysis found that the UK ranked the second lowest in the whole of Europe for quality of life. Only Greece was rated more poorly. No doubt in response to the discontent suggested by these polls, one out of every eight Brits expressed their desire to live somewhere that isn’t Britain. Perhaps you’re among these discontented? If so, where would you want to go?

Everyone has different tastes; divergent interests, aspirations and goals and everybody paints their own unique picture of the perfect place. As such, maybe the best way to go about pinning down these dream expatriation destinations is by exploring the countries with the highest quality of life. It’s generally agreed that the best barometer for ranking quality of life is the United Nations’ “Human Development” rating (HDR).

Before we peruse the three nations which rank highest on the HDR, it should be pointed out that an innate, unfortunate paradox regarding the best places to live is that they tend to cost a bit. So, included among the criteria will be a rating of said nation’s QROPS (Qualified Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme) program- as many expatriates are pensioners and because having the solid economic buttress a pension provides may prove a must in your new home nations. (And they’re one of my specialties.) Without further ado, here are the top three HDR-ranking countries:

From Trip Advisor

Pros: Ranked number one, Norway is also one of the most open-minded and accepting places on Earth. They had a bipartisan governmental women’s rights party formed back in the ‘80s, the 1880s. They were the first independent nation to give women the vote, the first to offer civil unions for same-sex couples (as well as many anti-discrimination laws and full marriage rights now) and the first to sign the UN’s ILO-Convention 169, protecting the rights of indigenous people. They have a social safety net that’s virtually unrivaled, cradle-to-the-grave, and beautiful landscapes- majestic fjords, dramatic mountains above beautiful meadows teeming with life, crystal clear glacial lakes and fast-running streams.

Cons: That cradle-to-the-grave protection ain’t free. Norway funds it with high taxes and the cost of living there is anywhere from 40-60% higher than the UK. (Although Norwegians are also paid one of the highest per capita salaries in the world.) Then there’s the sun- from late spring to midsummer it sets anywhere from four hours a night to not at all, and from late fall to early winter it shows up anywhere from a few hours a day to not at all. Then there’s the snow- in the winter there’s a lot of it. Everywhere.

QROPS: Considering the cost of living, the Norwegian QROPS is actually quite forgiving. There is no tax on pension income and pension inheritance is allowed. Without substantial non-pension savings or a good job in Norway, however, that pension should probably be pretty big to support you.


Pros: A beautiful, exotic country with a friendly, English-speaking popularity. Their beers are very big, the scuba diving, snorkeling, hiking, biking and [insert any outdoor activity here] is amazing. The wildlife is incredible and often absolutely unique to the Land Down Under. Life expectancy is the fourth highest in the world.

Cons: Unfortunately, a really, really disproportionate percentage of the unique and incredible wildlife specimens in Australia can kill you. It’s the only place on the planet where venomous snakes outnumber nonvenomous ones. There are also something like 500 species of poisonous spiders in every Australian household. OK, that may be an exaggeration, but there are definitely a bunch of poisonous spiders. The aforementioned beautiful, crystal turquoise blue waters hemmed by shining white beaches are haunted by deadly sea snakes, killer crocodiles, hungry sharks and horrifying jellyfish. Of course, chances are tiny that any of these nightmare creatures will get you, but they’re there.

QROPS: Australia is a great QROPS jurisdiction, the second most popular in the world actually, with 23% of all recognised pension schemes in Oz.

The United States of America

Pros: The US is the richest nation on the planet, so that’s definitely going to bump up that quality of life. It’s also a fantastically diverse nation both as the population and geography is concerned. The Nation of Immigrants is home to many ethnic populations that outnumber their place of origin’s current inhabitants and a walk through an American city will often feature food, commerce and culture from all over the globe. Furthermore, the terrain ranges from the… ranges, plains and Rocky Mountains out West to the tundra of Alaska to tropics of Hawaii and much in between.

Cons: While walking through those American cities, be sure to keep a close eye on where you’re feet take you. Due to the American infatuation with firearms, violent crime in the States can be very violent indeed. Prepare yourself for the plus sized- cars, motorways, food portions, etc.; although some may consider that more of a pro than a con, I suppose. And depending on where you go, there are definitely local culture-shortages that can prove vexing to foreign urbanites.

QROPS: Unfortunately, the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave does not have great QROPS offerings. In fact, they have virtually none at all. If you choose to expatriate to the States, and many do, you will definitely want to consider an alternate QROPS jurisdiction like Malta, Gibraltar, the Isle of Man, etc.

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