Expats Retirement Planning

Everyone looks forward to the day they can retire when your days are your own to do with as you please. Whether you’re an expat living in China or have spent your work life building your career in your home country, retirement is something that people start to talk and fantasize about when they’re still young. 

One common goal that many expats have their sights set on is an early retirement. Of course, it’s the ultimate dream for many, but it’s often in the nature of expats especially to want to finish work while young and healthy to travel the world or perhaps settle down with a nice property somewhere tropical and warm. Any retirement goals are possible to achieve, especially with the proper planning, saving and investing.

But, as an expat, it might seem a little more complicated to plan for your retirement; there are certain things specific to the expat life to be aware of so that you are prepared and comfortable when the big day arrives. So we’ve come up with a list of questions to help get you on the right path toward your retirement.

Where Is Your Money?

Most expats have been bitten by the travel bug and, as a result, have spent time working in multiple countries. If for example, you’ve lived and worked in China, Brazil, and Qatar, you might have retirement savings accumulated in each of those countries. It’s a good idea to think about consolidating your finances and perhaps put them toward offshore investments. But it can become convoluted when trying to organize your accounts and sort out your taxes, so it might be best to speak with a financial advisor to see which options are best for you.

Are You Saving Enough?

Once you know where your money is and have taken the steps to consolidate your accounts, you can start calculating some projections for your retirement. There are calculators online that will help you determine how long your money is expected to last based on how much you plan to spend per year, and they can be helpful in getting a base idea of where you’re at financially. There are other factors to take into account, however, like whether you have investment properties you’ve been waiting to sell or if you are planning on buying something new. Perhaps your idea of retirement as an expat is to keep traveling the world — whatever your goals are, you want to make sure you will have enough money to achieve them.

Is Your Money Working For You?

An advantage of the expat life is that you have the opportunity for offshore investments, which can help you keep your money organized and centralized as you move from place to place, as well as make you money along the way. But no matter where you put your money, you want it to be accumulating capital. You might, instead, decide to invest in a property that you can rent out while you travel and that will be waiting for you when you are ready to settle down, or that you can sell later at a higher price point. 

Keep in mind that your investment goals might change as you near retirement, there is usually a trend from riskier to safer bets as the stakes get higher when you are ready to stop working. Whatever you decide to do with the money you’ve made as an expat, remember that it should be working for you.

Are You Prepared?

The earlier you start saving a preparing for retirement, the better. Putting money away each month that can go toward sound investments is important and the sooner you get saving, the more bold you can be since you are playing a long-term game. 

And you never know what life is going to throw your way, so it is good to have a sizeable cushion in case you need it. Whether an illness strikes you or your partner or perhaps your sailboat needs its hull replaced, you want to make sure you can cover emergencies after you’ve stopped working.

You are probably looking to retire just as much as the next person, but as an expat, there are things to consider since you’ve been living and working abroad. It’s best to be informed and prepared so that when you hang up your boots, you can enjoy your days exactly as you’d like. You’ve been working your whole life towards this golden era, so take the time to make sure you are prepared.

Saving for Your Child’s Education? Look Offshore for the Best Investment Plans

Our years of experience in the industry and knowledge of the worldwide marketplace have given us a real insight into the benefits of both domestic and international policies. We would always recommend for expats to look beyond China when setting up savings plans, especially when it comes to something as important as their children’s university education.

Currency considerations
Taking out an investment policy within China means you will have to use Chinese yuan (RMB) as your currency. That’s fine if you’re planning to stay in the country long-term, but as an expat it’s likely that you will return to your home country or move on at some point. If the latter is the case, taking your savings out of China could prove problematic, as you will have to contend with stringent banking controls and foreign exchange restrictions.

It is much more straightforward to hold your savings in a currency or currencies of your choice overseas; you’ll have a greater level of flexibility if your circumstances change. Most expat children choose to study at universities outside of China, so holding a policy using RMB could be extremely limiting down the line.

investments-for-expats-chinaA young investment climate
While China is one of the world’s most rapidly-growing nations, its stock market and investment plan portfolio are both still relatively immature when compared to more established countries such as the UK and the US. Therefore, it’s advisable to choose savings plans outside China as you’ll benefit from greater stability for your money.

This is vital when you have a clear, long-term financial goal such as saving for your child’s education. Of course, all investment comes with some risk, but with careful research you can guard against some of this uncertainty to ensure you’re getting the most for your money.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket
Choosing to keep your money in China will limit your investment options considerably, as domestic policies are heavily focused on the local market. By looking internationally, you’ll have access to an enormous range of products and services, ensuring that whatever your budget or savings needs, there will be a policy to suit you.

It’s a cliché, but when you do your research and get the right advice; the world really is your oyster when it comes to finding the best deals. As any savvy investor knows, diversification is the key to a successful savings strategy.

Offshore investments offer lots of benefits
There are a multitude of other benefits for expats who invest internationally, including increased levels of investor protection and greater tax efficiencies. Working with an international brokerage also means there are no language barriers to overcome, while having your paperwork completed in English will ensure transparency and peace of mind when it comes to control of your investments.

The importance of planning ahead 
Wherever you decide to put your money, the most important thing is thinking long-term about your children’s future needs. Getting a degree is one of the most expensive endeavours a person can achieve – and the costs are likely to rise even further by the time your offspring head off to university.

Did you know that the average cost of a four-year course in the US is just under USD 125,000, as high as HKD 495,000 (around USD 64,285) in Hong Kong, and GBP 33,000 in the UK (around USD 54,780)? Factor in the very likely increase in fees, and you could be looking at close to USD 300,827 for a course in the US in 18 years’ time. What’s more, these staggering amounts are for course fees alone – meaning that costs like accommodation, textbooks, food, or spending money still need to be accounted for.

So pat yourself on the back for putting plans in place now. With the right advice, you’ll be safe in the knowledge that you’ve chosen the best offshore investment plan for your circumstances, giving you peace of mind that you can support your child as they work towards achieving their educational goals.

Mark Matlaszek has lived in China for over ten years and is the director of BlueStar AMG in Beijing. He has been helping expat families plan for their children’s future education costs for the last decade, as well helping parents plan for their retirement. For more information on the company, visit www.bluestar-amg.com. If you would like a free consultation, contact Matlaszek directly at [email protected]

Education plans are vital in supporting your children through university


If you’ve got young children who haven’t even started school yet, it can seem ridiculous to worry about how you’ll support them through university. But with higher education institutions in the UK currently charging up to £9,000 a year in fees, who’s to say how much your little ones will be paying by the time they become undergraduates?

The fact is that they could end up owing tens of thousands once they’ve achieved letters after their name – setting them back hugely when they enter the workplace.

So, as a parent, what should you be doing to ensure your offspring aren’t saddled with huge debts just for getting a degree? The simple answer is to start saving as soon as possible; in fact, the majority of parents in the US set up a college fund soon after their children are born. Having more time in which to save means you won’t have to put as much money aside each month, making it more manageable for you in the long run.

It’s important to note that education fees have historically risen faster than inflation, at an average rate of 5 per cent per annum, so make sure you factor this into your savings plan. You will also need to think about the costs of your child living away from home as well as the university fees themselves, although they should be able to make up a small shortfall through part-time working while studying and during holidays. There are many offshore savings accounts that will give you a good return on your money by the time your child goes to university.

With interest rates remaining low for the foreseeable future, it is also worth considering putting some of your money into stock market investments. These are historically a better earner than savings accounts – although always be aware that investing in this way comes with a risk factor.

As with all savings options, BlueStar AMG can guide you in the right direction, ensuring that your offspring will be financially secure by the time they head off to university.