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Expat investments: 7 tips for investing as an expat

23 July 2020

Investing in your expatriate destination can feel daunting too. You may not understand the local market well enough to choose the best options and what if ultimately you want to return to your home country? 

There is a lot to consider before jumping into investing as an expat but with some careful planning you can give yourself the best chance of achieving your financial goals: 

Where you see yourself long term really will impact on your financial investments. For example, if you are an American expat living in Dubai but ultimately planning a return to the US, you may want to build a portfolio of American investments to support you on your return. You will have to balance this need with currency risk and long term currency fluctuations. 
While you may be living in a destination where you pay low or no tax on interest and dividends from investments, the profits you make may be taxed if you want to move these funds home. Some expats use legitimate offshore investment as a means to consolidate finances in a more tax efficient way. Otherwise, it is important to understand capital gains tax regulations for your own country. If you are not sure, seek financial advice when you begin investing to avoid an unexpected tax bill in the future. 
Investing while overseas may open a world of portfolio diversification that is not available to you in your home country.  As an expat you may have access to offshore investments that you cannot access while you are living in your country of origin. You may also be able to diversify across nations, sectors, assets and currencies. Novice investors should proceed with caution as diversified investments can become complicated very quickly. 
Investing in a pension is a tax efficient way to make your money work for you. Take the time to carefully research the best pension for your circumstances. Also check that you can use the pension in your home country or another expat location, depending on where you plan to retire.  British expats with investment experience can manage their own pensions using a Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP). With this kind of pension, you are responsible for making the decisions into which fund your pension is invested. Not a responsibility to be taken lightly, considering investments may increase or decrease over time.  
Stocks are a popular option for anyone looking to build an investment portfolio. If you are based in a country with a well-established, relatively stable stock market, investing locally may make sense. However, if you are based in a country where stock market fluctuation is commonplace, look to invest in overseas stock markets, if it is tax efficient for you to do so.
There is a reason ‘safe as houses’ is a well-known phrase in the UK, where property has been seen as a secure investment since Victorian times. Depending on where you are located, there may be high barriers to entry when it comes to the property market so it will not be for everyone. Despite the adage, the property market is prone to fluctuation, as the world saw with the 2008 financial crisis. However, if you are able to play the long game with property investment, they very often grow again.   

Managing wealth as an expat can be complex but with the right professional advice and realistic goals, it can be just as rewarding in the long term. If you are new to investing, employing the services of a financial advisor is recommended. They will be able to help you navigate the best options for your situation. They will also guide you through the highs and lows of investing as an expat. 


Don’t forget to invest in your physical health and wellbeing while you work overseas with international health insurance. If you have questions on the right expat health insurance plan for you or your family, get in touch, we are happy to help.