Five finance tips for Brits moving to Europe

Wise

Personal finance expert Emma Lunn shares 5 crucial tips that you need to know when you move to Europe. transferring your money to figuring out your pension, here's what you need to know for the move.

If you’re planning to emigrate for good, or just live abroad for a year or 2, Europe is an obvious destination for Brits.

Scores of European cities and islands are just a budget flight away from the UK and, with air fares low, it’s easy to pop back to Blighty whenever you want.

But if you’re planning to move to Europe to escape the gloomy British weather, for a job, or a whole new lifestyle, you need to get your finances sorted. Here’s some advice to get you started.


1. Research the cost of living

Before you decide which bit of Europe to head for, it’s a good idea to research the cost of living in your intended destination as costs can vary widely.

According to statistical website Numbeo, the most expensive places to live in Europe are Switzerland, Iceland and Norway. A total of 13 countries have a higher cost of living than the UK – these include France, Sweden and Austria.

The good news is, if you want to move to somewhere cheaper than home there are plenty of countries to choose from. Ukraine, Kosovo and Moldova are the cheapest but more popular expat destinations such as Spain, Germany and Portugal also have a lower cost of living than the UK.


2. Understand your tax situation

Moving to Europe won’t make you automatically exempt from UK tax.

Whether you’ll need to pay HMRC will depend on your tax residence and domicile status, how many days a year you spend in the UK, and on other factors such as assets you own in the UK, and your source of income and any capital gains.

The UK has “double taxation” agreements with a number of countries to ensure you’re not taxed twice on the same income. However, in some cases you might have some tax to pay in Europe, and other tax payable in the UK (for example, on rental income if you’re renting out your UK property).

The best thing to do is discuss your personal tax situation, and intended destination, with a qualified accountant before you go. It's strongly advisable to consult with a professional to ensure that your personal tax requirements are fulfilled.


3. Moving money between countries

At some point you’ll probably want to exchange British pounds into euros.

When doing so, it’s important to look at both the exchange rate and any fees. Using your bank might be convenient but it almost certainly won’t have the best exchange rate or lowest fees.

A Transferwise borderless account might be the answer. It allows customers to quickly and conveniently switch between multiple currencies for a fair price, and comes with a snazzy green Mastercard debit card which means you can easily spend abroad in different currencies.

You’ll get local bank account details for both the UK and Europe (plus the US, Australia and New Zealand) – so you can get your European salary paid into your Transferwise account if you want to.

Laura Matthews, 25, who is currently living in Germany, says:

“I found the Transferwise account really handy when I first moved to Germany – I could exchange my money into euros and spend using my debit card. It took a while to open a German bank account so it was really handy.”


4. Get a local SIM card

“Roam Like At Home” rules introduced in 2017 means that when UK mobile phone users travel in Europe, minutes, texts and data will come out of their UK allowance.

However, this doesn’t mean you can use your UK phone all the time if you move to Europe. Roam Like At Home has a fair use limit which means that if in any given four-month period your phone is outside the UK for more than half the time, your network has the option to charge you roaming fees on calls, texts and data usage.

So if you’re moving to Europe for a significant amount of time, it will be best to get a local SIM card.

Laura, who is in Germany for work for a year, possibly longer, says:

“I still have my UK SIM, as well as a German SIM. I bought a Motorola G6 phone which is dual SIM – so I an put both SIMs in one phone and not miss any calls or texts. You can choose which SIM to use for calls and texts so I use the German one while I’m away, and the UK one when I am back in the UK.”


5. Get advice about your pension

If you live abroad and have a defined contribution pension in the UK, you can either leave your pension pot in the UK or move your pot abroad.

This is another factor you should take professional advice about. If you move your pension abroad it will need to be into a qualifying recognised overseas pensions scheme (QROPS) or there’ll be a tax charge.

If you move your money into an overseas pension scheme, you could have less choice about what you can do with your pension pot than if you left it in the UK. You may also have to pay more fees.


Brit in Europe? Wise can help you manage your money across borders more cheaply and easily. Join our 6 million customers at wise.com, or download our Android or iOS app.

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This publication is provided for general information purposes and does not constitute legal, tax or other professional advice from Wise Payments Limited or its subsidiaries and its affiliates, and it is not intended as a substitute for obtaining advice from a financial advisor or any other professional.

We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether expressed or implied, that the content in the publication is accurate, complete or up to date.

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