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Living abroad: the key steps for managing your finances

Living an international lifestyle creates a whole world of new opportunities. Enhanced career prospects or better pay and benefits are among the main reasons for moving abroad.

Living abroad: the key steps for managing your finances
Photo: Getty

But new opportunities don’t come without challenges. Embracing your freedom to live abroad or across borders could make it harder to plan a path towards financial freedom.

While your language skills and cultural norms may inevitably become caught between places, personal finance is one area you can keep control of. The Local, in partnership with Barclays International Banking, presents the key steps to building a more secure future – no matter where you call home.

Start planning your future today: find out if you qualify for Barclays International Banking 

Digital banking: track your day-to-day outgoings

From same-day deliveries to social media, we live in an age of instant gratification. But when it comes to money, it makes sense to plan for the future.

You can start by ensuring you have a complete view of your finances right now. That may be easier said than done, however, if you use multiple accounts and cards issued in different countries.

Doing all your digital banking in one place could help you better understand your outgoings. If the cost of living in your new location is high, you want to avoid the trap of splurging all your income. If it’s lower than you’re used to, you could make that count by setting some of your salary aside in a savings or investment account.

Currency exchange: be flexible, move fast

You don’t have to be a forex trader to win or lose big on currency fluctuations. If you’re planning a life abroad, the question of how and when to transfer money deserves some serious thought.

This is especially true if transferring large sums because, for instance, you want to buy a property or perhaps close a savings account. Even with smaller transfers, you can make the money work for you by thinking ahead and being flexible about when you trade.

You may want to set an alert for your target exchange rate in a foreign exchange app so you don't miss a favourable market movement. Knowing exactly how you’ll make a transfer is also crucial. Barclays International Banking's foreign exchange service allows you to trade in multiple currencies – with rates that get better, the more you convert.

Savings & Investments: select your strategy

Living internationally requires you to grow as a person. But what if negotiating culture shock and red tape deprives you of the mental energy needed to grow your savings?

Try not to get overwhelmed by having money in more than one country. Think about what matters to you and select a strategy to match your goals. 

Start simple: for instance, save a fixed percentage of your income each month – and use automated transfers so it’s done before you can spend it!

If you’re investing, consider the risk-reward ratio and pick a strategy. Maximising long-term growth to fund an early retirement is very different from seeking safe, regular returns to support you and your family as you set up a new business.  

Find out today how Barclays International Banking can support your international lifestyle

Property & Family: trust matters 

Few decisions shape your life more than buying a home. If you’re discussing your future with a partner, you need to plan ahead wherever possible. Your dream home won’t come cheap. Nor will any kids!

Photo: Getty

In many countries, you still have the chance of securing a mortgage with a fixed, long-term low interest rate. But if you’re new to a place, take time to understand the local conditions – asking a few locals what they consider to be a good deal might offer valuable insights.

If your thoughts are turning to your legacy, you may want to take professional advice on estate planning and local inheritance laws. Trust is key when it comes to the more personal aspects of personal finance.

Tax & Pensions: pay attention not penalties

As an international resident, you’ve almost certainly attracted the attention of more than one tax authority. So, make sure you know exactly where you’re liable to pay tax.

If you’re an employee abroad, the hard work may be done for you with tax deducted from your salary each month. But if you’re self-employed, plan for the tax bills to come – and how they’ll differ from what you’d pay in your home country. 

Some workers, such as cross-border commuters or those on temporary postings, could be at risk of double taxation. Check any rules you’re not sure of with the relevant tax authority to avoid waking up at 3am in a cold sweat. 

You may also want to check the legal retirement age in your adopted country. Want to consolidate your pension? Look into official transfer schemes, such as the qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (QROPS) for people who want to move UK savings abroad.

Barclays has been managing clients’ money for more than 330 years and has regional expertise across the globe. Click here to find out how Barclays International Banking can help you move towards all your financial goals, wherever life takes you.

 

LIVING IN AUSTRIA

Divorce in Austria: How the ‘culpability principle’ works and what you need to know about it

Austria is one of the countries where divorce can get extra messy as both parties may dispute in court whose "fault" it is when a marriage crumbles.

Divorce in Austria: How the 'culpability principle' works and what you need to know about it

Nobody gets married thinking about the possibility of divorcing later on, but being prepared for this is still crucial to both parties – especially if the divorce will take place in a foreign country with different laws.

In the majority of cases, if the “habitual residence” of the couple is in Austria, the divorce proceedings and laws will also be here. So that means that even if you are not an Austrian citizen, if you reside in Austria and your social contacts, particularly in terms of family and work, are here, this is where your divorce proceedings will take place.

There are several types of divorce in Austria, including consensual and “disputed” divorce. A disputed divorce can be requested due to the fault of one of the partners, dissolution of the household or “for other reasons”.

READ ALSO: Registered partnerships: What are the rules in Austria?

The simplest and quickest way to get divorced is by agreeing with your partner. You have to be separated for at least half a year (that doesn’t mean you need to live separately, but living together as non-spouses) and consider the marriage irreconcilable.

“The concept of household (häusliche Gemeinschaft) should, however, not be taken too literally”, explains the Vienna-based attorney Evert Vastenburg.

“If the parties still live together, but this “living together” has devolved into a pure Zweck-WG where there is very little left in the way of interaction or support, the household could also be qualified as no longer existent. But, of course, this too will depend heavily on the individual circumstances.”

What if there is no consensual divorce?

If the couple can’t agree on a divorce, they will move on to a “disputed divorce”. If there is no guilty behaviour, the party that seeks divorce can sue for it if the “domestic community” has been dissolved for three years (even if they still live together) and it cannot be expected that the marriage will be restored.

READ ALSO: How to become an Austrian citizen through marriage

Things can get extremely ugly in Austria if the divorce is filed on the culpability principle (Verschuldensscheidung), meaning that one partner blames the other for the end of the marriage.

For this divorce to be granted, the party needs to prove that the other has committed an act constituting a ground for divorce (a schwere Eheverfehlung), which has led to an irreparable breakdown of the marriage, Vastenburg explains.

What constitutes a “fault”?

The Austrian law only explicitly mentions two grounds for divorce, adultery and domestic abuse. Still, case law has developed an extensive list of reasons why someone would be granted divorce by blame.

Some examples of violations include mistreatment, prolonged silent treatments, excluding the partner from the bedroom, leaving the household, immoral behaviour, not fulfilling parenting or financial obligations, extreme jealousy, groundless refusal of sexual intercourse, and breaking trust by, for example, checking the other person’s phone and more.

READ ALSO: How Austria is making it easier for non-EU workers to get residence permits

Divorces can get costly and complicated in Austria (Photo by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash)

One case went all the way up to the Austrian Supreme Court, which had to decide whether a very close friendship between a husband and a female work colleague could be grounds for divorce.

In that particular case, the first and second instances ruled in favour of the wife, saying that the friendship generated the appearance of an extramarital affair. The Supreme court disagreed, but the situation could’ve been different if the wife had been able to prove the friends went on a holiday trip together or had been intimate. As it stood, the proof brought to court was not enough.

It goes to show how tricky things can get in Austrian courts, as husbands and wives try to prove each other’s blame.

What difference does it make if you can prove blame?

“In principle, a party found culpable will not be entitled to maintenance”. There are, however, exceptions for complex situations such as when there was a past stay-at-home arrangement, for example”, Vastenburg says.

Still, each case is different, and courts will evaluate how much the person is to blame for the end of the marriage versus how much they’d need alimony.

READ ALSO: Austria’s top court legalises same-sex marriage

It’s worth noting, though, that a party’s responsibility for the end of a marriage in itself does not have any effect on custody, according to Vastenburg.

“For custody and visitation issues, the child´s welfare (Kindeswohl) plays a central role.”, he adds. These rights are only affected if one of the parents could be seen as a threat to the child. “An affair alone would, in principle, not affect this”.

What should people be careful with?

According to expert attorneys, in case it looks like the divorce will head to a “culpability trial”, it is essential that the other party does not react to the partner’s violations with their own. So, for example, a wife who suspects her husband of cheating should not look for proof through illegal or immoral ways – this could be used against her.

Another possible issue is that a spouse suffering abuse could be sued and blamed for the divorce if they run away from their shared home.

READ ALSO: EXPLAINED: How to apply for a residency permit in Austria

“That is a possible scenario because abandoning the marital household on your own accord, i.e. against the will of your spouse, may constitute a ground for divorce”, Vastenburg says.

“The law provides some assistance here by allowing people to file for provisional separate domicile (gesonderte Wohnsitznahme). With this procedure, a court can rule that the applicant is allowed to provisionally leave the household”, the attorney adds.

Aside from not incurring violations yourself, it’s worth remembering that fault-based divorces should be filed within six months upon a party’s awareness of the ground of divorce. Additionally, if the party culpable can prove they were forgiven, the divorce is also not granted.

What advice would you give to someone considering getting a divorce based on the partner’s fault?

“This will depend on the lawyer. My personal advice is always to at least attempt a divorce by mutual consent: it saves the parties both money and especially emotional distress. If this is not possible, a fault-based divorce could be filed”.

It’s crucial to get in touch with an attorney or even help services to get the best help and advice concerning your own situation.

READ ALSO: ‘Taboo in Austrian society’: How women still face barriers accessing abortion

In Austria, several associations advise and offer assistance to people, especially women in need. You can search for “Frauenhilfe” and your state to find the one closest to you.

For emergencies, there is a 24-hours Women’s Emergency Helpline that offers free counselling in German, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian, English, Farsi, Polish and Spanish: 01 71 71 9. They offer counselling by trained psychologists, social workers and lawyers.

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