Expat News Roundup - week 48, 2012

Posted By Gerardo (gerardo@expatistan.com) on 27/11/2012

There’s no shortage of expat news from the British Isles this week. A home office survey has been released showing expat Brits’ favourite destinations, and once again, Australia has taken the top position. Retirees already in Australia will be hoping that the latest call to unfreeze UK pension values will be heard by the government.

Elsewhere the government of Saudi Arabia is anticipating some serious revenue from fining organizations employing too many expat workers. Officials in Denmark appear to have a rather different dilemma – how to persuade skilled expat workers to stay in the country.

Also this week: good news for those wishing to buy a property in Jakarta, and bad news for anyone with a UK savings account.

Pressure on UK to Unfreeze Expat Pensions

The British government is facing pressure to amend its policy of freezing the value of state pensions for expats living in certain countries.

Expats living in Europe or the USA enjoy the same annual pension increases as those still living in Britain. However, expats in other countries, including Australia and Canada, have their pensions frozen at the value in place on the day they left the UK.

Clearly, many expats feel it unfair that their chosen destination determines the level of their pension, when they have paid into the UK system for decades. Meanwhile, the Australian government complains that its own benefits system is having to plug the gaps in expat income.


Expats can now Buy Property in Indonesia

Expats in Indonesia will soon be able to buy property of their own thanks to a relaxation of local law.

Until now, in common with Thailand, foreigners have been unable to buy property in their own name. A new initiative, beginning in Jakarta, Batam and Bali will allow expats a home of their own as an alternative to renting.

Financing a purchase, however, may not be straightforward. The Telegraph quotes an expat as saying that local mortgages are extremely difficult to arrange for foreigners.


Inflation Hits Expat Savings

Rising inflation and stubbornly low interest rates are together making it very difficult for UK expats to gain any meaningful return on their savings.

At the time of writing, no UK-based saving account offers an interest rate that beats inflation. Inflation-beating offshore savings accounts are also near impossible to find.

While this news won’t please anybody with UK-based savings, expats have the added complication of having to also consider inflation in their new home country.


Denmark Discusses the Welcome Given to Foreign Workers

A debate was held in Copenhagen last week to address why Denmark is seen as a rather unwelcoming country for expat workers.

Attendees discussed the cultural differences that can sometimes result in a lack of understanding between locals and expats. For example, Denmark is said not to have the same office-based social scene that is found in many other countries, resulting in an unsettling lack of camaraderie for those used to a different way of doing things.

All attendees appeared to agree on the importance of continuing to attract skilled expat workers.


Saudi Arabia: Expat Employment Laws to Raise Billions

Saudi Arabia’s new employment laws, recently implemented to penalize firms that fail to employ a fair proportion of native workers, are set to bring in $2.6 billion in their first year.

As reported in last week’s expat news, the new legislation requires companies to employ as many natives as expats. Those that fail to do so must pay a fine for every additional foreign worker.

The high level of income expected from the legislation is no surprise. Currently around 90% of private sector jobs in Saudi Arabia are held by foreign workers.


UK Expats Continue to Favour Australia, US and Spain

A home office survey that tracks migration away from the UK has shown that UK expats continue to favour stalwart destinations including Australia, the USA and Spain.

Following the three regular favourites are Canada, Ireland and France.

Switzerland and Belgium have dropped from the top ten list since the survey was last completed.