(This article was last updated on Dec. 31, 2023.)
This article will review more of Novia Global from the perspective of UK expats, as opposed to people who are living locally.
If you want to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, you can email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or use these contact options.
It also make sense to review your policies if you have a Novia Global and aren’t happy.
Our view is that better options exist for most people.
Table of Contents
Who is Novia Global?
Rolled out in 2015, Novia Global is a relatively new global wealth management platform in the expat market that’s registered in England and Wales. It is regulated in the UK, under the Financial Conduct Authority, and is also widely sold in Dubai and Hong Kong and various EU countries.
They use discretionary fund managers such as Brooks Mcdonalds, Ashburton Investments and Bordier & Cie.
You are given the ability to keep track of your investments in real time by using the Novia Global platform, which also provides a completely digital and automated reporting and valuation services.
What is the Novia Global Account?
When you make an investment using the Novia Global platform, you will be prompted to create a Novia Global account. This is a safe internet-based account that will assist you in controlling and managing your use of the tools that they have specifically designed for that purpose.
Because it is hosted online, you can access it whenever you like by navigating the company’s website. Additionally, it gives you access to information regarding all of the investments that you currently have in your portfolio.
It is possible to hold multiple products within a single Novia Global account at the same time. This allows customers to make the most of the numerous product structures, currencies, and asset management options that are available.
Understanding Novia Global’s Fee Structure: A Detailed Breakdown
Overview of Novia Global Fees
Novia Global offers a straightforward and competitive fee structure, ensuring that their clients can manage their investments efficiently without incurring high expenses. The cost efficiency of Novia Global’s platform is one of its standout features.
Platform Fees and Custodian Charges
The Novia Global Investment Platform charges start at 0.30% and decrease to 0.25% for investments exceeding $1 million.
Additionally, Pershing, the custodian service provider, charges a fee of 0.04%. The total fees, excluding adviser or fund costs, amount to 0.34%, which includes both the platform fee and the custodian fee imposed by Pershing. This combined fee structure is among the most competitive in the market.
Foreign Exchange (FX) Fees
For transactions involving foreign exchange, Novia Global sets its fees at a fixed rate of 0.20% per transaction, without adding any additional spread. This transparent approach to FX fees is beneficial for clients dealing in multiple currencies.
Adviser and Fund Fees
While Novia Global allows advice firms to charge up to 5% initial fees and 1.5% ongoing fees, the actual fees can vary depending on the chosen financial advisory firm.
Index tracking funds on the platform, such as ETFs, start with fees as low as 0.08%, while active funds can charge up to 1.8%. The use of Discretionary Fund Managers (DFMs) can add an additional 0.15 – 0.35% to the ongoing costs.
SIPP Costs and Fee Reductions
Novia Global’s SIPP (Self-Invested Personal Pension) costs are notably competitive. In recent updates, Novia announced a reduction in platform charges, further enhancing its appeal to investors seeking cost-effective pension management options.
Fee Transparency and Regulatory Compliance
Novia Global upholds high standards of transparency in its fee structure. Complying with MiFID EU regulations, Novia Global provides detailed quarterly transaction statements to its clients. This level of transparency ensures clients are fully aware of all costs associated with their investments.
Tax Efficiency and Advantages
Novia Global’s UK SIPP offers significant tax advantages, including tax-free growth on investments and tax-free withdrawals for UK residents. These benefits make it a highly tax-efficient option for expatriates and UK residents alike.
What is Novia Global’s interest rate policy?
Novia Global’s cash facility that allows you to store enough money to cover any fees that may become due in the near future are not intended to function as interest-bearing accounts in which you can seek interest-bearing returns. As a result, Novia Global retains all interest on monies that are held in the cash facility.
What are the costs of the platform?
The actual Novia Global platform cost can be as little as 0.2% a year. Once you add the costs of the advisory fees (and asset management fees) however, and you can be charged up to 4%-5% per year, depending on which options are chosen by the advisor and client.
This is one of the reasons why some clients get better returns than others. Client one could be in index-linked investments charged at 0.1%, whilst another client could be in expensive investments with hidden fees.
Many advisers also charge a 2% to 3% set up fee as well.
Investment Diversification Options with Novia Global
Expansive Fund Range and Investment Choices
Novia Global stands out in the wealth management market with its comprehensive range of over 7,000 funds from more than 300 leading fund managers.
This impressive selection encompasses a wide array of asset classes, providing investors with a diverse set of investment options.
The platform’s offerings include Societe d’Investissement a Capital Variable (SICAVs), Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS), Exchange Traded Funds (ETFs), alternative investments, and direct investment in equities and bonds.
Such diversity is crucial for investors looking to create a balanced and resilient portfolio.
Discretionary Fund Management – A Tailored Approach
Understanding the demand in the international market, Novia Global facilitates the delegation of portfolio management to specialist third-party Discretionary Fund Managers (DFM).
This service allows for a tailored investment approach, where experts manage portfolios according to individual investor needs and objectives. Access to leading DFMs through the platform offers a range of investment strategies and options, enhancing the potential for bespoke investment solutions.
Multi-Currency Investment Options
Novia Global’s multi-currency offerings are particularly advantageous for international investors. The platform supports various currencies, including US Dollars (USD), Sterling (GBP), Euros (EUR), Australian Dollars (AUD), Swiss Franc (CHF), and Hong Kong Dollars (HKD).
This feature allows investors to diversify their portfolio not just in terms of asset types but also in terms of currency exposure, which can be a crucial aspect of international wealth management.
Benefits of Currency Diversification
Investing in multiple currencies can help mitigate currency risk and enhance portfolio diversification.
By spreading investments across different currencies, investors can reduce the impact of currency fluctuations on their overall portfolio. This approach is especially beneficial for expatriates or investors with global financial interests.
Transparent and Easy Access
Investing with Novia Global is straightforward, with a secure internet-based Novia Global Account that provides 24/7 access to investment information. This ease of access, combined with transparent reporting, makes managing investments on the Novia Global Platform efficient and user-friendly.
Simplified Portfolio Management
The ability to hold multiple products within a single Novia Global Account streamlines the investment process. This consolidation offers a clear view of all investments and simplifies administration, making it easier for investors to track and manage their portfolios effectively.
Novia Global Investments
Who has access to Novia Global?
Advisers, private banks, and trust companies, as well as their customers, can take advantage of the platform service offered by Novia Global.
What sort of investments can you have with Novia Global?
The platform provides access to more than 7,000 funds managed by over 300 different fund managers in addition to a diverse selection of investment options, such as retail and clean share classes, daily and non-daily dealt funds, exchange-traded funds (ETFs), Undertakings for Collective Investment in Transferable Securities (UCITS), Societe d’Investissement a Capital Variable (SICAVs), alternative investments, as well as direct investment in equities and bonds.
In addition, they provide alternatives such as accounts in multiple currencies, structured offerings, individual stocks, and a number of other types of investments to choose from.
What currencies can you use to invest?
You have the ability to invest in US Dollars (USD), British Pounds (GBP), Euros (EUR), Swiss Francs (CHF), Australian Dollars (AUD), and Hong Kong Dollars (HKD) through the Novia Global platform.
There is a cash facility present in each of the currency holdings. This not only holds funds for the purpose of investing and withdrawing, but also provides liquidity within the account. The cash facility will have the money from sales and dividends from the particular currency holding paid into it. The money from the cash facility will then be used to pay the relevant fees and charges.
In order to fulfill these commitments, the cash facility will be required to hold at least 2% of the value of the currency holdings at all times.
Novia Global is responsible for managing all cash and investments in a manner that is compliant with the client money rules established by the Financial Conduct Authority.
What are the account minimums?
Unlike some other options, the minimums aren’t published on the Novia Global website, but most people start with at least $10,000 — with $50,000 to $250,000 being an average client investment size.
Navigating Tax Implications for International Investors with Novia Global
Tax Considerations in Different Jurisdictions
When investing with Novia Global, it’s essential to consider the tax implications in your country of residence. Different tax jurisdictions have various rules that could significantly impact your investment returns.
For instance, while Novia Global’s platform is considered tax-efficient in most locations, when you withdraw funds, Capital Gains Tax (CGT) may apply depending on your country of residence. It’s vital to consult with a local, regulated tax expert for personalized advice on these matters.
Tax Efficiency of Novia Global’s Products
Novia Global’s products are designed with tax efficiency in mind. For instance, investments within the Novia Global UK SIPP experience tax-free growth, and no country taxes the profits made from these investments as long as they stay within the pension.
Furthermore, UK residents can receive a tax-free lump sum of 25% when starting their pension, known as the Pension Commence Lump Sum (PCLS).
Impact of Regulatory Compliance
Regulatory compliance is another critical aspect to consider. Novia Global is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) in the United Kingdom, ensuring adherence to strict investment criteria and regulatory standards.
This compliance offers a layer of security and reliability to investors, safeguarding their interests.
Importance of Professional Financial Advice
Given the complexities of international taxation, obtaining professional financial advice is imperative.
A knowledgeable adviser can help you understand the tax implications of your investments with Novia Global and ensure that your investment strategy aligns with your financial goals while adhering to tax regulations in your jurisdiction.
What taxes do I have to pay for?
Working closely with customers has shown that the current assumption is that no tax liability is present in most locations as long as the funds remain within the platform and are not withdrawn. If you were to withdraw the money, you might be required to pay capital gains tax (CGT) to the government of the country in which you currently reside.
In order to acquire additional information regarding the taxes that are relevant to your Novia Global account, you may wish to double-check this information with a tax specialist.
What is the duration of the investment in Novia Global?
Money can be invested and pulled out, without penalty, at any point, depending on the charging structure picked on day 1 and which funds are selected.
Some funds have exit penalties, whilst others do not.
Comparing Novia Global’s Performance with Industry Benchmarks
Overview of Novia Global’s Fee Structure and Performance Metrics
Novia Global’s fee structure is competitive, especially for larger investment amounts. Their platform fees start from 0.25% per annum for values over $1 million and 0.30% for values under this threshold.
Pershing, acting as the custodian, charges an additional fee of 0.04%. This competitive pricing positions Novia Global as a strong contender against other platforms like Vanguard and Fidelity, particularly for substantial investments.
Investment Range and Accessibility
Offering over 8,000 funds, including FTSE 100 listed shares, a variety of mutual funds, ETFs, and a significant range of ESG funds, Novia Global provides a comprehensive investment choice.
This broad range caters to the needs of diverse investors, offering multiple asset classes from over 300 leading fund managers. However, Novia Global is not available to US-connected individuals, a limitation that some other platforms do not have.
Fund Accessibility and Client Service
Novia Global’s platform is known for its user-friendly interface, allowing easy access and management of investments.
The platform enables real-time monitoring and offers a full range of automated online services, including reporting and valuation in partnership with Financial Express. This technology integration enhances the customer experience by providing detailed fund analysis and performance data.
Comparison with Morningstar Wealth Platform
When compared to the Morningstar Wealth Platform, Novia Global stands out for its low-cost structure and a wide range of investment options.
Morningstar, on the other hand, offers a broader range of services and caters to US-connected individuals, which Novia Global does not. Morningstar’s platform fees vary significantly based on the investment value, with fees being lower for larger investment values.
Platform Features and Client Flexibility
Both platforms do not have exit penalties or a minimum investment period, offering a high degree of flexibility to clients.
Novia Global’s fully digital platform is efficient for advisors managing client investments, while Morningstar integrates with numerous custodians and offers extensive investment research tools.
Financial Performance and Growth
Novia Global has shown robust financial performance, with a significant increase in pre-tax earnings. This growth reflects the platform’s efficacy and appeal to its user base, underlining its position as a reliable and effective investment platform.
How are my investments safe with Novia Global?
- The unit of the Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BNY Mellon), Pershing (Channel Islands) Ltd., is the entity that is in charge of the custody of the assets with Novia Global. Global execution services are provided by Pershing to a wide variety of asset classes in the US, UK, Europe, and Asia.
- Novia Global is subject to audits by independent auditors. It has strict business continuity and disaster recovery regulations, as well as in-house cyber security tracking and management processes and controls.
- They include a visible, fee-based service that gives read only online access to underlying clients
- Novia Global administers the funds and assets of customers in accordance with the FCA’s regulations
What have been some of the best and worse performing investments in this platform?
This depends on the time period you pick. In recent years, US markets have done better, with emerging and UK markets underperforming.
That won’t always be the case though.
Evaluating the Liquidity and Flexibility of Novia Global Investments
Overview of Novia Global’s Investment Approach
Novia Global offers a robust platform for international investors, providing a diverse range of investment options and currencies.
Their service is designed to offer flexibility and transparency, which is pivotal for investors seeking to manage their portfolios effectively.
With Novia Global, investors can engage in multiple investment strategies, facilitated by a service that reports and allows investment in major currencies like USD, GBP, EUR, AUD, CHF, and HKD.
Account Management and Accessibility
Investing through Novia Global involves opening a secure, internet-based Novia Global Account, which offers 24/7 access to investment information.
This setup ensures investors have real-time monitoring and management capabilities, an essential feature for maintaining liquidity and flexibility in investment strategies.
Investment Products and Options
Novia Global provides access to a Global Investment Account (GIA) and a SIPP, enabling investors to hold multiple products simultaneously for maximizing benefits from available structures and portfolio management options.
The platform boasts access to over 7,000 funds from more than 300 leading fund managers, encompassing a wide range of asset classes and investment options. These include SICAVs, UCITS, ETFs, alternative investments, and direct investments in equities and bonds.
Discretionary Fund Management (DFM) Services
Recognizing the demand for intermediary services, Novia Global offers DFM services for easy access to leading DFMs through the platform. This service provides a multitude of investment options and strategies, catering to various investor needs and preferences.
Currency Flexibility and Cash Management
Investors can invest and disinvest in a range of currencies, offering flexibility for international financial strategies.
Each currency holding within Novia Global accounts includes a cash facility, which provides liquidity and facilitates investing and withdrawing funds. This cash facility is crucial for maintaining a minimum balance to cover fees and charges, ensuring smooth financial operations.
Interest Policy and Cash Facility
Although Novia Global’s cash facility is not designed as an interest-bearing account, it plays a vital role in holding sufficient monies for fee payment.
Clients should note that Novia Global retains all interest on monies held in this facility. In cases of negative interest rates, Novia Global follows the rates provided by HSBC Jersey plc, with an additional margin applied for covering costs.
Platform Safety and Regulatory Compliance
Novia Global is audited by external auditors and complies with the FCA’s CASS regulations, ensuring the security and proper management of client money and assets.
The platform’s commitment to IT investment and cyber security monitoring further enhances investor confidence in its safety and reliability.
Custodial Services and Global Reach
Assets within Novia Global accounts are held with Pershing (Channel Islands) Limited, a subsidiary of The Bank of New York Mellon Corporation.
Pershing’s global execution services cover multiple asset classes across various regions, providing a secure and extensive custodial framework for Novia Global clients.
What are the products and services offered by Novia Global?
They have an international Self-Invested Personal Pension (SIPP) and a General Investment Account. The SIPP is often used in tandem with British expats overseas.
Let’s get a closer look at each product below.
General Investment Account (GIA)
The Novia General Investment Account gives you the ability to contribute an unlimited amount of money to a single account.
What are the features of this Novia Global product?
- reporting and analytical tools
- a variety of opportunities for investments
- a large selection of funds
- charges that are competitive from fund managers
- model portfolios and discretionary fund managers
The International SIPP is an affordable and registered UK pension scheme that has been made particularly for non-UK residents, as well as foreign nationals who live in the UK. Its purpose is to offer wide selection of choices for investment and flexible retirement benefit. This product is only available through the Novia Global platform and cannot be purchased anywhere else.
What are the features of this Novia Global product?
- the ability to invest in a variety of currencies, such as USD, British pounds, euros, francs, Australian dollars, and Hong Kong dollars
- wide array of funds and fund managers
- the ability to access pension benefits regardless of whether or not you continue working, provided that you are at least 55 years old (the minimum age will be raised to 57 from 2028)
- competitive fees
- You will receive 25% of your fund tax-free, while the remaining lump sum will be subject to income tax in the UK at the same rate that applies to your marginal tax bracket.
- flexible options when taking benefits
- complete access drawdown without being obliged to acquire an annuity
- 24/7 access to your most current pension data
Can I transfer a QROPS into my Novia Global SIPP product?
Even if you have already begun drawing income from the pension scheme you are transferring from, the Novia Global International SIPP can still accept transfers from your other pension plans that are registered in the UK or a Qualifying Recognized Overseas Pension Scheme (QROPS).
This implies that if you have previously made provisions for your pension, you will be able to consolidate those provisions within an International SIPP. Transfers from other pension schemes into an International SIPP is not counted against the Annual Allowance.
What happens to my international SIPP once I pass away?
The designated death beneficiaries of a Novia Global International SIPP will typically receive death benefits that are typically paid out by the plan and exempt from UK inheritance tax irrespective of the beneficiary’s age.
Death Before 75 years old
In the event that you pass away prior to reaching the age of 75, the entirety of your Novia Global International SIPP can typically be distributed either as a one-time lump sum or as an ongoing income stream. There will be no income tax imposed by the UK government on the benefits that are provided to the beneficiaries.
Death after 75 years old
In the event that you pass away after reaching the age of 75, any remaining money will be distributed to your beneficiaries either in a single sum or as a stream of payments over time. Any benefits that the beneficiaries obtain will be subject to income tax in the UK at the beneficiary’s applicable marginal rate. The pension benefits will not be a part of the member’s estate for UK Inheritance Tax (IHT) purposes.
What does the MPM tool offered by Novia Global do?
The Model Portfolio Manager (MPM) tool gives discretionary fund managers (DFMs), private banks, trust firms, and advisers the ability to take complete operational control over their model portfolios by creating and managing them online.
Investment advisers, private banks, and trust firms will be able to construct portfolios and start using them within an hour of submitting them.
Additional capabilities include:
- an unlimited number of portfolios can be created, each catering to a different risk profile, for both Novia Global product offerings
- MPM is equipped with the capability to synchronize all of the trades executed by clients within a model portfolio.
What are the positives and negatives of the Novia Global platform?
The main positives
- The technology is good on the platform.
- Novia Global isn’t that expensive although that partly depends on the options selected. We will cover that in more detail below.
- The SIPP can be set up in a cheap way — from 180GBP a year but many additional fees can apply.
The main negatives
- Investor 1 could be paying 2x, 3x or even 5x higher than investor 2 depending on the funds picked and charging structure put into place
- No advice is given on the DIY accounts although advice is available on some accounts
- Countless structured notes have a lot of hidden risks and fees
- The fees aren’t that transparent. If you go on the Novia Global website, it isn’t easy to get a straight answer on the fee question.
- You don’t have loads of investment choice on this platform compared to some out there, which you can apply for here.
- Even though 7,000 funds are enough for some people, if you want to hold individual stocks, you can only do so if they are listed on the FTSE 100. There are other providers who have much larger offerings, both in terms of overall fund range and individual stocks.
- Despite the fact that it supports all of the major currencies, there are other platforms that have a much wider range of product and service offerings.
- When contrasted to a locally compliant solution such as a bond, the Novia Global platform does not give any tax benefits within the medium to long term. In addition, many nations do not acknowledge the validity of any tax exemptions that are not related to pensions.
- The regulation is a double-edged sword. Many advisers will claim that the UK regulation is only a positive. That isn’t true. Such regulation can restrict you a lot, especially when it comes to what assets you can invest in. During a period of low interest rates, and weak government bond funds, diversification into alternative assets is important.
- Following on from point 9, there have been more bank failures in the UK and US, than countries with lower levels of regulations. So, there is no evidence that “government guarantees” work. Moreover, if you wish to have a segregated portfolio, meaning 90% is in conventional assets and 10% in Bitcoin as an example, this won’t usually be possible with UK regulated platforms. In other words, the regulation causes more restrictions and less choices. It just gives people false reassurances.
- It is unlikely you will be dealing with an innovative advisor or advisory firm if they are recommending such a solution.
- They are not able to receive applications from other countries, although they may use pensions and trusts to bypass territoriality rules.
What can you do if you have a Novia Global International plan which isn’t performing well?
If you are a client of Novia Global internationally and you aren’t satisfied with the returns, there could be two reasons for this.
First, it could be that markets aren’t performing well, which can’t be helped in the short-term.
In comparison, the second reason is that bad funds have been picked. In which case, it should be much easier to make the account work more efficiently.
Novia isn’t a bad platform in the expat market. However, their fee structure can still be high, and your “mileage will vary”. What I mean by that is your success will depend on your adviser and your own investment behavior.
It is important to note that the value of your investments can fall and you may get back less than you have invested.
The UK regulation is a negative thing for most expat investors, as it will restrict what kind of assets you can buy.
For most investors, better options exist.
If you have been proposed this option and want a second opinion, you can contact me.
Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?
Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 739.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.
I am the most viewed author globally for financial matters on Quora.com, with over 440 million answer views over the last few years.
In the article below I have taken some of my answers from the platform to speak about retiring in Thailand.
The article also focuses on alternatives for retirement in South East Asia, Latin America and beyond.
Below is a snap shot of the article
Here is a breakdown of some of the best and what you need to do and some considerations:
Thailand now has a huge retiree population. Hot weather, good food, and great beaches make life here easy for many., Bangkok, Hua Hin, Chiang Mai, Chang Rai and Phuket are all popular expat destinations.
Medical facilities in Thailand are world-class, so much that Thailand is now a health tourism location. With world-class facilities offering heart bypasses from around $11,000, you can see why.
Expats coming from the UK and Europe are better off still getting expat insurance though, and for the over 65s, this will cost at least $200-$300 a month, so it’s a substantial extra cost compared to being in the UK or Spain. If you have pre-existing conditions, moreover, you may not get insured.
To get a retirement visa, there are some financial requirements. You need to have a bank account with 800,000 Thai baht (about $24,000) and double that (close to $50,000) for a couple, or a monthly income of 65,000 baht (around $1,941 a month), or a combination of a bank account and income that exceeds 800,000 baht.
After meeting this requirement, you must then obtain a one-year retirement visa. To get this you must be 50, have a Thai bank book and a letter from your bank in Thailand. Also, you will need to provide pictures, a passport and departure cards.
You will also need to get an `extension of stay’ notice and a re-entry permit. This will allow you to re-enter the country if you leave it. Finally, you must report to immigration every 90 days to check in and verify the address you are living in. If you have ever been deported from Thailand or had any criminal history, you may not get the visa.
For people under 50 who are financially independent and retired, you will need to find another solution. One is to enroll in a Thai language course or another education course. Spend a limited amount of money and get a student visa. In 2017, a digital nomad visa called a Smart Visa was introduced. It is designed for business people.
They have currently limited the applicants to startup business owners, investors, high-level executives, or other highly skilled professionals. Visa rules are always changing, but if you have a decent budget and you are under 50, you should be able to get a visa. Spending two to three months a year in Thailand on a tourist visa if you live elsewhere in South East Asia is very easy.
One of the biggest mistakes I have seen in Thailand is underestimating costs. Many Thais live off $1,000 a month or less, and you can too. But this doesn’t include luxuries. To travel a bit domestically and internationally, sometimes eat out, get insured and so on will cost you between $1,500 to $2,500 depending on your tastes and expectations. A luxury retirement with maids and a big house may cost at least $4,000 to $5,000 a month.
I lived in Jakarta in 2013-2014. Indonesia does attract expats as it is the biggest economy in South East Asia. Jakarta is an expat destination but not a retirement destination. It has some of the worst traffic I have seen that prices are high (especially for alcohol) and it is a business city.
Bali and some other beach resorts, in comparison, are laid back and cheaper. You can live in Bali in a villa and enjoy a luxury lifestyle of spas and massages, all for $2,000. A more modest lifestyle can be had for $1,000 to $1,500.
What did surprise me about Indonesia was how strict immigration could be. I found Indonesians some of the friendliest people I have met, but immigration at the airport was an exception. It was curious for me, as for most foreigners from high-income countries, why would they go to Indonesia on a tourist visa to take money from the non-existent Indonesian welfare system?
Based on that experience, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are numerous requirements to retire in Indonesia. In Indonesia, the age in which you can get a retirement visa is 55, five years older than Thailand. The other requirements include:
- Possess a passport or travel documents with more than 18 months remaining validity
- Copy of all passport pages
- A copy of your resume
- A copy of your marriage certificate, if you are married
- Proof of $18,000 per year of income. This will come from statements from your bank or investment funds. Married retired couples must both prove an individual income of $1,500 per month and apply separately.
- Proof of medical/health Insurance, life insurance, and third-party personal liability insurance in a country of origin or Indonesia
- Statement of living accommodation in Indonesia. The minimum cost of $35,000 if purchased house/apartment or a minimum rental cost of $500 per month in Jakarta, Bandung, and Bali; $300 per month for other cities in Java Island, Batam, and Medan; and a minimum of $200 per month for other cities.
- Statement to declare intent to employ an Indonesian maid and driver while living in Indonesia
- Payment of Immigration Fee based on effective regulations
- You must sign a lease for housing with a minimum one-year period. Alternately, you can supply proof that you own a house under an Indonesian spouse’s name.
Cambodia is an off-the-beaten-track location but is up and coming. People are friendly, it is cheap, growing fast and has an easy visa system. Retirees can come to the airport and get a business visa on arrival, and then renew for up to 2 years at a time. Kep and Kampot, moreover, are more relaxed than Phnom Penh or Siem Reap.
Having lived in five countries, visited 35 and visited more than 200 cities, I haven’t seen a place as good value as Phnom Penh for some things. Not cheap, but good value.
Basic goods like water are more expensive in Phnom Penh than China or Thailand, but you can go to an excellent French or other international restaurants for lunch for $10. And that is for three courses! A traditional Khmer massage can cost you $6 to $7 including a tip.
Sihanoukville has a sleazy reputation, but like Pattaya, has been trying to change its image. Some of the beaches are beautiful. It doesn’t have the same amenities as Phnom Penh or Siem Reap, but it does offer a more relaxed lifestyle.
One of the big positives about Malaysia is that they do have a specific retiree scheme. Started in 1997, it has become popular in particular amongst British retirees, which is unsurprising, given that Malaysia is a former UK colony. That fact means that over 90% of Malaysians speak fluent English. Coupled with the golf courses, natural scenery, and excellent climate, this puts Malaysia high on an expat retirees list.
Under the My Malaysia Second Home Program, expats should have at least 1 million ringgit ($228,571.5) in permanent savings plus at least 1.5 million ringgit in liquid assets declared. The program then helps expats get a 10-year visa and also helps with housing.
Like Indonesia, the capital city is more expensive, but the traffic situation is much better. Outside the capital, expat retirees can buy a house for $75,000 to $150,000.
Penang is a good destination for retirement. Cheaper and more laid back than Kuala Lumpur, with a good climate and the same excellent food, Penang offers retirees a great standard of living.
Vietnam doesn’t have as easy visa situation as Cambodia or Malaysia for retirees. But Vietnam is currently in the sweet spot of development in Ho Chi Minh City, the most developed city in Vietnam. It is still cheap, but it is developed enough to offer extra conveniences compared to Cambodia, such as readily available taxis and cheaper consumer goods due to economies of scale and other issues.
Even though Vietnam doesn’t currently offer retirement visas, it is relatively easy to stay on tourist and business visas long term.
However, excellent health care can only be found in bigger cities such as Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, which is a similar case with Cambodia. If you get sick or need certain medicines, Vietnam isn’t the best option, even if you get expat medical insurance. Meanwhile, Thailand offers world-class healthcare these days and health tourism has been their reward.
According to International Living (https://internationalliving.com/the-best-places-to-retire/), Vietnam comes way down the list when considering a good place to retire. I would say most expats (both retirees and working-age individuals) seem happy in Cambodia and Vietnam if they can get used to the way of living.
Spain, Portugal, and Greece
Spain is arguably the `original` retiree destination for British, Dutch, Germany and Scandinavian expats. With cheap or subsidized healthcare if you are from the EU (at least for British people until March 2019!), Spain can compete on cost with Thailand and Cambodia once you factor in this benefit.
With relatively good costs in some parts of the country, excellent climate and proximity to other European countries, Spain, Greece, and Portugal will continue to be popular expat destinations.
In Portugal, retirees outside the EU usually hold Type I visas. That visa requires people to show proof of private health insurance valid in Europe, as well as proof of sufficient funds to support living and a criminal background check. After five years’ residence in Portugal, retirees can apply for a permanent residence visa, with associated health care benefits.
Portugal has a great reputation of having friendly locals, an easy-going lifestyle, and ease of opening bank accounts. Against that, driving is supposed to be dangerous and Portuguese is a more difficult language to learn for many expats compared to Spanish and French, but that will depend on your native language.
Also in the EU, but certainly not a traditional retirement destination, Bulgaria is an up-and-coming retirement destination. With houses from $55,000, cheap costs and an ever-increasing expat community, Bulgaria’s expat community is likely to continue to grow. It’similar to Cambodia within Europe, in some ways.
One of the advantages of Bulgaria is it is in the EU, so expats from other EU countries don’t require visas. Non-EU citizens who are retired in their home country can apply for a Bulgarian Pensioner ID visa and temporary residence permit. Documents submitted to the embassy will include:
- Documents showing you are entitled to a retirement income, legalized with a notary public.
- Document from a bank in Bulgaria ascertaining that the application has a valid bank account in Bulgaria, where regular transfers can be made
- Evidence of address in Bulgaria
- Medical insurance
Mexico/Dominican Republic/Panama/Costa Rica
For Americans and Canadians, Mexico and the Dominican Republic are good destinations. The visa situation is very favorable in the Dominican Republic, with even over stayers fined a relatively small amount of money.
Mexico has an easy-going lifestyle, but many people are worried about safety. Most of the crimes are committed by people who know each other, such as gang members, so retirees aren’t usually targeted.
For Americans all over the world, getting expat insurance will be cheaper than back home. From experience, most Americans are happier with the overseas insurance situation compared to Europeans. For British people who have grown up in a system where healthcare is free at the point of use, people can feel it is an extra cost.
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