Moving abroad involves many exciting opportunities and challenges. However, building up a contingency fund for a rainy day, as well as saving towards retirement, should be important priorities.

If you are about to start working abroad, you’re likely to be focused on the logistics of getting settled into your new home, with saving for the future far from your mind. But you should build this into your plans as soon as you can. It pays to have a ‘nest egg’ to fall back on if things don’t work out as planned or to help with financing key life moments, such as buying a new home or supporting children with education fees. And moving overseas shouldn’t be a reason not to start or continue building up your pension.

Build a contingency fund

When you’re living abroad, having a contingency fund can help if you need to cover the cost of an emergency, an unexpected bill or even if you have to fly home at short notice. It’s a good idea to build up a cash reserve of at least three to six months’ salary. Once this is in place, you can look at longer-term savings, such as pensions, but make your contingency fund a priority.

Savings and investments built up while you’re abroad may be at risk of currency fluctuations. Indeed, the biggest concern for those who have built up investments and cash savings in a foreign currency can be currency fluctuations at the very point they need to access their money. If exchange rates go against you, your money could be worth a lot less in your home currency.

To protect yourself against the risk of changes in exchange rates just when you need your money most, consider keeping some of your savings in a different currency. Having an international bank account and savings account is one way to hold multiple accounts and use multiple currencies abroad. You can also use them to make secure international payments in a range of currencies.

This helps to eliminate or minimise exposure to currency fluctuation, but it is not guaranteed.

Holding some of your wealth offshore could also help protect you from economic or political uncertainty, although there are no guarantees here either.

Saving for retirement while abroad

Your ability to pay into a pension – and the tax relief or other incentives you receive – depends on the country you are living in. Whatever the retirement provision available, it is important to speak to your employer and a financial adviser to consider your options.

You will only be able to claim UK tax relief if you have paid tax on UK earnings in the tax year that your pension contributions are made; you were tax resident in the UK at some time during the tax year the contributions are made; or you are a Crown employee with earnings subject to UK income tax.

You can also get tax relief on gross contributions of up to £3,600 if you were a UK resident in any one of the last five tax years before making the contribution and also in the UK when you joined the pension scheme.

It may be possible to continue paying into your existing UK pension plan after you leave the UK, but you are unlikely to receive tax relief on your contributions other than this limited relief available for up to five years.

Just bear in mind that all these tax rules can change, and that their effects on you will depend on your individual circumstances. Barclays does not provide tax advice. If you’re unable to benefit from tax relief on UK pension contributions or pay into an overseas scheme, consider other ways to save for retirement while abroad. More information on tax.

Find out more about retirement planning.


Moving abroad is a big step, especially if you are looking to retire overseas, so it’s important to keep on top of your finances. Build up a contingency fund in case of emergencies, set up an international bank account that suits your needs and learn more about how tax rules could affect you. If you’re in doubt, seek advice from a registered financial adviser.


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