Wealth Check: 'I'm ready to settle down in Holland or the UK'

Dr Exter is an astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics in Tenerife, Carnary Islands. She has lived in Warsaw and Belfast; the former was a good experience but badly paid.

Dr Exter is an astronomer at the Institute of Astrophysics in Tenerife, Carnary Islands. She has lived in Warsaw and Belfast; the former was a good experience but badly paid. As a result she has a lot of pension contributions and savings to catch up on. Dr Exter has moved frequently, because there are not many jobs in astronomy. But she wants to make her next move her last, and to settle down, either in the UK or Holland.

She wants to save so that when she does settle, she will have money to buy a house and for retirement. She is wondering whether to part-buy with her sister, who is looking to buy in Milton Keynes. She would also like to know the best options for her savings and investments, if she opts to settle in Holland.

We put her case to Meera Patel at Hargreaves Lansdown, Patrick Connolly at John Scott and Partners, and Paul Willans at Blick Rothenberg.


Salary: around £14,800 after tax.

Education: PhD.

Debt: None.

Property: Renting.

Savings: £500 in Royal Bank Scotland. £500 in Nationwide.

Investments: 250 shares in Alliance and Leicester. £3,800 in Scottish Widows Isa.

Pension: £2,400 with Standard Life.

Monthly outgoings: Rent £240; expenses £240; bills £15; pension £180; savings £150; holidays £120.


According to Ms Patel, one problem Dr Exter faces is that her pensions liabilities do not match her earnings. She is currently earning in euros but setting aside money for her pension in pounds.

If Dr Exter is looking to settle in a euro-zone country, such as The Netherlands, her current pension arrangements would force her to convert her fund to euros on retirement. This involves a currency risk which simply cannot be determined at this stage. Ms Patel suggests that Dr Exter should speak to a financial adviser in the euro zone, who is also familiar with the pension system in the country she plans to settle in.

Even if Dr Exter decides to move to the UK, her pension fund is short of what she needs to ensure a comfortable retirement. She will need to increase her contributions in order to achieve this.

But Mr Connolly suggests that Dr Exter might not have her priorities right. Although pension savings are tax-efficient, they are not flexible, and as an overseas resident her options are restricted. He suggests that Dr Exter should divert the money she is putting into a pension to cash savings, for a contingency fund and for a deposit for a house.

Mr Willans warns that the Inland Revenue is proposing to remove the time limit on pension contributions for non-residents - currently five years - but also remove the tax relief. If this goes ahead, he cautions, there will be little point in Dr Exter paying into a UK pension fund. She could, of course, resume contributions if she comes back to the UK.


Dr Exter holds a Scottish Widows Environmental Investor unit trust, in an Isa wrapper. Mr Willans says that the fund has underperformed against its peers and the wider UK stock market, growing just 1.9 per cent over the past year. (The FTSE All Share index has risen 10.8 per cent in the same period.) He suggests that Dr Exter should diversify her holdings.

Mr Connolly goes further, and suggests that Dr Exter should sell both her unit trust and her Alliance & Leicester shares, and use the money to fund her house purchase.

Ms Patel points out that Dr Exter does have the option of transferring her investment to another fund, even though as a non-UK taxpayer, she cannot invest further in Isas. Dr Exter has relatively little in the way of cash savings and should look to build these up.


Ms Patel is cautious about the idea of investing in UK property at the present time, in the light of recent price rises. Prices in other parts of Europe have not risen as fast, so the Continent might well offer better value. Again, if Dr Exter continues to earn in euros, it is safest for her to have a mortgage in that currency.

Mr Connolly says that there is no benefit for Dr Exter in buying a house with her sister. She is exposed to a fall in property values; if values rise, how would she access the profits?

Mr Willans cautions that as long as Dr Exter lives in the euro zone, a UK mortgage would expose her to currency risks. Unless she is heading back to the UK, she should avoid a sterling mortgage, even if it is with her sister.

Advisers' views are given for guidance only.

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Suggested Topics
people And here is why...
Arts and Entertainment
Amazon has added a cautionary warning to Tom and Jerry cartoons on its streaming service
voicesBy the man who has
Arsene Wenger tried to sign Eden Hazard
footballAfter 18 years with Arsenal, here are 18 things he has still never done as the Gunners' manager
Life and Style
The new Windows 10 Start Menu
Arts and Entertainment
Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson star in The Twilight Saga but will not be starring in the new Facebook mini-movies
tvKristen Stewart and Stephenie Meyer will choose female directrs
Arts and Entertainment
Hilary North's 'How My Life Has Changed', 2001
books(and not a Buzzfeed article in sight)
William Hague
people... when he called Hague the county's greatest
More than 90 years of car history are coming to an end with the abolition of the paper car-tax disc
newsThis and other facts you never knew about the paper circle - completely obsolete today
Arts and Entertainment
There has been a boom in ticket sales for female comics, according to an industry survey
comedyFirst national survey reveals Britain’s comedic tastes
Arts and Entertainment
Twerking girls: Miley Cyrus's video for 'Wrecking Ball'
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Ed Sheeran performs at his Amazon Front Row event on Tuesday 30 September
musicHe spotted PM at private gig
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Birmingham - Real Staffing

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Real Staffing are currently lo...

    Trust Accountant - Kent

    NEGOTIABLE: Austen Lloyd: TRUST ACCOUNTANT - KENTIf you are a Chartered Accou...

    Graduate Recruitment Consultant - 2013/14 Grads - No Exp Needed

    £18000 - £20000 per annum + OTE £30000: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 b...

    Law Costs

    Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - Law Costs Draftsperson - NICHE...

    Day In a Page

    Ebola outbreak: The children orphaned by the virus – then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection

    The children orphaned by Ebola...

    ... then rejected by surviving relatives over fear of infection
    Pride: Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    Are censors pandering to homophobia?

    US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
    The magic of roundabouts

    Lords of the rings

    Just who are the Roundabout Appreciation Society?
    Why do we like making lists?

    Notes to self: Why do we like making lists?

    Well it was good enough for Ancient Egyptians and Picasso...
    Hong Kong protests: A good time to open a new restaurant?

    A good time to open a new restaurant in Hong Kong?

    As pro-democracy demonstrators hold firm, chef Rowley Leigh, who's in the city to open a new restaurant, says you couldn't hope to meet a nicer bunch
    Paris Fashion Week: Karl Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'

    Paris Fashion Week

    Lagerfeld leads a feminist riot on 'Boulevard Chanel'
    Bruce Chatwin's Wales: One of the finest one-day walks in Britain

    Simon Calder discovers Bruce Chatwin's Wales

    One of the finest one-day walks you could hope for - in Britain
    10 best children's nightwear

    10 best children's nightwear

    Make sure the kids stay cosy on cooler autumn nights in this selection of pjs, onesies and nighties
    Manchester City vs Roma: Five things we learnt from City’s draw at the Etihad

    Manchester City vs Roma

    Five things we learnt from City’s Champions League draw at the Etihad
    Martin Hardy: Mike Ashley must act now and end the Alan Pardew reign

    Trouble on the Tyne

    Ashley must act now and end Pardew's reign at Newcastle, says Martin Hardy
    Isis is an hour from Baghdad, the Iraq army has little chance against it, and air strikes won't help

    Isis an hour away from Baghdad -

    and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    Turner Prize 2014 is frustratingly timid

    The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
    Last chance to see: Half the world’s animals have disappeared over the last 40 years

    Last chance to see...

    The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
    So here's why teenagers are always grumpy - and it's not what you think

    Truth behind teens' grumpiness

    Early school hours mess with their biological clocks
    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?

    Hacked photos: the third wave

    Why can no one stop hackers putting celebrities' private photos online?