If you’ve been in the UK for some time, the decision of when to return to Australia, or whether to return at all, will often be a difficult one.
It’s possible that you, and your family, have put down strong roots in the UK, so pulling all that up could be a real wrench.
Against that, it’s perfectly understandable that the desire to return to the country of your birth can always be a strong one.
Here are seven practical issues to consider when you’re making your mind up whether to return to Australia or not.
1. Is everyone in agreement?
The bottom line is that it makes the decision easier if both you and your spouse or partner agrees. Disagreements aren’t insurmountable but can add an extra layer of complexity to what is already likely to be an emotional decision.
In a recent article, we looked at what to do if you don’t agree on the decision to return to Australia. If you and your partner aren’t of the same mind, we’d recommend you read through the suggestions we made.
While children – especially younger children – can be very adaptable and adjust to most circumstances, it’s still worth factoring them in when it comes to deciding to move home or not.
Clearly this issue is irrelevant if you’re single and therefore making the decision yourself. However, it can do no harm at all to get the opinion of someone you trust if you aren’t sure about returning to Australia.
2. Do you plan to continue working?
Is your current job secure enough to give you a decent amount of reassurance that there’s some consistency of employment if you stay in the UK?
If it’s not, would you find it easy to find another job if you had to?
It’s possible that you’ll be able to continue working for the same company if you return to Australia. If that’s not the case, however, you’ll need to spend some time researching the job market and working out the likelihood of finding new employment – either before you return or soon after you get back.
3. Are you returning to Australia to retire?
If you’re thinking of retiring in Australia, it’s worth working through the financial aspects before making the final decision. In particular you should consider your accrued pension funds – both in the UK or in a super back in Australia.
There are big opportunities when it comes to transferring any accrued UK pension funds to Australia. This is because of the different tax regimes applying to pension assets. In very simple terms, you’ll have benefited from generous tax incentives when contributing in the UK, and will be able to withdraw from the fund on a tax-free basis if it’s transferred to a super fund.
You can do this from age 55 (increasing to age 57 in 2028). It is then accessible at 60 or 65, depending on whether you are still working.
You can’t transfer any super fund to the UK. You will therefore need to carefully structure your financial arrangements if you start drawing from it if you retire here.
Also consider other sources of income – savings, investments or property – where they are based, and how accessible they will be, wherever you decide to retire.
Whatever your final decision, we would strongly recommend that you get specialist financial advice. Mistakes can prove costly and leave you facing an unexpected and unwelcome tax bill.
4. Have you considered the cost of returning to Australia?
Returning to Australia won’t be cheap. On top of the travel costs for you and your family, it’s likely you’ll have possessions in the UK that you will want to ship to Australia.
On top of that, ensure you factor in the cost of transferring any financial assets. For currency transfers, we’d always recommend using a currency exchange specialist. The exchanges rates will be far preferrable to using your bank or a standard money transfer provider.
If you’re leaving the UK once and for all, and have a property to sell, you’ll need to consider the associated costs of that.
Whatever you decide, there will be tax implications. Again, we’d recommend using a tax specialist who will be able to advise on the best way of dealing with all the separate financial issues.
5. When are you thinking of returning?
As you’ll no doubt be aware, Australia is currently in a strict lockdown, with stringent limits on the number of people being allowed in.
The latest statement from the Australian government, given in the recent Budget statement, was that this is likely to last for a further 12 months.
So, if you’re thinking of returning soon, you’ll clearly need to be sure you’ll be allowed in. You’ll also need to factor in how you and your family will cope with any quarantine requirements on arrival – and the cost of that quarantine.
6. Where will you go back to?
It’s possible that you still have a property in Australia to move back into – as we’ve already considered – once you can get in.
You should consider if you’ll be happy going back there. If you’ve been in the UK for some time, the town or city you left might not be the same as it was.
7. Have you considered all the issues?
Having spent time in the UK, you’ll have a good idea of the comparative lifestyles you enjoy in the UK and Australia.
Any comparison will obviously be subjective, and very much about your personal preferences. Try to ensure your decision-making is balanced and not driven by your own biases and preferences.
For example, the weather is often cited as a reason for returning to Australia, but the peak temperatures have recently exceeded 40 degrees. Could “uncomfortably hot” be a factor?
It’s a big decision and you owe it to yourself and your family to take all the necessary steps to ensure you end up making the right one.
Get in touch
Many of the issues you’ve read here are financial, and we can’t overstate the importance of getting professional advice.
When you originally moved to the UK, it’s likely that the financial arrangements were time consuming and complicated. With you now having assets in both the UK and Australia, there’s an extra layer of complexity and the increased chance of costly mistakes.
So, when you first start thinking about whether you want to return to Australia, please get in touch with us.