Ask Paul: I left my wife and moved to Thailand, can I get a pension?
I am in the process of divorcing my wife and have moved to Thailand while my wife plans to remain in Australia.
At age 70, optimising pension payments is critical for me. We have about $400,000 each in superannuation and the sale of our house should net me about $300,000.
My wife plans to remain in Australia, buy another family home, and use this to keep her assets below the level where they will affect her pension.
My situation is more complex as I will be living in Thailand permanently.
After the divorce my assets, including an SMSF, will be about $700,000 - well above the level to get a part pension.
If I buy a condo in Bangkok, Centrelink will not regard it as my family home and the cost will be included in its asset test.
If I were to leave the $300,000 in Australia and get, say, 2.5% interest ($7500) I would need to pay non-resident withholding tax, which I do not believe I can claim back.
It may be better to transfer the $300,000 to a Thai bank, although I may pay interest there as well.
My rent and living expenses in Bangkok are around $30,000 a year, which I am unable to lower further without living in a shack.
Bangkok is one of the most expensive cities in Asia. Living outside Bangkok, where living is cheaper, has no appeal to me. - Robert
Goodness, Robert, I am so far out my depth here, even flippers and a snorkel will not help me. I'll need diving gear.
It seems to me that you simply forget the aged pension for the time being and invest as well as you can, while living in Bangkok, or you consider returning home and buying a home here in future years and qualifying for a part pension.
I think an expat-type adviser would be valuable here. There are a lot of variables.
It may be you could make an undeducted contribution to super with the $300,000 from your home.
At age 70 there are various restrictions around this that you would need to understand, but super, which is obviously money you can access, may be a great way to get good returns from a large, low-cost manager.
Rent and living expenses of around $30,000 are of no concern to me.
In my overly simplistic example, if you had $700,000 in super, or other investments, an annual draw of 5% would give you $35,000 a year.
There are no guarantees, but with low inflation and historic earning rates on super, as a 64-year-old I am certainly happy to draw over 5% a year from my super for lifestyle spending.
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