Historically speaking, mortgage interest rates in the West have averaged in excess of 6% per annum. And whilst the turmoil of 2008/9 has facilitated record-low interest rates across Europe and the US, this cannot continue.
Foreign currency mortgages have been available for some time and although there is foreign exchange exposure, setting one up could save you a considerable amount of money in the longer term owing to the fact that interest rates in countries such as Singapore & Switzerland are generally very low.
For individuals preferring to borrow in the currency in which the property was bought, this too is possible. And because these banks have dedicated teams specifically servicing the expatriate community, often these rates can work out to better value than a domestic mortgage.
Offshore bank accounts
There are few benefits of opening an offshore bank account unless you are an expatriate. Long gone are the days whereby a wealthy individual can simply avoid paying capital gains tax by opening a bank account in an offshore low tax jurisdiction such as Switzerland. The savings directive enforced by the OECD* requires that all low- or zero-tax territories either charge a withholding tax, or hand over bank details of nationals of their country with money invested there.
For expatriates, offshore bank accounts offer a private and convenient way to deposit money in a tax-efficient manner. Because of the scale of offshore banking, it is far more likely that you will receive a higher rate on fixed deposits offshore than onshore. This aside, most people open offshore bank account for the convenience of having an international multi-currency account with a Visa debit card and Internet banking.
*The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has applied increased pressure on European so-called ‘tax-free’ jurisdictions such as Switzerland and Luxembourg. Please click here for a PDF summary of the directive.