Living Overseas Permanently – Accessing Retirement Funds

by Kel Davis


One of the most common questions in the financial literacy space today is about retirement funds – is it really your money?

Want to get your money out of the retirement funds? Even if you are now permanently living in another country?

Years ago I watched many countries change the retirement funds laws making it almost impossible to get your retirement savings out. Shortly afterwards they nationalised the retirement funds (we call it Superannuation in Australia, 401K in the USA, FNPF in Fiji and etc.). Nationalising the retirement funds means you no longer have a say in what happens to your money, the government controls all the funds by taking them under its control. The government then decides when, where and how much you can access.

To me, this results in a no decision capacity, effectively locking the funds away from you.

This strategy is poor person’s savings plan, or an effective middle class tax strategy but it is not what the wealthy use for independent retirement.

In my books I shared my lessons on retirement funds and the fact that you are effectively ‘on your own’. It looks like Australia has followed the same path as the other countries, however it has not nationalised the funds (just yet anyway).

These are some questions and answers about attempting to access retirement funds, even if you permanently live overseas.

This article contains 6 examples of popular questions received by SuperGuide from Australian citizens and Australian permanent residents departing Australia, and who are seeking to withdraw super benefits before retirement.

In my personal situation, even though I am past my preservation age and not needing a traditional job, I cannot access super. The reason? I cannot ‘retire’ from ‘not having a job’. If I was working in a job, and resigned to retire then I could access the funds. Because I have passive income, retired early without ‘working’ in a traditional job I can no longer retire. (from a super perspective). Crazy rules meaning I have to wait until 65 to be able to access my personal super.

I am grateful that I learned my lesson many years ago after watching my father get penalised by the government super and pension scheme and deciding to ignore the government’s retirement promise and setting my own path.

I urge you to take control of your own retirement outside the traditional retirement funds, allowing you full control of your future before it is too late. Believe me, this financial literacy advice will serve you well.