Roger Munns is an author and property consultant specialising in property in Monaco and Andorra. Here Roger writes about how a life in Monaco may be closer than you think.
When a private business owner is considering retirement, or has had an offer to buy their business, their accountant will sometimes suggest considering moving to a low tax jurisdiction to minimise their tax bill, depending upon the sums involved.
For those business owners who heed the advice the obvious choices are the Isle of Man, the Channel Islands, Andorra or Monaco - Monaco has no income tax at all but while the lifestyle might be glamourous and the weather far better than the Isle of Man the perception is that it's not affordable.
With regular flights to Nice from all the major UK airports getting to and from Monaco is easy enough for business people, but global property surveys often quote Monaco as the most expensive country in the world to buy an apartment, and those that don't have the Principality top will have it in second or third place.
When it comes down to street level, Monaco again frequently tops the surveys with Princesse Grace Avenue the most expensive street in the world to buy real estate.
So it would seem to make sense that Monaco is the most expensive tax haven in the world, affordable only by the ultra wealthy, as part of gaining residency in Monaco requires buying or renting a property.
Surprisingly though this isn't the case according to banksinmonaco.com and UK businessmen and women who investigate the Principality are often surprised that they have the financial means to live there.
Helped by new residency rules for Andorra, Monaco can be as inexpensive as its main competitor in Europe with a distinct advantage of being close to the European transport system, including the rail network and an international airport.
With Andorra requiring a 400,000 Euro minimum investment in government bonds or buying an Andorra property to that value, or a mix of the two, how can Monaco compete to attract those looking for a tax haven in Europe?
The answer lies in how the applicant approaches residency and property in Monaco, and how long he or she needs a tax haven for.
Given that many of those wanting to move to a low tax jurisdiction only need it for five or six years before they can return home the answer is in renting, and choosing one of the Monaco banks that takes a low initial deposit to secure a certificate showing that the applicant has sufficent funds to be able to look after themselves financially.
A one bedroom apartment in a relatively good building with Mediterranean views and a parking space will cost around 3,000 Euros a month - for two bedrooms the current rentals start at around 5,000 Euros a month.
Part of being accepted as a Monaco resident is showing the ability to support yourself financially, and this is done by getting a certificate from one of the Monaco banks showing that a deposit has been made.
Different banks ask for various amounts, and these can vary widely from bank to bank, but one of the leading ones is able to produce the certificate with a deposit of 100,000 Euros.
So for someone wanting Monaco residency the overall cost of renting a one bedroom apartment for five years would be 180,000 Euros plus 100,000 deposit for the bank (which the applicant keeps).
Or for a two bedroom apartment 300,000 Euros, again plus a 100,000 Euros deposit which is returnable when residency is rescinded.
With the changes made last year in Andorra in 2012, they could be the losers as those wanting to move to a tax haven realise that Monaco is just not affordable, but suprisingly good value when compared to her competitors.
More information about residency and property in Monaco are available at www.banksinmonaco.com