Expats - managing finances and paying bills from abroad
You are now an Expat. You are now living and working abroad, but depending on your level of commitment to location independence, you'll likely still have to maintain some presence in the US or Canada.
For example, you may still keep a home or apartment there, along with the related expenses. As you might imagine, banking and paying bills is a bit more difficult when you're living abroad. Dropping a check in the mail won't really work, and you can't simply run down to bank branch on the corner to transfer funds.
Of course, the Internet makes it a bit easier, but you'll still have some groundwork to lay before you depart.
The easiest way to manage finances and bill paying from abroad is to establish two of everything: two bank accounts and two credit cards. Open one of each in your home country, and one in the country in which you intend to live.
Be sure to open your home country accounts before you leave, as establishing an account with a US or Canadian bank while residing at a foreign address is nearly impossible.
Also, it's a good idea to choose a large bank with international experience and a solid web presence. You want to know that you'll be able to transfer funds easily, pay bills at home, and still have money readily available in your host country.
You might also consider opening an international bank account. One of the best known is HSBC, which has branches all over the world. Their credit cards carry no foreign transaction fees (which can be exorbitant) and you'll get the best available currency conversion rates when you transfer funds from one country to another.
Finally, be aware of the financial constraints of your host country. Some countries make it very easy to bring money into the country, but extremely difficult to transfer it out. Put all your money in a Moroccan bank, for example, and you might just be stuck there, because local laws make it impossible to move funds out of the country legally.
Consult with a Professional
Before making any move, be sure to get the advice of international banking experts. Speak with an accountant or lawyer who specializes in international banking, and who can advise you on the best way to handle things like currency exchange rates, whether or not you need to maintain a residence in your home country (and what the tax implications might be if you do), and any unforeseen complications you might encounter when living and working abroad as an expat.
Don't let financial fear prevent you from achieving your goal of living overseas, but do make sure you thoroughly understand the financial aspect of your move. Everything from cashing a check to buying groceries will change for you, and the best way to avoid feeling overwhelmed is to know ahead of time exactly how you'll handle your finances while living away from home.
You may also be interested in:
Australia, Canada, Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Portugal, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, United Kingdom.
We would love to hear from you about your banking experience as an expat.