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7 Tips for managing expat finances

For expats, those retiring offshore or even those going abroad for over a year, managing expat finances is critical. For most, moving abroad and working overseas can be one of the most exciting things of your life. However, expats will want to plan ahead to preserve and grow expat finances and investments. It is very important for individuals and families to plan ahead and maximize their expat finances. In this article, we will discuss 7 great tips for managing and protecting expat finances and investment while living and working abroad.

1. Know Your Expat Tax Status 

A common misunderstanding about expat tax is when expats move abroad, they are instantly exempt from their hometown tax system. This is usually not the case. For example, a British expat living abroad who is no longer a UK resident (spend fewer than 16 days in the UK), he or she may still be responsible for tax of the profits of a UK business or property situated in the UK, and UK pension income. Other countries such as Argentina, joint filling income tax is not available. For American expats, the complexity of expat tax can be quite daunting. Expat tax issues can be very complicated and it often makes sense to work with a professional firm. It is important to do research and visit your local tax office before moving overseas to make sure that you know the rules. We often recommend that expatriates talk to an expat tax expert such as Trowbridge.

2. The Cost of Living for Expats

Before accepting a job offer overseas, you should definitely do some detailed research on the cost of living in your destination country. This may include any additional costs you may face: school fees, transportation fees (driving a car and parking fees), rent an apartment or buy a house, leisure and entertainment, etc. The cost of living for expatriates can vary significantly from one place to another and will often be more expensive than what the locals pay. For example, according to Numbeo, in Mexico, rent a 3 bedroom apartment in city centre costs over $500 USD; Whereas in Singapore, a 3 bedroom apartment rent per month could almost $4,000 USD. Knowing the cost of living in your destination country will give you peace of mind and let you plan ahead.

3. Currency Management is Critical for Expats

It is common for expats to exchange currencies from their hometown bank accounts into destination country’s currency. However, banks may charge high flat rates and currency exchange rates which expats will want to avoid. This is especially important for expat families with international payments across countries. Some international banks offer fixed exchange rate for a period of time. Expats should definitely explore different methods of managing currencies as this can save quite a bit of money and time. You can obtain more information on currencies and currency issues on our Foreign Exchange page and you should talk to an exchange expert.

4. Organize your Expat Investment Portfolio

You should organize and take stock of all your current investments before your become an expatriate. You should try to make sure you will be able to manage your various stock, bank and investment properties from abroad or if you will have to sell some of those investments before you go offshore, especially for tax reasons. Many expatriates often sell their homes before living abroad, but when they return they find that they should have retained and rented the home as house values have increased dramatically – this is especially trued for many Canadian and Australian expatriates.

Your risk profile may change because you will be living abroad. Will you have the time and ability to manage your investment portfolio and will your new expat location impact your investment decisions. If you have a private or company pension plan, you should examine how living abroad will impact your retirement savings and taxes. It makes sense to talk to an investment expert before you live abroad.

5. Have You Cancelled Payments in your Hometown?

This is obvious. However, many expats may forget to cancel their orders in hometown and receive penalty charges. Remember to cancel any subscriptions such as phone, internet, magazines, etc before you move abroad.

6. Do you have Adequate Life & Disability Insurance? 

One of the most overlooked parts of protecting you and your family’s financial future is making sure that you have adequate life and disability coverage. While your employer may provide some coverage, more often than not it will be inadequate to fully protect you and your family members from the financial hardships associated with a death or disability. Many expats employers only provide medical coverage and expats are expected to obtain their own life insurance or disability income cover. However, when you are living abroad you may not qualify for local coverage and such life cover may not be desirable or even available in your new home country. Also, expats needs something both global and portable. Note that most expat life and disability plans are not portable back to your country of citizenship and if you have existing coverage, its probably a great idea to see if you can retain the policies as expat plans are usually more expensive.

To learn more about your expat life and disability requirements & the policies available, contact our firm for more information.

6. The Importance of Obtaining International Health Insurance

To many expats living and working abroad, the local healthcare system is usually not the best choice. The cost of using private medical care is usually very high in many parts of the world or you may be living in a country where medical care is inadequate and you may need to see medical care regionally or globally – sometime you may have to be evacuated. Either way, a large medical bill can wipe out your investments and put your financial future in peril.

With an appropriate international medical plan in place, many individual expats and their families are covered worldwide (except in the USA unless you add it as optional benefit). International health insurance plan provides day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, maternity and baby care (conditions may apply), dental & vision care and international medical evacuation and repatriation. This is especially important for expats going to visit rural area in some less developed countries.

Expat Financial offers independent advice, solutions and ongoing service and support to clients around much of the world and we have extensive experience in sourcing medical cover for individual expats and expat employers worldwide. We can source plans from large and secure global insurance companies with excellent global service and support. 

If you have questions about international medical insurance plans we offer to individual expats or your company requires a global expatriate group insurance plan, please contact us or complete the quote form. We look forward to hearing from you soon. 

How to obtain health insurance when teaching abroad

Teaching overseas is an exiting and rewarding journey for expat teachers around the world. There are many opportunities to teach English and other subjects in both public and private schools abroad. Many younger teachers will gain valuable work experience that will help their career when they come back to their home country. More experienced teachers may choose to work abroad to experience life abroad, especially in a more exotic country.

If you are teaching overseas for a year or more, it is important to consider adequate health insurance to cover both you and any dependents that may come with you. In this article, we will discuss health insurance options for expatriate teachers and introduce the differences between domestic health insurance and international medical coverage.

Why Should I get health insurance while teaching abroad?

Before teaching overseas, it is strongly recommended to do some research about your current health insurance plan and the healthcare situation in particular country where you are moving. Most local health insurance coverage in your destination country is designed to cover you locally it will not allow you to seek medical care overseas. Depending on which country you are going, in some less developed countries, the local medical facilities may not be up to the standard that you are used to. Therefore, obtaining appropriate medical coverage is very important.

 

Group or Personal Plans for Teachers

Many teachers will be offered to join a group plan offered by the school if one exists or is available. Expat Financial can source excellent group medical plans for schools and universities that provide both local and global medical coverage for the teaching and administration staff. Most teachers will naturally join the group plan that is offered. If your school is not offering a plan that you can join, then teachers should obtain an individual health plan to cover their emergency and out-patient medical needs.

Domestic Health Insurance V.S. International Medical Coverage

In most countries, the healthcare system is divided into two options: public medical care and private healthcare. If you are employed by an institution or an organization overseas, you are probably covered by adequate local healthcare system provided by your employer. However, to many expats living and working abroad, the local healthcare system is not the best choice. In Hong Kong, for example, health insurance is considered as part of expats’ benefit package. This is often referred to the public clinics and hospitals. Though the overall standard of public healthcare system is high in Hong Kong, the system is more focused on emergency care, not preventive healthcare. Also, the public medical system does not provide dental care. The private healthcare system is often chosen by many wealthy Hong Kong nationals and expatriates. This is not only because of its excellence in service and medical treatment, but also the flexibility of surgery bookings to many busy expatriates.

The cost of using private medical care is usually very high. Expat teachers living and working overseas who choose to opt for the private healthcare option should obtain international health insurance to cover emergency and/or out-patient medical costs. With an appropriate international medical plan, individual expats and their families are covered worldwide (except in the USA unless you add it as optional benefit). International health insurance plan provides day-patient care and full hospital coverage, extensive cancer coverage, maternity and baby care (conditions may apply), dental & vision care and international medical evacuation and repatriation. This is especially important for expats going to visit rural area in some less developed countries.

How do teachers lower your global medical premiums?

If expatriate teachers want to lower their health premiums, one can include a larger deductible or obtain a plan that will only cover in-patient expenses that are incurred in a hospital. Most global medical plans will offer three levels of coverage, such as Silver, Gold and Platinum with each plan offering a higher level of coverage and policy maximum. Some medical plans will include maternity care after a 12 month waiting period. 

expat healthcare if critical

How to Obtain International Teacher Health Insurance?

Expat Financial can source global medical insurance plans for expatriate teachers that can provide excellent coverage and premiums. We have been offering teachers international health insurance coverage on an individual basis for many years. For more information, please check out our International Teacher Health Insurance page. 

If you are an international education institution and employing expatriates teachers, we can provide group medical plan quote for your teachers. Please click here for International School Insurance Solutions brochure. Contact us for plan details.