Make a Financial Checklist if You Are Moving Abroad!
Financial planning is often considered confusing, frustrating and time-consuming, especially for expatriates who are busy enough living and working abroad. However, don’t let it frighten you off. Financial planning aims to help take control of your life and budget, and achieve your financial goals. This is very important for expats living and working overseas. In order to have a clear picture of what you want, it is recommended that you create a simple financial checklist before moving abroad.
Do you want to own a home or rent an apartment?
Expatriates working overseas will have the chance to own a larger amount of disposable income. A clear financial goal is important if you want to make the most of your money. For expatriates aiming to purchase home overseas, it is suggested to look for neighbourhoods with appropriate community services and excellent schools. This will be attractive for future resale value. If you decided to rent an apartment, make sure to check the entire room before signing the lease contract. Rental agreements will vary, you are responsible to read carefully before signing.
Do you have emergency savings?
Any unexpected events or risks could hurt your financial health. Financial professionals suggest holding at least 3-6 months of income as emergency savings. This is especially important for expatriates living overseas in the event of any financial emergencies. It is recommended to establish a monthly budget to cover day-to-day expenses, protecting cash account being invested or overspending.
Do you have a retirement plan?
If you have a retirement plan at hand, you will be clear when making major decisions such as what lifestyle you can afford, how much to save and where you will retire. The earlier you get the retirement plan ready, the more comfortable retirement. A lot of factors will help to design your retirement plan: investment returns, cash flow, country-specific benefits, etc. You should talk to an expat investment expert who may be able to guide you in the right investment plans and investments. Generally, the closer you are to retirement the less risk you may want to take. Expats may want to think about if your investment accounts are consolidated and organized?
There are also many retirement hot spots for expat retirees such as Costa Rica, Mexico, Thailand, etc. There are many reasons why expats choose to retire overseas: lower cost of living compared to western countries, beautiful beaches, cuisine, climate, etc. Check out our Expat Retiree page to read more about international health coverage needs for your current or upcoming retirement plan.
Have you undertaken adequate tax planning and preparations before moving abroad?
Tax issues can be complicated, especially for international citizens. Moving abroad can involve significant tax implications – some positive and some negative. For example, some Canadians become non-residents for tax purposes when they move abroad along with significant tax savings depending on the country they will be residing in. For American expats, it can be quite complex as well. It is recommended to visit your local tax office and consult expat tax experts before moving overseas. We often recommend that expatriates talk to an expat tax expert such as Citizen Abroad Tax Advisors. We also list several other firms on our links page.
Have you made financial arrangements in your new home country?
If possible, it is wise to arrange for a new bank account in your new country of residence and bring adequate ID and financial letters from your home bank. You may also need to transfer money into a new currency – we recommend our foreign exchange associates at OFX and use them ourselves. You should also check into money restrictions and regulations in your existing and new country of residence.
Do you have international health insurance to protect you and your family while living abroad?
Yes, as you can guess global healthcare is near and dear to our heats! We work with many expats who reside where the local healthcare system is usually not the best choice. That local health coverage may not even be available, especially if you are residing in the developing world. You may not even be eligible for local healthcare or it simply may be substandard. The cost of using private medical care is usually very high in many parts of the world, especially in parts of Asia and of course the USA. It is common that you may be living in a country where medical care is inadequate, and you may need to see medical care regionally or globally. The expense of emergency medical evacuation is also quite expensive. For example, we know of a friend of ours who was charged 75,000 USD for a short evacuation flight from one island to another. A large medical bill can destroy your financial goals and hurt your financial future. If your employer is providing health coverage, make sure it is adequate coverage for both you and your family. Note that some companies do not extend coverage to dependent spouses and children.
With an appropriate international medical plan in place, many individual expats and their families are covered around the globe (except in the USA unless you add it as an optional benefit). International health insurance plan provides day-patient care and full hospital coverage, preventive medical care, 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 the more rural areas in some less developed countries.
How to obtain international health insurance
Expat Financial can source global medical insurance plans for expatriate families that can provide excellent coverage and premiums. We have been offering international health insurance coverage on an individual basis for many years. For more information, please check out our International Health Insurance page.