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Global Nomads

9 Questions To Ask Before You Become An Expat

9 Important Questions To Ask Before You Become An Expat

Planning to kick-start your journey as an expatriate? Still confused about deciding to settle abroad? Moving to a foreign country on a short-term or long-term basis is in no way an easy choice to make. Your international assignment is a big step in your career, life or even retirement. You may even be going abroad for a few years for extended travel. To make the most of your days on foreign soil, asking yourself a few questions will certainly help. Here are 9 questions to ask before you become an expat living abroad, or even if you have already moved offshore to your dream destination:

1. Where do you want to move to?

Similar to purchasing property, location is a major factor when you are planning to move abroad. Your research about a particular place should help you ascertain whether your expectations as an expat are reasonable. Check out various expat guides online or read what the expats have to say about a particular destination in the bulletin boards. Embracing a career opportunity in a place that doesn’t suit your lifestyle or health may pose several challenges during your stay there.

2. What is motivating you to go abroad?

Some of the reasons why you are motivated to move abroad may include career and financial growth, better lifestyle, lower cost of living, suitable weather, etc. As an expat, you would be investing a lot of time and money, so make sure that you get good returns on all your efforts.

Leaving Abroad

3. Can you communicate in the local language?

If you can’t speak in the local language, learning a few key phrases to at least exchange pleasantries in first-time interactions before you reach your destination can be helpful. After arriving, you can go the whole hog for language classes. Imagine mingling with the locals by speaking their native language. You will surely feel accepted in a new location which you can call your second home once you learn that language well enough.

4. What will be your tax liabilities when living abroad?

Knowing the accurate taxation policies of your expat destination will help you to be better prepared to manage your finances. For instance, a professional in Japan have to pay up to 45% of his salary as tax. Taxation policies may vary from country to country. However, US citizens will have to pay tax no matter where they live and work. It is important to talk to an expat tax advisor if you are moving abroad to discuss your global tax requirements.

Health Insurance

5. Did you purchase International Health Insurance?

OK, we are a bit biased when it comes to the importance of international health insurance. We can’t overstate how critical it is to get global healthcare if you are living abroad. The news and internet are littered with stories about people who moved or traveling abroad without health coverage and were stuck with large medical expenses. You can get a quote for global healthcare quite easily and you can even apply online.

6. Are you capable of handling any emergency, including a sudden move back home?

Your stay abroad should be planned carefully and wisely. Having sufficient money during your overseas visit will help you enjoy a hassle-free time in a foreign country. You can leave some cash in your native place and use it as a financial lifeline to fall back on if required. You can also rent or lease out your property until you are sure about settling abroad forever.

7. How do you motivate your partner and/or children to migrate?

Living life as an expat may be exciting and fruitful for you. However, your family members may not share the same enthusiasm and be motivated enough to relocate. Let them know the positives of being an expat and help them strike a rapport with diverse communities that suit their interests. Learn more about expat kids.

8. Are local healthcare services reliable or do you need private insurance?

Many countries offer excellent healthcare to expatriates, while others offer nothing at all. You would need international health insurance to ensure that you are fit and healthy in a foreign land. Check out the cost of obtaining a new global health insurance plan and see whether it is affordable after your new salary package.

 

9. How will you deal with common obstacles to moving abroad?

There can be many obstacles in your path of being a global nomad. Obvious obstacles include money crunch, work permits, visa, certifications, etc. The hurdles may seem tough to overcome, but proper planning will help you handle every challenging situation. Reach out to people who you feel can bail you out of difficult times.

Next Steps for Expats

After going through these 9 Questions to ask before you become an expat and if you have convincing answers to the questions above, you can plan a nomadic lifestyle in your dream destination. Expat life may not be glamorous for everyone. However, basic steps like going for international health insurance may ensure a happy expat life. Expat Financial can help you make your experience memorable as an expat.

Expat Locations

Becoming a Global Citizen

The opportunity to live a life as a global citizen is one that is appealing to many people. It involves a life of adventure and new experiences. If deciding to become a global citizen, it is important to understand what it takes to successfully take on the opportunity in which you are given and facilitate the transition period. Let’s dive into what it means to be a global citizen.

Health considerations

As many concerns arise about making the decision to become a global citizen, health considerations are likely to be at the top of your priorities before moving. Taking care of your health while living abroad will be one of the most important and crucial steps to ensure a successful and blissful lifestyle.

Global health insurance is highly recommended for anyone living or travelling abroad. The advantages of global health insurance go far beyond basic medical care. It will alleviate any added stress or concerns about medical coverage while travelling abroad, as well as facilitated payments, coverage regions and standard of care.

At Expat Financial, we offer plans from basic in-hospital plans to in-hospital and out-patient plans. We are able to provide various plans from several different insurance companies in order to find the right fit. Contact us today by email at info@tfgglobal.com or click here for a free online quote. 

global medical

Culture adaptations  

Depending on where your global adventures take you, there is a high chance that you will be relocated to a country that will likely lead to a degree of culture shock. The important thing here is to stay as open-minded as possible. Locals will gladly teach you their culture and welcome you into their country, as long as you are willing to immerse yourself in the community.

A useful type for overcoming culture shock is to learn the local language as well as possible. This will allow you to engage with more locals and feel less alienated when exploring and appreciated the new city in which you call home.

Location is key

When it comes to choosing where you want to relocate, there are many different considerations to remember. First, it will be important to understand the local culture and what it will mean to connect with the locals as an expatriate.

A second aspect that is very important will be to find an area that has low crime rates for your safety – whether that is choosing, in general, a safe city or specifically a safe neighborhood. Explore our region & city guides to discover which regions are the best fit for you!

A third factor that is important in choosing a location will be to know what the tax policies are for your incoming country. Many countries have different ways in which they tax their local employees, and as an expatriate living abroad, it will be very important to know the local taxation policies.

Thinking For Abroad

Get involved in local politics and policies.

As important as it is to immerse yourself in a local community, it will be equally as important to immerse yourself in the local politics and policies that are relevant to your new home. Knowledge of local politics will help you understand a multitude of important factors, such as taxation, governance, community values and elections, as these will all be crucial in your development in the community.

It is important to note that it is not recommended to get involved in politics in all countries, and it is important to research beforehand and look into political stability before diving into local politics, especially if you are not a citizen of your new country. Getting involved in politics as an expat in many countries, especially ones with little or no human rights protections, can be very dangerous.

Apart from local politics and policies, we also recommend having a general understanding of global politics, specifically with countries that directly affect your new city. This will allow you to stay aware of external factors and policies that may alter the way in which you engage with your community.

Keeping in touch

Lastly, after making the decision to become a global citizen, it will still be important to stay connected with your roots back in your home country. This can come with many challenges, including adjusting to time zones, whether or not you are in a Wi-Fi efficient zone or keeping this priority top of mind. It is important to keep in touch with members back in your home country in order to maintain and facilitate the transition, as well as keeping in touch with your own mental health.

 

Asian Tourist

A financial checklist is important for expats moving abroad

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.

Asian Girl

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.

Tax Planning

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.

Health Insurance

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.

Expat Tax Advisor

What to look for in an expat tax advisor

The only thing that’s certain in life is death and taxes, and this applies to expats as well. For senior expats and especially expat business owners, finding an expert in the domain of international tax law is a critical step in ensuring that you are complying with tax regulations. Today, we at Expat Financial will be providing you with four key aspects to consider when choosing the right international tax advisor for expatriates living abroad.

Four Key Aspects While Choosing International Tax Advisor for Expatriates:

  1. Always ensure that you hire an entire team of tax specialists, rather than a single tax professional. This will ensure that your tax filings are correct and correctly audited and edited, and will create more security, as team members can divide responsibility amongst themselves.
  2. As expats often travel to countries where the first language differs from their native tongue, it is critical that an expat’s tax team be multilingual. This is another positive benefit of having a group of tax advisors, rather than a single individual, as the subtleties of tax law can often be misinterpreted through translation.
  3. Another essential part of any successful tax team is to make sure that your team has multiple regions under their belt in which they are qualified to give tax advice in. For instance, if you’re working in Spain as an American citizen, you may need a team that is well versed in both Spanish and American tax regulations or at least the ability to find the answers that you require. Additionally, ensure that your team is up to date on the latest tax regulations in all countries that apply to your future expat assignment.
  4. You should also make sure you have a clear picture of how much your tax advisory team will be charging you before they begin working for you. Failure to do so may result in surprise charges at the end of tax season.

It is important that you hire the best expat tax advisors possible as tax mistakes can be extremely costly for people who are already living abroad or planning their next overseas assignment.

In addition to hiring the right expat tax firm, you should also think about your international health insurance requirements for you and your family. Not only will international health insurance plans provide flexible worldwide coverage and freedom of comprehensive, world-class services, but they also come with the peace of mind that expats require. It is also important that you obtain an expat health plan that will allow for medical reimbursement from the local and global medical facilities. This will help you maintain a successful international experience for you and your family.

Expat Health Checkup

Expat Financial offers a variety of international health insurance plans on a group or individual basis. To maximize your expat experience and avoid unforeseen risks and costs, please contact us today to discuss your international insurance needs and requirements.

 

 

 

 

 

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 moments 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 believe they are instantly exempt from their home nation’s tax system; however, this is usually not the case. For example, a British expat living abroad who is no longer a UK resident, he or she may still be responsible for the tax of the profits of a UK business or property situated in the UK, and UK pension income. With 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 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. 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, renting 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 a fixed exchange rate for a specific period of time. Expats should 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.

4. Organize your Expat Investment Portfolio

You should organize and take stock of all your current investments before you 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 housing 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 coverage may not be desirable or even available in your new home country. Also, expats need 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, it’s 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.