5 things to keep in mind when moving abroad

5 things to keep in mind when moving abroad

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Beacon Financial Education aims to help expats organise their personal finances and educate them on retirement plans, personal lifestyle planning and wealth management. 

Moving abroad can be quite exciting. Perhaps you have decided to start a new career or job in a foreign country, or maybe you are moving for other reasons. Either way, there are a number of important things you will need to do in preparation for your adventure. This list looks at 5 vital things you should keep in mind when preparing to move abroad as an expat from the US.

1. Visas & permits

One of the biggest challenges of moving abroad is coordinating the correct visas and permits for your stay. As a US citizen, you usually have it easier, however, in most countries, you’ll still need to be approved for a visa in order to work and live there beyond the 90-day tourist period.

Most foreign visas are approved via a work permit, so it's best to check with your employer about getting the necessary documents before embarking on your trip. This is an important step because it can be difficult, and it takes time - and you will not be able to stay in your new country for an extended period of time without a valid visa.

2. Finances

When it comes to your finances, as an expat, there are a few things you can do to get ahead of the game. The first thing is your taxes. Moving to a new country is a whole new ball game when it comes to taxes. There are many ins and outs concerning your new country’s tax code, in addition to how your new country interacts with US tax code.

In order to make a living as an expat, it’s necessary to avoid double taxation from your new country and the US. Depending on where you live, there are programs set up to avoid this exact situation. They tend to come in the form of tax credits and treaties. Each country has its own specific tax position, so speak with your financial advisor about the best possible set-up for you and your new tax situation.

Besides taxes, you’ll want to take care of your domestic finances as well. This means informing your bank of your relocation and, if necessary, setting up automatic payments for the bills you will still pay while you are gone. Furthermore, make sure to cancel any bills and subscriptions for services you will not utilize while you are gone, such as electricity, internet, magazine subscriptions, or any other recurring bills.

3. Documents

Sometimes, we take for granted the privileges we have in our current country. When going to a new country, you may have to get approval for things which took time to get approved while in the US.

An example of this is a driver’s license. Take a look at your new country’s rules for international driving requirements. In some cases, an international driving license may be enough. In others, you may have to get that country’s specific driver’s license. Find out what steps are necessary for this permit.

There may be other licenses you have to look in to as well. Any licenses you have in the US for things like your profession may be required in your new country too. Make sure you understand the process of getting these permits in your new country and getting the required documents while you are still in your home country.

4. Family

When moving abroad, you will not only have to prepare yourself for your new life, your family will need help as well. If you have children, this means finding a school for them. In order to have the smoothest transition possible, contact their current school for any documents you may need, such as transcripts, so that your kids can pick up where they left off.

Additionally, you’ll want to request medical records, so that the doctor in your new country understands you and your family’s medical history.

5. Housing

Housing is a two-faceted situation. For one, you still have your current residence. There are many options you can go for if you own your own house. You can get value out of your asset by renting it out. Short-term rental companies like AirBnB allow you to get lots of value out of your home. Or you may opt to find tenants yourself and sign a lease. Both of these options require management - so weigh the risks versus the rewards.

Don't forget that you’ll have to find housing in your new country as well. This is a complex problem, because without knowledge of the city, you will not know which areas are best suited for your family. If you know people in the city you are moving to, it may make sense to ask them for advice.

Everything considered, there are many important things you should do as an expat before moving abroad. Speak with an advisor or relocation expert to get the best experience and smoothest transition for you and your family!

Beacon Financial Education does not provide financial, tax or legal advice. None of this information should be considered financial, tax or legal advice. You should consult your financial, tax or legal advisors for information concerning your own specific tax/legal situation.

Beacon Financial Education provides access to a global network of advisors. Whether you are a US citizen or international from another country residing in the Netherlands, or a Dutch national moving to another country, Beacon can help you find your way in your new country.

Janice Diaz


Janice Diaz

Janice Diaz is an American expatriate living in Amsterdam. She is Vice President of Marketing Development at Beacon Global Group. She often contributes articles to Beacon Financial Education, a division...

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