Expat Finance

This expat finance guide will help you to get an overview of different financial aspects that you should consider for your move abroad.

Expat finance

An essential part of becoming an expat is keeping control of your finances.

We’ve got tips on looking after your finances and banking abroad. We’ve also got helpful advice when it comes to the cost of living abroad.

As with many other aspects of moving abroad, financial planning is one more thing that will require your time and attention before you go. You may find that managing your money wisely as a globally mobile individual is not such a straightforward process.

There are many things to consider before moving abroad. Examples include: flight costs, shipping parcels abroad and paying taxes abroad.

Moving abroad: Work out your initial cost

cost of living abroad

The first step you may want to take is looking into what your life abroad might cost you. Once you know where you will be moving to, it should be fairly simple to investigate and calculate the cost of living in a particular location. Then it all comes down to planning:

  • Think about what you’ll need
  • How much things are
  • Start to budget and work out costs.

You probably know how much you will need to afford flight tickets, but that’s only the first thing.

  • Will you need a moving company?
  • How much will it be to rent or buy a property?
  • How expensive is your new location?
  • Have you thought of inflation or local taxes?

Make moving abroad less stressful by defining your objectives and the lifestyle you want to sustain. Having a clear direction will help you to set the base for your financial plan. Little things count: don’t consider only big expenses, but everything else.

Find out the cost of food, telephone services, and transportation. Envisaging your daily routine might help you to figure out everything you will need to consider in your budget.

Cost of expat living: Plan your budget accordingly

When it comes to buying a home abroad, it will be very important to plan your budget for the big move. This will help you to plan ahead and budget accordingly.

Finding out in advance about the cost of living abroad in your new country will be very helpful and make the transition much easier once you arrive.

For example, expats who are moving with children might want to consider the cost of school fees before they move.

Banking: How will you manage your funds?

Banking and payment methods can vary from country to country, so find out as soon as possible if you will have easy access to funds from your new location. Maybe you will need to bring cash or traveller’s checks with you, but bear in mind that with large amounts of cash you may have difficulties going through customs. We recommend visiting your local bank before moving abroad, to inform them of your intentions and to help keep your money safe and secure.

A common dilemma for expats is whether to open a local bank account or opt for an international option. Some expats choose to open an offshore bank account which grants easy access to financial savings, but these accounts are not accessible for everyone. Furthermore, some banks require a costly initial deposit, or high maintenance fees. Choosing the right bank account will most likely depend on where you are, your individual situation and your specific needs.

Expats have to frequently account for specific international banking fees, money transfer charges or currency exchange rates. Be prepared for this type of expense, and dedicate some time to study the different financial options you have in your new country.

Before making a decision on what best suit your needs, you will need to invest time to gather as much information as possible, compare alternatives, and exercise forecasting. It can be stressful, but you will find this a rewarding learning process that will help you to cut down on expenses in the future.

Other crucial questions for individuals and families to consider before opening a new bank account abroad include:

  • How will I/we manage international payments?
  • How will I/we manage bank fees?
  • How will I/we manage mobile banking?

Retiring abroad: Sort your pension and benefits

If you are considering retiring abroad, you will need to be prepared to inform the relevant government offices if you decide to go ahead with the move.

For example, in the UK users need to tell HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) before moving or retiring abroad to make sure you pay the right amount of tax.

You will also need to contact:

  • Your local council
  • Any relevant benefit offices
  • The International pension centre

Expat Healthcare: Public or private?

Expats moving to a new country will need to make a decision about their health care. Health standards can vary significantly from country to country, and there are major differences in waiting times, cost, and accessibility for expats.

In many countries it’s difficult to find good quality healthcare in remote or rural areas, which often translates in an inconvenient need for patients to travel to more populated areas to receive good medical treatment.

Individual private medical insurance (IPMI) policies can often be helpful to expats, as many of the benefits within these policies have been tailored specifically to suit their needs.

With Cigna Global, you’ll receive the following benefits:

  • Access to our global network of trusted hospitals, clinics and doctors
  • The flexibility to tailor a plan to suit your individual needs
  • The convenience and confidence of Cigna customer care
  • The reassurance of our experience in delivering international healthcare

We’ve also got helpful advice in our blog with our healthcare articles, such as this one on the best healthcare systems in the world.

Next step

Now you know essential information about managing your finances when moving overseas, read our guide to becoming an expat and see what’s involved in moving you and your family abroad.

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This article serves only as a reference and is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing in this article constitutes legal, tax, financial planning, health or medical advice including diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Any reference to products or services offered by Cigna are available except where prohibited by applicable law and subject to terms and conditions.

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