Setting Up Your Finances for Living Abroad


Moving abroad to start a new life is one of the biggest and most exciting challenges that many people ever come across. There are so many issues to consider here, that it could turn into something you need to dedicate a fair amount of time to.

From learning a new language to finding a new job, there are many things you can’t afford to overlook at this crucial stage in your search for a better life abroad. However, one aspect which is more important than most is that of your setting up your finances to live abroad. If you have spent your whole life dealing with your local bank branch and insurance broker it could seem like a huge step to now think about starting out again in a foreign country. So how will you do it?

The Things You Leave Open at Home

You will probably want to leave open your main bank account in your home country. This could come in handy in a number of ways in the future, so even if you don’t expect to ever return home again it is still a very good idea to keep this account running. Of course, you will want to get internet banking set up and make sure that you have a card you can use abroad and a way of getting transactions carried out on your account while you are out of the country. Pension funds and insurance policies are other issues to consider and each case is going to be different in this respect. For example, if you are selling up everything at home then you can safely close your car and home insurance policies. Making a decision on your pension fund could be trickier and freezing payments to it for a time might be wiser than making a definitive decision.

worldThe Things You Open Over There

You will need to open a new account for your home country as well. You might decide to use a virtual account or the one from back home until you are settled in but at some point you will need a local bank account as well. Depending upon your situation this is where things could get complicated. For example, if you receive regular income from back home it could now be changing from one currency to another, which leaves you at the mercy of fluctuating exchange rates. There is little you can do to avoid this except look for the best ways to get the best rate. There are specialist money transfer firms who will make international transfers for you at a much better rate than the High Street banks, so you should investigate this option before you leave home. Finally, control of banking regulations and service levels aren’t of the same standard in every country. What this means is that you might end up lumbered with a feature you don’t want or a risky investment if you go to a foreign bank without knowing the language and culture well. If you know people who already live there you should ask one of them to go with you and make sure that you aren’t being given bad advice by the bank, as this can easily turn into a major headache.

Don’t Make Huge Changes

The previous points might seem like big changes to your finances but for most people they simply involve little changes such as opening up a new current account with a small balance. What you shouldn’t do is take all your money out of your home country in the first week you move and then invest it all in something in your new place of residence. There will be plenty of time for you to make this kind of change in the future so you should start off one step at a time.

3 Responses to Setting Up Your Finances for Living Abroad

  1. Great post, Robert! We often think about how to manage when moving to a new country, and you’ve got great tips here. Thank you!

  2. Moving overseas is definitely a dream of mine. I know it’ll be tough figuring out what to bring, but mostly I think I’d only do with the bare essentials and figure the rest out when I got there.

  3. I have closed a few home accounts in the past and regretted it, because once you don’t have a job or a proof of address it becomes really complicated to reopen an account. I also have a card with 0% on foreign ATM withdrawals that saves me a ton of money. At the moment in Guatemala I was just able to open a savings account so have to queue up at the bank to get the cash, it is convenient to have the card as a backup.

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