Replace fear of the unknown with curiosity.

Dany Kokey

This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered financial advice. Always consult with a qualified financial advisor for personalized guidance.

Dear Clever Expat,

Let’s talk money, honey! Expat life can be amazing, but navigating finances in a new country can feel like deciphering an ancient code. In some cases, it can literally be just that!

There are visas to navigate, cultures to adjust to, and maybe even a language barrier to overcome. But one thing is certain: You will need funds. You may not need a lot, but you will need to manage your money differently if you want to live the expat dream.

A key strategy for clever expats is to think carefully about the type of life you will have abroad. Will you travel frequently? Will you enjoy the sights and sounds of your new home? Will you come back home regularly? Will you need some type of specific healthcare?

The more details you can provide in your planning phase, the more successful you will be as a long-term expat. A “luxury” life may be more affordable in your new home, or you may be able to live a dynamic and healthy life with your current budget amounts. Many expats choose to buy a new home to help control housing costs. Others find that renting is the flexible option they enjoy.

See what I mean? Decision points each have a price tag associated with them, and planning your expat life will help you determine your budget.

So, with that said, here are some questions to get you started:

Big, but smart, plans: Take some time to visualize your expat life. I suggest writing these ideas down to make your research easier.

  • Where do you want to live? Why? What appeals to you about that destination?
  • What kind of lifestyle do you hope to have (luxury, high-travel, simpler, nomadic or slow-travel, or as a frugal local)?
  • What kind of money do you need for your visa in your target country? Many visas have income or savings requirements.
  • What is the cost of living in your host country?
  • How much do you plan on eating out or in social situations? How much will that cost you in your new home?
  • Do you plan to buy a home or rent? How can you find realistic prices for both options?
  • What kind of healthcare will you need? Will you need to purchase a private health policy in your new country? Will you need to continue to pay for healthcare in your home country, too?
  • Will you need to pay for relocation experts, immigration lawyers, or translation resources when you arrive?
  • How will you save for emergency trips home?
  • What taxes do you anticipate both in your home and host countries? (Consider consulting a tax professional to ensure you’re complying with all regulations.)
  • Can you open a bank account in your new country?
  • Do you have investments that will be impacted by your residence in another country?
  • Is the currency exchange rate beneficial for your finances, or will that create a new set of challenges?

Frankly, that’s a pretty robust list for the first round of exploration. You’ll find that some are easier than others. Your answers may change over time. You may also be able to connect to other expats and learn from their experiences.

From my perspective as an expat, I have seen others who have been very successful making a new life abroad, and a consistent and common theme is that they planned very carefully. Even when their plans didn’t go as expected, their hard work had created a safety net for their unexpected expenses.

You’ll definitely find that finances differ almost every other country’s approach. While you will have to figure out your own plan for your own finances, check out this book from the Clever Expat Bookshelf. Once you read it, you’ll be MUCH more prepared to make the healthcare decisions necessary for a successful expat experience!

A Better Life for Half the Price – 2nd Edition: How to thrive on less money in the cheapest places to live

by Tim Leffel

Description (from publisher): A completely updated follow-up to one of the most popular books in the world on living abroad: A Better Life for Half the Price. Get honest information on international living, where to retire for less, and the cheapest options for where to move.
Formats: SoftcoverAudiobook

Keep exploring!

The Clever Expat

Prepare your finances for living abroad!

As you embark on your exciting expat journey, financial considerations play a crucial role in ensuring a seamless and rewarding experience. Navigating the financial landscape of a new country can be daunting, but with the right knowledge and strategies, you can confidently manage your finances and avoid unexpected pitfalls. 

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