8 Out-of-the-Box Tips for U.S. Expats

Expat communities are an invaluable source of information on top of serving the purpose of socialization. Depending on the country of your residence, some pieces of information may be easily overlooked. However, once you’ve got everything in order, you’ll find out that there are many seemingly insignificant tips that the community may share. Let’s consider some of the most useful tips for expats anywhere in the world – ready to take the digital workspace by storm.  

1. Keep Copies of Any Papers You Might Need in the Future

Many people find the process of moving abroad cumbersome, especially in terms of paperwork. Once they have all the documents assembled, they include them with their application and think the matter is as good as over.

We would strongly suggest, however, that you keep copies of important papers handy and also with your family members back home. The process of obtaining a missing paper from abroad is not a laughable task, so it should be avoided whenever possible. 

2. Calculate Your Taxes in Advance

Hardly anyone ever forgets about taxes and local legislation, but the typical mistake expats make is leaving them out of their financial calculations when arriving in their destination country. This applies to both U.S. and local taxes, and many expats use professional services to help them keep track of their financial obligations.

As for U.S. taxes, there are two types to consider: federal and state taxes. You should familiarize yourself with the axes of the country you’re residing in upon arrival and decide whether you need to hire a local expert to help you keep track of everything. Foreign country taxes can sometimes be troublesome, too, given that expats rarely know all the fine details and small print.

3. Keep an Eye on Your Bank Back Home

Before setting out, make certain to inform your bank that you’ll be moving to a different country. Repeat that as many times as needed until you are certain that nothing will go amiss.

Mainly, this means that your credit and debit cards should never fail you, but it is still recommended to always keep a stash of money. After all, banks change the rules of the game all the time and getting things in order from abroad may prove extremely difficult if not altogether impossible.

As far as credit and debit cards are concerned, don’t forget to inform yourself about the fees. You will need a card with no foreign transaction fees. The fees can be anywhere from 2% to 5% per transaction, which is never a good deal. A better option always exists, so make sure to look up all options before you leave.

4. Rely on Your Family

It is never a good idea to up and leave without having a backup option, as we’ve already seen in the example of document copies. If you don’t have any family members, rely on a good friend instead.

With the rise of IT technologies, online communication has never been easier, plus it’s free. Keep in touch with your family and friends on a regular basis. Additionally, you may be communicating with team members all across the world, so be prepared for team collaborations – even though you may be freelancing.

5. Stock up on Your Favorite Products

Many expats are in the habit of buying snacks when going back home, but this is by no means the only product people bring back with them to their country of residence.

Some people can’t live without U.S. electronics, others – without their favorite cosmetic products, and so on. Whatever it is you won’t be able to purchase in the country you’re moving to (or if it will be more expensive), bring it with you!

When visiting home, restock on your favorite products.

6. Cancel All Unneeded Subscriptions

There is always something we forget to do. In most cases, it is a forgotten subscription. Sure, nobody ever forgets to cancel phone plans and rents, probably the gym memberships as well, but what about miscellaneous subscriptions like your favorite magazine?

Before leaving the U.S., make a list of all subscriptions and go through it. Not all subscriptions are necessarily unneeded; e.g., if Netflix is available in the country you’re relocating to, there’s no need to cancel it.

However, while you think you won’t be needing any snail mail deliveries, you’ll still need to make sure to forward your mail to a trusted friend or family member. Simply change the address online.

Finally, don’t forget to buy a local SIM card upon arrival. It is guaranteed to be cheaper than using roaming services of a U.S. provider.

7. What About Insurance?

Insurance policies are a delicate topic for many U.S. citizens, not only for expats. Because there are so many different options, there is never a one-size-fits all solution suitable for everyone.  

One thing is certain, though. Not having a health insurance policy wherever you are is a terrible idea. On that note, it is also a good idea to do a health checkup before leaving, while your old policy still holds.  

Generally speaking, the easiest way to decide whether you keep your present policy or not is by calculating whether the premiums are worth paying while you’re away. Because many foreign countries require that you have a local health insurance policy, sometimes keeping the policy at home may be too expensive.

What you won’t need while you are away is a car insurance policy. Well, not the one most people have, anyway. Since your car will be parked somewhere, it should be insured against unforeseen circumstances (a tree falling on the garage or similar) but not against car accidents. Shortly put, if you’re not planning to sell your car, downgrade your car insurance policy. If you’re planning to sell your car, do it immediately. Its value will only go down with time, so there’s no point in paying an insurance policy in the meanwhile.

8. Bringing Your Pet With You?

Pet owners have more paperwork to do and more obstacles to overcome. Namely, there is no universal rule that applies to all countries in the world. Each country has a different set of rules when it comes to “importing” pets, so make certain to inform yourself about the requirements well in advance.

Mostly all countries ask for the pet to be vaccinated, but some may require a rabies test, too. The test is recommended anyway, as it may shorten the quarantine time.

Some countries, like Bali, don’t allow pet import at all. Hence, start preparing in a timely manner.

Conclusion

As you can see, there is always a thing or two you may have forgotten, but luckily, the expat community is always there to remind you about them. Bottom line, as long as you have a backup option, keep a copy of important documents and keep in touch with family and friends back home, no obstacle should prove too difficult. And, if you’ve already had experience with working remotely, then it won’t be a problem to adjust not going into an office every day. However, if you do like a community environment, try any number of coworking spaces (depending on country pandemic regulations) at your new destination.

Get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!