Working abroad can be a thrilling experience. Whatever reasons you might have for embarking on your new journey — be it financial or simply wanting a change of scenery — you need to make the proper preparation to ensure a smooth transition into your new home. So with that in mind, here are some important things to keep in mind:
Secure your finances
We’ve all heard success stories of brave people leaving their countries to start a new life with only a dollar to their name, and eventually making a success of it. While that is certainly an admirable feat, it’s still important to put your best foot forward and secure your finances early on — especially if your working visa has yet to be approved.
Before going abroad, make sure you have enough money saved up for your long-term travel. Typically, it’s best to have enough savings to survive for six months in case anything goes wrong — like losing your job or getting into an emergency. Moreover, we previously outlined here on Ria Money Transfer some important considerations before making the big move. Currencies have different values depending on where you take them. So even if you might think you’re getting a comfortable salary compared to what you have back home, costs of living may end up cutting your trip short. Always think of the worst case scenario, and don’t set yourself up to live from paycheck to paycheck.
Prepare for a cultural shift
No matter how much of a nomad at heart you might think you are, working abroad entails a huge life shift. You can still be prone to culture shock and homesickness.
Even workplaces have varying cultures. In an article on Fast Company, it was found that average U.S. employees only received 12-15 days of vacation leaves. This number pales in comparison to European countries, where paid holiday entitlement is set at a minimum of 20 days, exclusive of bank holidays.
In order to cope, keep a semblance of your typical routine back home, like scheduling morning jogs or afternoon tea. Some even prefer moving to expatriate neighborhoods, where there will always be a community who can relate.
Stay on top of your paper work
Working abroad entails a lot of chasing down paperwork. From references and statements of services, to degree certificates and police checks — these are all things that need to be readily on hand before you leave. Depending on which country you go to, check to see what the requirements are and how to prove your ties to your home country.
Arm yourself with healthcare
Many U.S. citizens are surprised to know how much more affordable healthcare is in other countries. As a result, it is becoming increasingly popular for expatriates to move abroad solely for better healthcare.
However, Expat Focus emphasizes knowing your chosen country’s particular regulations first. Some may require expats to have temporary or permanent residency before being granted access to the public healthcare system, which means you might have to consider private health insurance instead.
Know your tax requirements
According to the Huffington Post, the U.S. is notorious for its tax regulations. Even when their citizens move abroad, they aren’t exempt from filing U.S. federal tax returns if you meet the IRS filing requirements.
Host countries come with their own sets of visa and entrance fees. Even with in the U.S., different states have varying tax regulations — some stricter than others. If you’re planning to move to New York, then buckle up for some hefty income taxes and one of the highest property taxes in the nation. Get acquainted with concepts like mansion tax, transfer taxes, mortgage recording taxes, and more. In Yoreevo’s article on flip tax they urge potential property buyers not to overlook this particular tax, which is a “tax” imposed by building owners and not the state. It generally comes as a surprise to many newcomers, especially if their landlords or realtors refuse to cover the payment. This, along with other “hidden” expenses, can impact your stay in NYC. On the other hand, there are countries that are more lenient when it comes to tax requirements. Places like Costa Rica, Singapore, and Hong Kong have their own territorial tax system, which entails that only income generated within its borders are taxed. A handful of countries such as the Bahamas and Monaco come with no income taxation at all. The bottom line is, proper tax planning is non-negotiable before working overseas. If you can, consult with an accountant first so the tax man never comes knocking.