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Save money as an expat

May 4th, 2016 at 01:42 am

My newest blog posts is my top 5 Tips on How to Save Money as an Expat.

When living abroad as an expat, it is very easy for the cost of living to have unexpected expenses that you did not plan for. The key in mitigating this risk is to be frugal with your money so that you have the opportunity to enjoy every aspect that your new locale has to offer. Here are five tips on how to save money as an expat:

Use a Local Agent to Find Your Housing:

When moving to a new city, it is wise to not lease your apartment right away. The reason for this is that in many countries there is an underground real estate market that can only be accessed upon arrival. Thus, it is wise to get to the city, explore the neighborhoods by renting an Airbnb or Booking.com hotel in one week increments, and then make local contacts. If you do this, you will avoid apartments that are targeted at wealthy expats and find something that is not only nicer, but also a better value for your money. This will allow you to save more money while you are living abroad.

Take Out Cash in Larger Amounts: If you are planning on staying in your new city for an extended amount of time and you have the proper visa, you will likely be opening a local bank account. That being said, while you are using your bank account from you home country, it is highly recommended to take cash out in large amounts and less frequently. The reason for this is that you will pay less in international transaction fees in the long run.

Open a Local Bank Account: Opening a local bank account is a very good idea. The key to this is that if the country has bank cards that allow you to travel to foreign countries. Be sure to check on this so that your salary is not stuck in the country that you are currently living in. If you do this, you can decide when to send your money home and can also save a great deal of money on currency conversion and ATM fees.

Wire Money Home Less Frequently: One of the main expenses of expats is to wire their salary home. What I recommend to combat this is to not wire more than five times per year. If you do have expenses in your home country, such as credit card minimums, then either freelance to cover those or leave enough money in your home bank account to cover those expenses until your next wire. If you do this, you can save on the $40 banking fee per wire transaction that can really add up over time.
Set Aside a Piece of Your Salary for Savings: The other aspect of living abroad is the gift of getting financially ahead. Many people just live life to the fullest abroad and do not save.

This is a critical error because, if you play your cards correctly, you can come home and be in an entirely different economic situation than before. It is recommended to save at least 30% of your salary each month so that you will have wonderful financial surprise when you return home for your retirement.

Being an expat surely has its benefits. The key is to navigate the financial sector of your experience with care and you will not only have a great life altering experience, but you will also return home financially ahead.

Pensions abroad

March 15th, 2015 at 04:57 am

Let me tell you about an email I got from a J. Doe (I didn't get a permission to republish this story so I'm careful with it). This guy has retired a few years back. Had a decent salary and was eligible for a nice pension at around 5.5K GBP per month.

His children moved to Germany, so him and his wife decided to follow their steps.

They bought a small house, and also brought a large sum of their wonga so they can help their children and spoil their grandchildren. John would transfer the whole sum of 5,550 Pounds a month from the UK to Germany, every month, for the past 2 years, as well as approximately 200,000 Pounds to purchase their current residence, and help their children financially .

All exchanged from British Pound to Euro, of course.


John reports paying what he calls an OK margin for the big transfer (asset purchase), and then paying just about 2% including fees on all other transfers.

He assumes he paid somewhere in the area of 5,000 Pounds in fees. He heard good things about FX companies, but didn't trust them, and ended up paying a lot more than he should have in commissions.

He encountered some of the articles I wrote in that regard, and is now glad to report he pays about half of what he used to pay with his bank, and that the service is good as banks or better.

Good to hear that, and glad to help J Doe Smile