7 money moves for living abroad

Moving to a foreign country without a financial plan could prove disastrous. These tips will help you play it safe.

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Nov 22, 2013 11:50AM
Not a great plan to have your money in a bank in Latin America or any third world country.    Most of the banks have no government backed security and if the bank goes south (and many do) there went your money.  Also, there is the problem with devaluation of the national currency.    You can retain your money in a U.S. bank and simply use your debit card to withdraw for what you need.   You will be paid in the national currency but you are living there so there is no difference.    If you are on medicare, sorry it pays for nothing in those countries.   Also, for paying your bills in the U.S., you can use the internet and pay all your bills on line.   Just make sure when you are selecting a country you put in all expenses and be reasonable.  
Nov 30, 2013 9:04AM
I don't see how moving a broad is any different from moving a man. Sexists.
Nov 22, 2013 12:35PM
We have run a not for profit field school in Panama for over 15 years and banking has changed a lot in that time.  We have had an account with the national bank all this time but now they are changing their regulations.  They insist that our director establish a resident visa in order to keep the bank account.  But they are charging $1000 per year to get a resident visa on top of tons of paperwork. 

The bank's ATM is not reliable, either.  We found several instances where the ATM went through the motions but didn't disburse any cash.  Our bank at home showed the money was disbursed and charged their usual total of $9 in fees for each transaction.  They claimed that it was "impossible" for an ATM to make this kind of error.  The Panamanian bank insisted that the ATM wasn't theirs even though it was in their lobby.  It took months of investigation to get reimbursed for some of the withdrawals that were not actually disbursed.  You have to watch them every minute.
Nov 30, 2013 7:58AM
They forgot to tell you to not buy any real estate, just rent for at least a year until you are sure you want to live there.  Beware of housing scams and paying gringo prices.
Nov 30, 2013 3:05PM
Who in the hell would want to come back to the U.S.?
Nov 30, 2013 9:12AM

Lived in Europe in my 20's and loved it. Now in my 60's and would think twice about it. Life is fun and interesting when you are young and healthy, but what about a good doctor and hospital who speaks English? The conveniences we have in America cannot be beat.  Granted, we have problems here, but I believe we still have a lot of freedoms that other countries do not have. If I were young again, I would travel and live abroad. Good luck to all you adventurers. 'Go for it, do it and enjoy your life.  

Nov 22, 2013 1:23PM

Many of our jobs are being sent overseas so why not the people?

Nov 30, 2013 2:50PM
I lived overseas for 11 years. I had both great and terrible experiences. The best advice I can give is this: FIT IN. Don't act like an American, don't dress like one, always try to be polite, and be weary of scam artists. My wife is a foreigner, she loves the U.S. 
Nov 30, 2013 1:26PM
Look at number 6, the Internal Revenue Service.  Make it simple.  Just give them every penny you make and you won't owe them much more.   And, then look at number 8, the credit score.  I told my banker just yesterday in reference to a loan "don't even mention to me a credit score.  I don't care what it is.  You look at it if you want to.  That is fine.  But, don't even mention it to me."  If we all refused to deal with a business that looks at credit scores, I think we would be better off.  My daddy borrowed money on his word.  He paid it back.  I pay my loans and currently, for the first time in 30 years, do not owe the bank anything.  If I need to borrow more money, I will borrow it without credit score discussion.  I will shop around and get the best rate possible.  Screw Equifax and the others!!!
Nov 30, 2013 3:06PM

Most of this information is very adequately covered by International Living and their spokespersons.  They have been invaluable in helping me to plan for a possible relocation to Central America in the not too distant future.  Of course my plans could change due to circumstances beyond my control.  I am no longer a spring chicken and my elderly mother may live much longer than I expect so I may simply get too old to consider relocation.  However I am holding onto that dream.


Some countries such as Ecuador and Panama use the U.S. dollar as their primary currency or interchangeably with their local currency so that is not a problem for me.  Also many American banks have branches in these countries so it is not necessary to completely disconnect from the security of the American banking system if you prefer not to.  Also political stability is increasing in many of the Central and South American countries to the point that they are almost as stable as here at home.  This is particularly true in the last 15 to 20 years.  I am seeing signs of some serious unrest right in my own back yard here in the heartland and it unnerves me sometimes.


Also many articles make a big deal about crime in some foreign countries but if you look closely at the statistics you are often safer in some of these countries than you would be in Detroit, Chicago, New York, or Los Angeles.  I would much rather put up with some petty thievery over being shot dead on my own front porch any day.  In some cases these countries are where we were in the post war years and their economies are booming so it presents opportunities for young people with drive and energy as well as retirees like me.  So overall moving overseas is not as terrifying as some try to portray it.


This article offers some good advice but still manages to sound a bit skeptical about such a move so I wonder just how much time the author spent investigating it. International Living was contacted but they have a wealth of information and resources available to perspective ex-patriots that solve a lot of would be concerns.  So I would suggest that anyone thinking of such a life style change take the time to do some research on their own and not take these kinds of articles a face value. Reap that which is of value and discard the rest and combine it with information from other sources before you make up your mind.


My next big step will be to plan and take a two week vacation in my chosen location and to meet with some ex-patriots in that area if possible.  Usually the reality is more easily shared in a face to face meeting and you get a more accurate picture of the actual experience.  Then of course there is the invaluable experience of actually seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling, and tasting your perspective new environment.  I eagerly await this next phase in my planned adventure. 

Nov 30, 2013 11:19AM
 Why is America a stuffed corrupt pig waiting to be pricked?
Nov 22, 2013 10:36AM
And this differs from money moves for not living abroad?
Dec 4, 2013 8:08AM
We seriously considered a move to Ecuador and did tons of research. I'm 68 and retired for 10 years and my wife is 58 and still working. Our moving plans involved her retiring at her age, something we could not handle financially here. We ultimately decided against it for a variety of reasons, but it remains one of those fantasies I wish we could have done. Not too many adventures left in my life and that would have been a great one ... I did live in Panama City for 18 months with the Air Force and loved it, but I was 21 and living in a bug-infested apartment was a great story to tell when I returned, not a dream come true. One night my wife and I went out to dinner and a movie; we came back about four hours later and noticed a footwide black stripe up the side of our 4-story building leading to our apartment door on the top floor ... true story, the stripe was ants!! One or two had found our cat's dinner bowl and called their friends ... that footwide stripe went under our front door and into the apartment. Amazed they didn't eat the cat too ... boiling water solved that problem, but it's just an example of what can await you in a place unlike anything you're used to as an American. Good luck if you make a move ...
Dec 4, 2013 1:38PM
I moved to Panama, sight unseen, two years ago at the age of 78. My husband died a year and a half before. After his death, I was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, a blood cancer. After a trip to Tijuana for some 'real' treatment, I moved to the Western province of Panama, Chiriqui. I have no idea where Sandy Toes lives, but it doesn't sound like the Panama that I'm living in. I applied almost immediately for the visa, commonly referred to as 'the pensionado'. It didn't cost nearly $1000 and it is a one time charge, not yearly.  I found a good bank , and have had only one problem. I used another bank to withdraw money from a savings account in a Credit Union in the US. After calling the US bank, it took three days to get the money, that was not disbursed. The high fees for withdrawal are on the US side. The banks I have used in Panama have all charged $3.00. I came here for the experience of living in a better place. If I had wanted to seek out the gringos, why move? Outside of my church family,  the majority of my friends are Panamanian or the native Indians. I have never met such kind and loving people. The intercity buses have a prayer for your safe travel and many of the drivers have religious objects hanging from the rear view mirrors. Try that on a public  bus in the US. One of them had a placard that said " My Pastor is Jehovah". My heart was really warmed by the use of God's name, which is common here. I have a 2 br 2 bath house, with a 23 foot living room, large bedrooms, a large yard with lots of fruit trees , that I pay $150 a month for. Electric runs about $10.00 and water is a flat $3.00. A tank of gas, BBQ size for cooking ,is just over $5.00. I have a person who cleans my house once a week for $10.00, but I pay her $20.00. Even though I'm far from rich, I care for my 'new family' and always pay them more than the average rate. Not being at all fluent in Spanish, I anticipated  problems when I went shopping. There have been few. Either someone who speaks English comes to help or with 'Charades' and my little Spanish and a few words that they know, I can almost always get what I'm looking for. I have never been criticized for not knowing  Spanish, unlike non English speakers in the US. Several of the locals call me daily to make sure that I'm ok. There is no such thing as a paradise, but I love this Country and it's sweet [ not all, of course, but most ] people. I've never experienced the level of caring in the US, and I've lived many places there. What's not to like? Unless you are expecting to find another US here.
Nov 30, 2013 3:18PM
Really doesn't mattter, if you own a business that travels, or the last 5 years have left you any money, it's time to bail, no point in staying here and helping to fund handouts for the dem bloodsuckers, while they finish the destruction of the USA
Nov 30, 2013 10:00AM
Keep control of your finances and transfer your monthly expense amount to your local bank in your country of residence. Keep only a small reserve in your local bank until you obtain Permanent Residency. You don't need to leave money in a foreign bank if decide to leave a country. Another 15 months and I'll be eligible for Permanent Status. Then I'll feel more comfortable in putting more eggs in a foreign basket.
Dec 4, 2013 10:48AM

I have a personal policy of not traveling to or relocating to any place the people of that Country migrate or relocate to USA in mass numbers. To me that means there is something wrong in the place they are leaving and flocking here for what ever the reason.

Dec 4, 2013 11:15AM
I first studied and then expatriated to Spain in the 1980s.  I still have my research and regularly check off how many countries recommended then (and some on this list) that have nationalized bank accounts and gone 100% communist.  Why move?  The U.S.S.A. will be there by 2016.  urkel signed an executive order the first week of October giving himself authority to nationalize everything you own. 
Dec 4, 2013 12:29PM

The US, a great place to make your fortune but not necessarily the place to spend it..

Dec 4, 2013 1:39PM
It is funny that all of these Latin American countries are safer now that their poor and also their criminals have illegally emigrated to the U.S. just by walking over the border.  Since the U.S. won't expel them, their home countries are much safer than they used to be.  The one thing I have noticed is that when Americans' travel abroad or when the first move abroad, they tend to think that they have special privileges as Americans or that the laws are fair or just.  This is not the case.  They have no Constituion, and people should not expect the State Department of the U.S. to intervene in their legal troubles.  If you are unjustly accused of a crime, you do not have rights.  If they decide to take your property away, you do not have rights.  If there is a change of government, you can lose everything.  If you have children, you may not even have the rights to your own children.  Fairness is not an issue outside the U.S., it often comes down to the person with the most money or power.
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