You should contact your embassy

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Contact your embassy

Unless you are planning to disappear by falling off the face of the earth you should register with your country’s Government agency that handles foreign affairs for that country and their citizens.  We have provided links to these for the United States, Canada and Great Britain below.

United States State Department Traveler Enrollment Program

Canadian government Travel and Tourism

British government Travel Advice

These are a great place to start, but it is more important to contact your embassy and or consulate to the country you plan to move to as well.  If possible do it before you arrive, but do it during your first week of residency in your new country at the latest.   You can find your country’s US Embassy by clicking here , its British Embassy by clicking here, and its Canadian Embassy by clicking here.

Finally register with a consular warden preferably the one closest to you. A consular warden works with the local embassy and consulate to assist citizens in their times of need, and to provide notification of local events that could affect the safety of the expatriate citizens living abroad.

Your local consulate or embassy can provide you with the name, email and telephone contact of the warden living closest to you.  Please take the half a day or less to help your embassy help you in an emergency.


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Residency Visa, Will my Mastercard Work?

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Permanent Resident Visa

Humor aside, before you can live legally in most foreign countries you have to secure a permanent resident visa.  Several locations to begin your investigation are a specific country oriented Facebook group such as  Expats in Panama or Gringo Expats in Costa Rica where you can ask questions and get a flavor about the lives of people who live in the country you are investigating.

I have seen many people refer potential newcomers to immigration attorneys they recommend in these two and other expat oriented Facebook groups.  Although is becoming less and less popular they also have groups devoted to people living in a specific country and you may well find good advice there also.

Finally a simple search for the name of the country you are investigating + immigration attorney  will yield many results.  Of the methods mentioned  we favor researching  country specific Facebook Expat groups.

What to Look for When Choosing Your Immigration Attorney

immigration attorneys
Find a great immigration attorney

Several factors are important to consider when choosing your immigration attorney.  Unless you are bilingual and know legal vocabulary in your new country’s native language, you want a bilingual immigration attorney.

Compare costs between several recommended attorneys while most are reasonable a few think being an attorney means legal robbery.

Inquire about their experience in the field of immigration and ask for a list of references you can contact.

Customer service, how rapidly do they answer your questions or attend to your needs.  Inquire what their service being quoted encompasses, and have them put that in writing.

Will you need an additional work permit, will you have to pay for other visas for family members, will you have to renew the visa and if so how often and how difficult is the renewal process.

These are all questions your immigration attorney should answer in writing before you hire them  Having the right attorney represent you during immigration will greatly simplify the process.


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Cha Ching Cha Ching How to Get Your Bling

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International Money Transfers Online

Without a doubt one of the first things you will need to do in your new home is get money from your previous home country.  The easiest way to do this is to set up a wire transfer from the bank that has your money to the bank that you will be using locally.   Many banks require you to visit one of their offices to establish this overseas wire transfer but after an in branch authorization you can make international money transfers online.

There is typically a fee charged by both banks that can add up to $100

Money is the bling that is king
Money is the bling that is king

USD or more so these transfers are best suited for larger amounts of money.  A huge benefit of this electronic transfer is the money is available in a couple of days.

International  Money Transfers the old fashioned way.

Surprisingly most banks worldwide will accept a check drawn on a U.S bank for deposit.  Whereas electronic international money transfers are the email of moving money abroad, depositing a foreign check in your local bank is not even snail mail, its speed is closer to the old pony express that used horses to move mail across the USA  in the 1800s.

The timeliness of access to your money requires advanced planning because three weeks to a month before the funds are available is not unusual.   The cost of this transfer is specific to each bank, but we have used BAC and Banco General, both of which have branches throughout Latin America and they both charge $25 USD per deposit, regardless of how many individual checks make up the deposit.

Cash Machines aka ATMS

These provide local currency on demand but between the local bank and the bank at home fees can add up to close to $10 USD per withdrawal. Withdrawals are typically limited to $500 USD per day so the cost of using these can add up quickly.  Two banks, Charles Schwab and Citibank mitigate this.  Schwab reimburses all ATM fees and Citibank allows  no fee withdrawals at all of its branches worldwide regardless of which country  your account was opened in.

Private Money Transfer Services

Two words, – last resort!  These are very expensive and should be avoided if possible.

US Tax Reporting Requirements.

US Tax law requires annual hard copy declaration of foreign bank holdings $10,000 USD at any time during the year.  There are two required, the first is the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act or FATCA and the second is Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR).

Due to their complexity and high non compliance penalties most US Expats simply refer to them both as FUBAR!  The tip here is if you can  avoid it, never have $10,000 USD in foreign bank accounts.  The laws and their reporting requirements  apply to all foreign accounts combined together, not each account individually.

Day to Day Living Financial Strategies

Each strategy here is designed to legally avoid US IRS reporting discussed above.  The first step is to prepare a budget for regular monthly out of pocket cash expenses.

Transfer several months cash expenses to your local bank plus a rainy day emergency fund because you will need it.  The most inexpensive way to do this is to deposit a check a month before you need the funds, in an emergency use an ATM.   Use a credit card issued by your home country to pay every possible local expense including groceries, cable and cell phone bills and use your home country bank account electronic billpay to pay the credit card on a timely basis.

The second strategy is to see if your monthly income can be deposited directly into your local bank account.  The US Social Security Administration has direct deposit agreements with banks around the world.

If you have any suggestions, ideas and or questions please leave a comment below.

Should I learn the language?

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students learning a foreign languageThe research is complete and the preparation is set to begin.  Now you ask yourself  why should I learn another language?

Every person who moves abroad has most likely asked themselves that same question and most have received the opinion of others as to why you should learn a foreign language.  Advice can be helpful but to answer why should I learn another language it is best to depend on your own independent research.

First it is most important to have a clear idea of how you want to live in your new country.  Do you want to live in area that is largely expatriate and associate with others who already speak your native language.  In these areas, and there are there are many communities like this, you will  depend on those who are bilingual to assist you with doctor appointments, plumbers and most services you will need.  Alternatively do you want to be able to go shopping, see a dentist or make reservations without depending on other people to do it for you?

Second are you willing to invest your money, time and energy in order to learn another language?  To most the case is clear, life is fuller and much more independent when you do learn the local language.

At this point the next question is how to learn a new language?

There are many ways to answer how to learn a foreign language including self study courses. online schools, classrooms and private tutors.

Please visit our Reviews page to learn more about foreign language courses.




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