Keep costs in mind when moving abroad

This was originally published on Monday, May 05, 2014, in the Pacific Daily News.  Click here to subscribe to the PDN.

Question: I have recently been offered a job. I am excited to start, but it is in a foreign country. It’s a wonderful opportunity but I’m overwhelmed and could use some financial advice on moving to a foreign county.

Answer: Congratulations on your new job! Living abroad is an excellent chance to experience different adventures and to learn about new cultures. I can understand how overwhelmed you must be. There is a lot to consider and to prepare before you move.

Moving costs

Moving is costly and even more when you move to a different country. Understand your employment contract. Are relocation costs included in your contract or are you totally responsible? Will your employer pay for housing? If you are moving your family, consider the possible loss of an income if your spouse works. Before you pack up, create a moving budget and include temporary lodging, travel, shipping, food, local transportation and other expenses and fees.

Cost of living

Depending on what country you move to, be prepared for a change in your cost of living. If the cost of living is lower, you may enjoy an upgrade in lifestyle. You may be able to live better than you do now for a fraction of the price. If the cost of living is higher, be prepared to live with less spending money than you do now. Once you get settled, create a budget to include the essentials such as rent, groceries, utilities, fuel, car payments or transportation costs such as subway or taxi, insurance and healthcare. Don’t forget to include entertainment, which includes eating out, shopping and maybe even sightseeing.

Important documents

Before leaving, gather all your important documents. Ensure that you have these documents prior to leaving because obtaining original copies can be difficult and expensive from abroad. You should have the original document and make several copies. Many agencies will want to see the original and then make copies. You can always provide them your copy so that your original document does not fall into the wrong hands. Such documents include:

• Birth, death, marriage or divorce certificates.

• Proof of citizenship: Your best proof of citizenship is your passport. Keep your passports updated.

• Divorce/custody papers: If you share joint custody of your child you may need documentation allowing the child to leave the country from the other parent.

• Police checks: Some employers may require that you have a local police check. Depending on your job they may even require a Federal Bureau of Investigation check. Employers may even request fingerprints. If possible, keep a copy of the documents.

• Education qualifications: Keep several copies of your school transcripts. Keep some sealed in case you have the opportunity to apply for other jobs. If you are moving with kids, get a copy of their report cards and any other educational documents.

• Health/dental records: If you will be living abroad you will need to take these with you to continue your health-care routine. It is very difficult to explain your whole health history. This should include medication and eyeglass prescriptions, x-rays, immunization records and any specialist treatments. Some clinics will not allow you to take the originals but will charge you a fee to make copies.

Consider scanning these documents and copying them to a DVD and hand-carry them when you move.

Michael Camacho is president and chief executive officer of Personal Finance Center. He has more than 20 years of experience in retail banking and at financial institutions in Guam and Hawaii. If there is a topic you’d like Michael to cover, please email him at moneymattersguam@yahoo.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at www.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.

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