This was originally published on Monday, May 12, 2014, in the Pacific Daily News. Click here to subscribe to the PDN.
Moving overseas for a new job can be rewarding. Experiencing a different way of life comes with challenges. There are many items to take into consideration from your normal comforts of home to living under new laws and customs.
• Amenities: We often take for granted our Western style of living. We have grown accustomed to large bedrooms, closets, bathrooms and kitchens. In many countries the living quarters are just that, a place to sleep with just the necessities.
Although homes in foreign countries are becoming more Westernized they usually come at a price. Be prepared to downsize. You may not be able fit all of your possessions into your new living quarters. Check if the electrical system is compatible to the United States. If you need a converter, it may be wise not to take your TV, computer, or other electrical equipment.
• Banking: Before moving, notify your financial institutions about your upcoming relocation. When you move you may want to consider opening up a bank account at a local financial institution. Ask your employer how you will be paid; will it be in U.S. dollars or the local currency? There may be fees when converting between the two currencies. Inquire with your current bank if your ATM card will work in that country. Your bank may be able to recommend a bank overseas.
There also may be laws that may limit how much money can be transferred between the two accounts that are in two different countries. Your personal checks may not be valid abroad, be sure you have several ways to be able to access your money until you open a new account.
• Passport and visas: Your passport is one of the most important documents you will need with you. It is best not to let your passport lapse within six months of your move. If your passport expires while you are living abroad, find the nearest U.S. embassy that issued your passport, and renew it immediately. Obtain your passport well before the move; expediting fees are expensive. For more information about United States passports visit www.travel.state.gov. Most countries will require you to have a visa to work and live there. Your employer should inform you if a visa is needed. Most countries charge a fee to obtain a visa.
• Immunizations: To prevent the spreading of diseases and viruses some countries will require you to get vaccinated before entering the country. They may also require certain blood tests. Because some of these tests and vaccinations may be time sensitive or require multiple trips to the clinic, give yourself several months to obtain them. Your employer should be able to help with the needed health requirements. You may also go to the World Health Organization webpage, www.who.int, for more information.
• Driving permits/driver’s license: In most countries it is illegal to drive without a driver’s license or insurance. Most countries will accept an International Driving Permit (IDP). IDPs must accompany a valid driver’s license. Check with the embassy of the country to find specific information. Usually, your auto insurance will not cover you abroad.
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 email@example.com and read past columns at the Money Matters blog at www.moneymattersguam.wordpress.com.