3 Financial Difficulties Commonly Encountered by New Expats

The life of an Aussie expat knows many joys and struggles. There is all the excitement of living and working overseas.

Yet there’s also the feeling of homesickness and missing family and friends, even as you form new relationships abroad.

Beyond these issues, the world of global finance can produce a lot of challenges too.

From exchange rates, to transaction times, to even being able to even process a payment!

Yes, there are a lot of hurdles here, but they can be overcome.

Let’s look at 6 of the most common expat finance challenges, and how to avoid them.

1. Exchange rates

The world is fast becoming more digital and global but the distance of miles and kilometres haven’t changed. Neither the reality that transferring money from one country to another will always involve some more complexity – and as a result more cost – than a local transfer.
While this will remain a challenge, there are ways to reduce its impact on your finances.

Many expats who travel overseas don’t look around for the best exchange rates. This is understandable – whether living or traveling life overseas can be super busy! – but ultimately it can save you a lot of money to seek out the best value for exchange rates.

CBA exchange rates are always a really good starting point here, as the Commonwealth Bank is a known and trusted entity in Australia and around the world when it comes to providing secure and stable exchange rates. Find a good provider and you’ll avoid high exchange fees.

2. Transaction Processing Time

Sometimes there’s a need to process money fast. Back home there may be an unexpected bill, a family emergency, or even a late birthday present that you really need to chip in for. Wiring money overseas via a secure source will always see it arrive. The trouble is sometimes it comes too late.

There’s many variables here depending on where in the world an expat is, and how long it takes for a particular financial institution to process the transfer. Nonetheless, it usually takes at the minimum 1-2 business days for a transaction to occur. It’s also possible that time blows out if money is sent home on a Friday but the expat’s hometown bank isn’t open weekends. That 1-2 business days can quickly turn into 4 or 5 calendar days.

A good way to avoid this is anticipate this problem, and look to setup a shared account in Australia. It can be a joint account with a family member, or a trusted close friend. Because the account is in Australia – and you can login to your bank account anywhere – this ensures you can also have a sum of cash in local currency ready to use in Oz whenever the need arises.

3. Accepted Forms of Payment

Discovering you have a non-accepted form of payment overseas is never any fun. You either know this before you head overseas, or you find it out once you are overseas – and that experience can bring a world of pain. Your local credit card may be a winner when using it with Australian businesses, but it may get an unfriendly reception abroad.

Even when your card is accepted, it can often be subject to a bundle of nasty charges. Whether you are having a big luxurious night out, or just doing some simple grocery shopping, either way charges can really sting – and really add up overtime. That’s why having multiple cards when abroad is not an option, but an essential.

Sure you may find one card isn’t accepted when you travel, but two? Or three? Safe storage of these is important, but it should be a no brainer to sort out a couple more when traveling abroad for the long term.

Paying As You Go

As we’ve shown here these hurdles can be frustrating, and a little difficult at first to overcome. The good news is, once you have got them sorted you can usually use the same process for payment again and again. This is especially easy to do if you are living and work in the same city or country for a long period of time.

By contrast, it’s important to note the availability of a payment mode if your travelling. It may be really easy to make a payment when you’re visiting Great Britain, Ireland, or Western Europe. Yet once you move into Eastern Europe or Russia you may find it harder. Travel is fantastic so take every trip you can, but keep this in mind as you go.

Taking Flight

Living overseas can be wonderful and difficult at the same time. The same applies to the finances of an expat. If you find yourself weighed down by a world of financial frustration it’s sure to leave you peeved off, and longing to be back in Australia.

Given 92,000 Australians in 2016 alone departed Down Under to live permanently overseas, more and more Aussies will face annoying financial challenges globally. By recognising them here and now, you’ll know how to address them when they arise.

So, look to be proactive in tackling these problems, and you’ll be sure to make the very most of your time abroad.

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