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8 Things U.S. Expats Should Know



8 Things U.S. Expats Should Know

Being an expat is indeed enjoyable but can sometimes prove troublesome, especially if you’ve forgotten about the taxes and credit card limits. That’s why there are a number of things to keep in mind when abroad so that you can be ready for any eventuality. Let’s go through some of the most important ones.


1. Keep Copies of Important Papers

Remember the paperwork you were required to produce when applying for your visa? Keep their copies close to you. You never know when any of these important documents may be called for or for what purpose, so it’s better to stay on the safe side.

In addition, it is always a good idea to provide a family member of a close friend back home with the copies. You never know what may happen. You may lose an important paper and be unable to achieve a copy while abroad.


2. Keep Your Bank in the Know

Your bank should be informed that you’ll be living abroad as many times as needed until the message hits home. In any case, it is always advised that you keep a stash of money because banks can never be fully trusted, no matter the circumstances.

In addition, it is crucial that you obtain a credit/debit card with no foreign transaction fees. While many expats tend to overlook this issue initially, they soon come to realize that fees of 2% to 5% per transaction are a rip-off. Do some research if uncertain about your options. There is always a solution, so take your time choosing the best card for you. Much depends on the country you’re relocating to, so be sure to check out their financial practices.


3. Don’t Forget the Taxes

Remember that in this world, nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes. U.S. expats should think about three types of taxes:

  • Taxes of the country they’re residing in
  • U.S. state taxes
  • U.S. federal taxes

It is always recommended to use professional services where applicable. Depending on the country of your residence, these can be rather cheap. Also, foreign country taxes can often be problematic, as expats rarely know all the perplexities residents do, so make sure to inform yourself about the taxes to come and hire professional help for the best results.


4. Did You Forget to Cancel Your Subscriptions?

When moving abroad, there are so many important things to keep in mind that canceling subscriptions and memberships often end up being forgotten. Sure, everyone remembers to cancel phone plans and rental agreements, but the myriad of other small joys is easily overlooked.

A gym membership, for example, is likely to pop up some time after you’ve relocated, so if you forgot to cancel it in a timely manner, do it once you get a reminder.

On the same note, make a point of buying a local SIM card, rather than using the expensive roaming services of a U.S. provider.


5. Communicate with Your “Backup” Family and Friends

It is always a good idea to rely on someone back home. From mail forwarding to paperwork, you never know what you may need in the future while abroad. That’s why it’s important to keep communication strong, and for that purpose, you may choose one of numerous tools or apps.

Many expats host online hangouts with their friends and family in the U.S. With the ongoing pandemic, the idea has become regular even for people who normally shun such occasions, so if you have elderly parents in the U.S. who aren’t tech-savvy, things may have become easier in the meantime.


6. Should You Cancel Your Insurance Policy?

This is one of the more difficult questions for many expats, chiefly because handing a resignation means letting go of health insurance. However, since many people have backup insurance plans, this may not be an issue for everyone.

What is important to calculate, however, is whether your premiums are worth paying while you’re away. Similarly, how are you going to make payments (think in terms of taxes and transaction fees)? Also, the majority of foreign countries require that you have coverage there before even issuing a visa. Certainly, this makes sense, seeing as your U.S.-based insurance company is unlikely to pay your medical bills in a foreign country, which begs the question of why you’d need a U.S. insurance policy when you have to pay premiums in your country of residence.

As ever, such complex questions don’t have a simple answer, neither is one solution optimal for everyone. Do your calculations before making the final decision and talk to an insurance company representative should anything prove unclear.


7. Do You Miss Your Favorite Snacks?

We’ve seen many times that expats coming back home for holidays tend to stock up on their favorite products. Wherever in the wide world you’re residing, it’s only normal to not expect that local brands will be easy to come by.

Because it would be rather weird to buy your favorite U.S. products online and then pay stellar sums for shipping, make a list of things that you miss. When you go back home, buy sufficient quantities to last for as long as they can.

This doesn’t apply to food exclusively. Many expats prefer U.S. electronics or clothing to foreign counterparts, so include everything on your list and go shopping once you’re back in the U.S.


8. Expats With Pets

Pet owners may have a difficult time while abroad, starting with pet import rules, but not necessarily ending there. Namely, there are a number of things to consider, including but not limited to vet costs and pet-sitting costs. Especially if you travel to the U.S. regularly, you may find it difficult to choose the best option for your pet.

Cat owners, for example, know how difficult it is to move their fluffs around, so a pet-sitting option may prove better. However, choosing a reliable pet sitting service may be challenging for both the pet and you (leaving your house key to an unknown person, for example), and there are also additional costs to consider.



An expats life may be thrilling and adventurous, but many people get homesick for various reasons. As you can see, there is a slew of things to be kept in mind, so one can never be too careful. Whatever comes to mind, just write it down. And don’t forget that to-do list when traveling back home for the holidays!

Angela Ash is a professional content writer and editor, with a myriad of experience in all forms of content management, SEO, proofreading, outreach, and social media. She currently works with a boutique agency that offers in-depth SEO analysis, custom SEO strategies, and implementation.