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Moving abroad can be both an exciting and daunting experience. The fact that you are exploring new places and cultures makes it exhilarating, but the fact that you are leaving your friends and extended family behind to start a new life elsewhere can be terrifying. However, starting off on the right foot is the only way to ensure you enjoy a good experience as a U.S. expatriate.
Some expats forget about their home obligations, and you don't want to be one of them. Ensure you stay in touch with what is happening at home. As long as you still have your U.S. citizenship, there are some things you need to know as you live abroad.
As an expat, you need to understand the risks of living abroad without comprehensive health insurance coverage. You may experience limited healthcare access, and massive medical bills may weigh you down when you have health emergencies. It is essential to look into health insurance for U.S. citizens living overseas and see what options you have to get quality insurance. You can get affordable policies for premiums from as little as $80, depending on your coverage, age, and deductible (your new country will also offer affordable private insurance plans). All you need is to research and find the best coverage.
Regardless of where you live, you are obligated to pay U.S. income taxes as long as you are a U.S. citizen living abroad. Even if your tax burden is zero, you must file the returns with the IRS. Note that the United States taxes based on citizenship, which means that it taxes American citizens on their income despite where they live. Taxation is not affected by physical presence, and the source of income does not matter either. Therefore, you must comply with your taxes.As far as taxation in your new country is concerned, check to see if there's an agreement to prevent double taxation of income.
U.S. citizens living abroad with foreign financial assets that exceed $200,000 specifically for single filers and $400,000 for joint filers must report these assets annually on the FATCA form.
As a U.S. citizen, you must enter or leave the United States using your passport even if you have acquired another country's citizenship. You can renew your passport in the U.S. at your local post office or a U.S. consulate abroad. If you do not have a U.S. passport, you may need to prove your citizenship with a U.S. birth certificate, certificate of naturalization, or a consular report of birth abroad.
Getting a visa is usually a long process, so you need to plan early for that. Just like taxes, getting your visa early can save you a lot of last-minute headaches. Depending on your host country, they may require you to renew your visa periodically to remain valid. That means you have to travel home from time to time to renew it. Some countries may need your employer to verify you to stay in the host country legally. All in all, ensure you get your visa in advance to avoid last-minute inconveniences.
If you live in a country with certain rampant diseases, it is best to get vaccinated early. Consult with your doctor about the vaccines you need, including the travel-related vaccines and the routine shooter vaccines. While at it, consider how you will facilitate your Healthcare while even if you feel healthy. International health insurance for traveling abroad covers your health requirements such as medical checkups and prescription medicines while you are abroad.
Keep in mind that whatever happens in the United States affects all of its citizens regardless of where they live. So you need to keep up to date with U.S. affairs because state or Federal governments may make changes that directly affect you as an expat. You can read the foreign news on the Internet or watch live streams from your home tv station. Monitor local news to be at par with any local changes that affect you as an U.S. expat.
Depending on your host country, getting mail could be difficult. In such a case, it is crucial to establish an alternative mailing address in the United States to ensure your mail doesn't get lost. Many companies and services in your home require a mailing address, even if it is not your home address. A family member or a friend can be your official mail address while you are away and can help you whenever you need an immediate response.
When living abroad, it will likely be cheaper to purchase a local SIM card and load credit for your phone rather than paying often exorbitant fees for roaming services.
Whenever you come back to the U.S. for a visit, stock up on items you don't find (or are more expensive) in your host country and carry them along. These can include medicines, food products, clothing.
Finally, keep in mind that working and living abroad may seem challenging before getting used to it, but embracing your host country's local culture helps you fit in seamlessly and get comfortable quickly. Enjoy your new life as an expat!