This is one of those subjects we don’t think much about other than making sure we have enough money in the bank to make a move and live abroad once we have made that decision.
There are some issues that should be taken into consideration, however, as they can be pertinent to functioning outside of the U.S. I live in Ecuador which is a cash-based society.
A cash-based society
What that means is most day-to-day business transactions are done using cash. Not many businesses accept credit cards. Some companies such as utilities, cell phones, health insurance will direct bill to a checking account for monthly payments.
Ecuador uses the U.S. dollar as its currency which makes it much easier for U.S. expats since it is how we are accustomed to transacting our business.
Most countries outside the U.S. do not and there are exchange rates to take into consideration that can have an effect on the value of your spending dollar. It would be a good idea to Google the current exchange rates and also the history of those rates in any country you are considering as a retirement destination. Some U.S. banks will not allow a U.S. citizen to live outside of the country and maintain an open bank account in the U.S.
Research your bank’s policies
Some expats maintain a physical address in the States since they may transition back and forth from their retirement country. It is a good idea to find out the policies of the banks you do business with.
This brings to mind a service I have found to be extremely helpful as a retiree on a pension. There is a company that is affiliated with the Social Security Administration in the States called DirectExpress.com. They offer a service that allows your Social Security benefits to be deposited to a Mastercard account with a debit card attached.
The primary benefit of the card is that the account can be set up from wherever you live in almost every country and it is not attached to a U.S. bank account. The Social Security Administration is aware that I am living outside of the U.S. now and that address is listed on the Direct Express Account. You can use the card anywhere Mastercard is accepted and transfer your funds to other accounts.
They do charge an international fee of 3% for any cash withdrawals beyond the first one of each month. Because you will most likely be moving funds around and possibly opening new accounts in your retirement destination, it is one less issue to have to deal with in receiving your retirement benefits. You can do a change of address if necessary.
Please let us know your thoughts and as always… Bienvenidos!
by: Cathy McKay