There is much to be said about being able to live the expatriate life. Spending years abroad providing expertise in your industry, being provided with perks that only expatriates can understand… this is clearly the life that most can become accustomed to. If you are a new expatriate and have just settled into your new home and your new work environment, as you work to understand local cultures and norms as well as enjoy local delights and explore secret treasures that you would not be able to see even as a tourist, it is time to get back to ground level for a little while, to talk about banking.
Banking on being an expatriate
One of the best inventions since the banks themsel
ves is online banking. This provides a platform that allows us all access to our funds without having to queue, park or travel further than our computer screens. For expatriates, this is advantageous as you are able to access funds from anywhere in the world at your finger tips and there is no need to write checks for mortgage and bill payments well in advance in order to ensure that you avoid whatever penalties may be imposed for late payment.
However as an international traveler and one who lives abroad, the reality is that your bank account is probably in one country while you are in another, and if you have the misfortune of losing your bank card or misplacing your banking access, you could be financially inconvenienced with no easy solution. With online banking the risk is that your accounts may be hacked or phishing activities may occur and while every bank takes care to prevent this, as an expatriate; you are at greater risk and should consider local options.
The local alternative
It has become the norm among the expatriate community to set up local bank accounts in the country of residence. This is justified on the basis that regardless of the country of origin, you will need access to your funds for daily living, for investment and for savings. If you are inclined to leave everything in your original onshore account wherever in the world that is, this is fine but for better international access to cash and to a variety of great financial services and investment opportunities, you may want to seriously consider setting up a local bank account.
If you decide to go in this direction, take some care in selecting the banking provider. If your onshore account has a branch locally this will of course make things easier as it will be possible for you to open a connecting account. However if that is not the case, then you will need to explore your local options. Ideally you should consider banking with an international bank rather than a local one in the first instance, simply because as an expatriate, you will need some flexibility as circumstances may change; contracts may be terminated, international travel may be required, or you may even be required to transfer to yet another time zone. By setting up an account in an international bank, it will be much easier to facilitate any such changes and this will allow you the versatility and flexibility that should be the privilege of a world traveler.