Are you moving to the United States? Navigating an international relocation is certainly no simple task, especially if you’re moving for work and need to move by a certain deadline. Not to mention, balancing your work responsibilities alongside the complexities of an international move can be difficult to manage.
One aspect of international relocation, especially if you’re moving to the US, that many people forget to consider are the major financial differences. Of course, you’re likely to be transitioning to a new currency, but there are also significant costs and expenses you may need to consider when making a move to the US.
Here are five financial aspects you need to consider if you’re relocating to the US:
You will be required to pay a fee when applying for permanent residence
When applying for their visa, many expats are surprised to discover that not only are they required to pay a filing fee, but that this fee is upwards of $1,000. In fact, form I-485, which is an application to register permanent residence, carries a fee to the tune of $1,070 (including an $85 biometric fee). Even further, the application to apply for US citizenship, which permanent residents can do after five years of residency, is currently $680. Again, this includes the $85 biometric fee.
Your cost of living may change
It’s no surprise that the cost of living changes from one country to another, but many people are often surprised to learn that the cost of living in the United States is more expensive than in 75% of countries in the world. More specifically, it’s estimated the average monthly costs (excluding housing) for a family of four in the United States totals $4,509, whereas for a single person, the average is $2,589.
If you’re relocating to the US, you will want to take these factors into consideration, especially if your salary will be remaining the same. Basic essentials such as groceries, clothing, or transportation may be higher than you’re used to in your home country. It’s also important to note that cost of living can also differ from one city to another, or one state to another, so be sure to take this into consideration as well.
It may be more cost effective to own a home
For sake of convenience, many expats may consider renting a home or apartment when they first move to the United States, but considering that mortgage rates are currently experiencing all-time lows, it may be a wise financial decision to purchase a home of your own.
When you first land in the US, it may be helpful to start in a temporary housing accommodation, such as a hotel or Airbnb, while you search for a permanent home. This will give you time to decide on a neighborhood that you like the best, tour a few houses, get your financial information together, and partake in the mortgage preapproval process.
When you are ready to purchase a home, there are a few items that, as an expat, you may need to consider. Firstly, is mortgage eligibility. Different lenders may have different policies regarding what’s required, but all will need you to prove residency status. If you are a nonpermanent resident, you will have to show you have the likelihood of continued employment, as many have visas tied to their ability to work in the US.
As a new US resident, you may also be concerned that you don’t have the proper credit to purchase a house. However, if you’re relocating through your company for employment in the US, it may be possible to do a nontraditional credit check— you provide documentation based on your credit history in any country in which you’ve established credit.
You may need to account for healthcare expenses
A major adjustment expats face when moving to the US is the cost of healthcare. Although many countries offer universal healthcare, this is not the case in the US. Costs of healthcare are much higher in the United States than in other countries, and are paid for using one of the three following methods:
- Government programs (such as Medicare and Medicaid)
- Private health insurance plans (usually provided through an employer)
- Out of pocket (your own funds)
If you’re relocating for work, check with your employer before moving to the US to see if they offer health insurance in your benefits package. If so, you will likely want to register upon your arrival in the US, as paying for health insurance out of pocket can be extremely costly.
You will need to set up an American bank account
Upon moving to the US you will need to set up an American bank account, which will allow you to easily pay bills and receive your salary. In order to do so, you typically need to present proof of address, your passport, immigration documents, and your social security number.
You will probably also want to transfer funds from your old bank account into your American one. Be sure to shop around before doing so to see where you can get the best money transfer deal. In addition, keep an eye on exchange rates—you should try to make the transfer when the rates are the strongest in your favor.
Relocating to a new country can be a stressful process, especially when it comes to adjusting your finances. Be sure to use the above tips for a seamless transition, your budget will thank you for it!
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