When I was a teenager, my family moved from my home country of South Africa to the United States. While some teens might have hated the idea of leaving their home for a new country, I loved the idea of exploring a new part of the world – and that love has followed me throughout my career.
Both of my parents have made international moves in their adult lives, and I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them both navigate this process and build wonderful new lives in their new home countries.
These experiences have shaped not only me as a traveler, but also my career as a financial planner. In addition to my advisory certifications, I am a designated Global Financial Planner (GFP®) with a specialty in U.S.-Australia cross-border planning.
People often wonder what sets international financial planning apart from other types of financial planning. Here’s a run-down of what a GFP® is and how we use this unique skill set at Clarity Wealth Development to help our clients navigate international waters.
What is a Global Financial Planner?
A GFP® isn’t just an advisor who loves to travel (although I’m guilty of that, too). It is a designation given to advisors who have received specialized training through the Global Financial Planning Institute (GFPI) to help people navigate financial situations no matter where in the world they go.
If you spend a large portion of your time outside of the U.S. or are planning to make an international move, a GFP® is a great asset to have on your financial planning team.
How Can a Global Financial Planner Help You When You’re Moving?
Once you know where you want to put down new roots, it’s important to connect with an experienced international financial planner. They can help you prepare your finances before, during and after your voyage across the border.
Here are a few of the international financial planning questions a GFP® can help you answer:
1. Should you buy or rent a new home?
If you’re moving permanently, buying might make the most sense. A temporary move of a year or two is almost definitely a situation where renting would be best. It’s those in-between stays that can be hard to determine what to do.
A GFP® can help you weigh the pros and cons of buying vs. renting in your new home country and how both options fit within your larger financial plan.
2. What should you do with your assets?
If you choose to invest while abroad, be aware that you could trigger Passive Foreign Investment Company (PFIC) rules. This occurs when you hold certain investments abroad as a U.S. tax resident.
A GFP® can help guide you through the process of choosing what to do with your current assets, and decide whether investing in a foreign market is the right option for you.
3. How will you maintain an income?
Will you work in your new country? The answer to this question has important tax implications and will determine what type of visa you will need to get. If the answer is yes, you will need to flesh out a few details.
If you’re moving to Australia and planning to work for an Australian company, then you’ll need a different kind of visa than if you’re moving down under but planning to work for a US-based employer.
4. How will your children adjust during this move?
The American school calendar operates differently than other countries in that we start in the fall and end in the spring. Many schools overseas – including Australia – follow the calendar year, beginning in January and ending in December.
Consider timing your move with the beginning of the school year to help ease the transition for your school-aged children.
If your children are nearing college age, then you might have a few different considerations. Where will they be attending school? How will your residency impact their potential acceptance and financial aid?
5. How can you maintain relationships during an international move?
From your family members to work teammates, a change in time zones can make maintaining relationships tricky. Luckily, it’s been done before.
A GFP can share their personal and professional advice to help you navigate the rocky road toward your new normal.
6. Should you bank in your new country?
Some countries require you to establish residencies before opening a new bank account. In other cases, your passport is the golden ticket – it really depends on the country.
It’s also worth noting that exchange rates come into play here. In addition to varying costs of living, the dollars you’re spending might be worth more or less than the U.S buck you’re used to.
7. How will this move affect your retirement plans?
Some countries have tax treaties that make retirement saving easier and address the specifics of taxation, while others are more ambiguous. But if you leave your retirement investments in the U.S., you may have more trouble accessing or making changes to those accounts.
Whether you keep your long-term savings in the U.S. or move them abroad will depend on a number of factors unique to your situation.
8. How will you file your taxes?
When you move to a new country, you’ll likely have to file taxes in both the U.S. and your new digs. There are a number of unique reporting requirements (and high penalties) if you get your expat tax return wrong, so do your due diligence come tax season.
9. Should you pursue dual citizenship?
Dual citizenship is an attractive prospect. You get to move freely between your home country and your new country. You and your children can enjoy full rights in both countries, which could mean anything from the right to vote to free college and health care, depending on where you’re moving.
On the other hand, dual citizenship also comes with several tax implications that you’ll need to discuss with a financial advisor.
10. What about life insurance?
The cost of term life insurance tends to be lower in the US than elsewhere, especially Australia. The death benefit is usually tax free, which can be especially beneficial for US persons.
Wherever and whenever you plan to move abroad, a GFP can help you stay proactive in the process and keep your finances in order.
Find Your Next Adventure with Clarity
With a resident expert in international moves, Clarity has all the tools you need to financially prepare for your new home. Click here to connect with a Clarity team member today.