Expats FAQ

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Q: What are the best types of debit cards or credit cards that can be used while living overseas?

A: Visa and MasterCard are still the best credit cards that are recognized everywhere a credit card is accepted. American Express comes in at a very distant third as it is really mostly used in the U.S.

Q: What are the most accessible banks that can be found in most countries in the world?

A: HSBC and Citibank are some of the most accessible banks that you can find almost anywhere in the world. Other banks with an international reach are BNP Paribas, Barclays and Standard Chartered.

Q: Are there international banks that can be linked to local banks in destination countries?

A: Almost all banks that offer offshore banking has this service. Banks like HSBC has an HSBC Expat program that allows you to link your international bank accounts to a local branch.


Q: What is the best industry for expat businesses abroad?

A: Web companies, IT companies and Business Process Outsourcing are the best business industries for expats.

Q: What kinds of visa are made available for expats who want to start a business abroad?

A: It depends on the host country's foreign business policies. There are countries that offer entrepreneurs visas for foreign business owners, and there are some countries who would require more requirements for foreigners who wish to own a business.

Q: What are the best countries for expat businessmen?

A: South East Asian countries such as Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam and The Philippines are good for expat businessmen. Latin American countries and China are also good places for foreign businessmen.


Q: What are the best activities for kids on the weekends while living abroad?

A: It's good to sign your kids up for classes during the summer break or try to take them to parks and historical places in your new host country. It's good to allow them to experience the local culture in your new host country but at the same time constantly remind them of your own family culture at home.

Q: Is it ok to teach kids the local language in a new host country?

A: Yes. It can be handy for your children to know more than one language at a young age. It will definitely give them an advantage for their future.

Q: Are Au Pair services available anywhere in the world?

A: Yes. There are many Au Pair services and even Au Pair companies all over the world, but it's always a better choice to choose an Au Pair that you actually know to take care of your kids.

Cost of living

Q: What countries have the lowest cost of living in the world?

A: The top 10 countries with the lowest cost of living in the world are India, Nepal, Pakistan, Tunisia, Algeria, Moldova, Egypt, Macedonia, Syria and Colombia.

Q: Should cost of living expenses be a part of a company expat package contract?

A: Some expat packages can cover transport and food allowances on top of an accommodation package, but aside from housing, it's not very common to have a cost of living allowance in an expat package.


Q: How do you stay healthy and keep a good diet while living abroad?

A: It is important to always watch what you eat no matter how limited the food choices are, there's always a healthier option. Try not to eat in fast foods even though that's the safe bet. Try local dishes that are healthier and better for you than fast food.

Q: What's the best cure for jet lag?

A: Sleep and water. You can try to cope with it, but the best way to fight jet lag is just to try to get as much sleep as you can in flight and drink lots of water in between.

Q: What kinds of vaccine should you get before living abroad?

A: It depends on the country that you're moving to. It’s always best to read about the health risks of the country before you move so you can be prepared with the types of common illness you may acquire in the country.


Q: Are serviced apartments good for single expats living in a new city?

A: For a short period of stay, yes. If you're looking to stay in the country for less than a year then a serviced apartment accommodation would be ideal, but if you're staying longer, then it will be better for you to find your own flat or house.

Q: What kind of accommodations are available for expats abroad?

A: There are several accommodations expats can choose from depending on their duration of stay and their lifestyle. You can get serviced apartments, flatshare, rentals or even buy your own property abroad.

Q: Should housing be a part of a company's expat relocation package?

A: Yes. Most expat company packages would have housing or accommodations set up or at least subsidized accommodations with your expat packages.


Q: What's the best way to beat homesickness while living abroad?

A: Keep busy. Try not to sit around and sulk. Find ways to keep yourself busy and explore the culture and scenery of your new home abroad.

Q: How can expats meet new people when they arrive in their new host country?

A: Expats usually meet other expats or groups through networking. There are several forums and groups online that you can join to meet new people and start making new friends while living overseas.

Q: What's the best way to experience local culture as an expat?

A: The best way to experience the local culture in your new host country is to not go to the tourist places or experiences. Try to follow what the locals do. It's better to assimilate a local mindset instead of a tourist one while you're living in your new host country.

Looking for a job

Q: Which countries have the most job opportunities for expats?

A: According to latest surveys, the best countries for expat job opportunities are Switzerland, Singapore, China, Germany, Bahrain, New Zealand, Thailand, Taiwan, India, Hong Kong and Canada.

Q: What is the most prominent expat job industry in the world?

A: The medical industry has always been a good expat job. Nurses, doctors, surgeons etc are much more in demand in some countries that others. Teaching, skilled work, engineering and the IT industry are also very prominent in terms of expat jobs abroad.

Q: What are the highest paid expat jobs in the world?

A: Medical professions and teaching professions abroad pay the most for expats.


Q: What's the best way to transfer money internationally when you're living overseas?

A: If you're an expat, who intends to live out of your home country for a while. The wisest choice is to get an offshore bank account that can be tied to a local account. Companies like HSBC, BNP and Lloyds Bank offer this type of service. These companies will allow money transfers between your local account to your account in your home country or any other parts of the world. Some banks have fees for these transactions and some don't. Check the availability of these banks in your host country to determine the best choice for your offshore account.

Q: What are the best ways to get a currency exchange for large sums of money abroad?

A: There are professional international currency converters that can help you transfer large sums of money in bulk to the currency of your choice and even help you move your money from account to another with a fixed exchange rate. Companies like Halo Financial, Currency Index and MoneyCorp can help you with these types of services. Compare their quotes to find the best company that will suit your requirements.

Q: How can pension funds be transferred to foreign accounts?

A: If you're from the UK, you can set up a QROPS pension transfer to help you manage your pension funds abroad. There are several companies like Windsor Pensions, Horizon Internation and Gerrards International that can help you set up these services.


Q: What are the best international moving companies today?

A: AGS, Crown Relocations and Allied Pickford are just a few among the best and biggest names in international moving today.

Q: What is the minimum standard volume needed to hire international moving companies?

A: The standard volume for international moving is 5 cubic meters.

Q: Would it be cheaper to add extra baggage on the plane or just to ship your items when you move to a new country?

A: It depends on how much you would want to move. If it’s just some movable items, then you can consider adding extra baggage, but if it's the entire household or part of your household, it's better to have it shipped.


Q: How much does a standard international pet shipping cost?

A: International pet shipping costs depends on the distance between your home country and your host country and also the requirements needed for pets to enter your host country. It can range from $1500-5000

Q: What are the kinds of visa that pets need when they move to other countries?

A: It depends on the pet entry rules in your new host country. Research the requirements or hire a professional pet relocation company to do the process for you.

Q: Do all countries impose quarantine upon entry of animals?

A: No, some countries do not require quarantine, but most major countries do.


Q: What is the type of curriculum that one should look for in an international schools?

A: The most internationally recognized curriculum is the International Baccalaureate.

Q: What is the school curriculum that is acknowledged anywhere in the world?

A: International Baccalaureate in primary, middle school and secondary school diploma is the most widely accepted curriculum.

Q: Is getting an MBA a good way to start an expat career overseas?

A: It could lead to better job opportunities through networking and experience.


Q: What are the best expat websites for shipping goods from your home country to your host country?

A: There are several expat groceries or delis that you can order from online such as expatsgrocery.com and expatfoodhall.com. These types of websites deliver your favorite items from home to your doorstep in your new host country.

Q: In terms of unusual sizes, would it be better to shop for clothes online and have it delivered or just have clothes altered?

A: It's always better to just buy clothes that actually fit rather than having them altered. You can buy a lot of clothes before you leave your home country or order online instead of having them altered.

Q: Would it be better to have your furniture shipped to your new host country than just buying new ones there?

A: It would depend on the distance between your home country and host country. Try asking for a quotation for an international move first and research the cost of furniture and appliances in your new home and check which one would be more ideal for you.


Q: What are the best ways to stay in touch with loved ones while living abroad?

A: Downloading IM communication apps such as Skype, Viber, Line, etc. is a good way to always stay in touch with your loved ones. Social media sites such as facebook, twitter, etc. are always a good way to keep yourself updated with the lives of your loved ones while you're overseas.

Q: Would it be better to get a prepaid phone or a postpaid line while you're living abroad?

A: If you're living as an expat for less than a year, then getting a postpaid plan may not be ideal. If you're in the country for a year or more, then check the postpaid plans that fit your lifestyle better.

Q: What are the most useful communications apps for expats overseas?

A: There are free apps you can download that can help you stay in touch with your loved ones. Skype is the most popular app for communication via live video chat. There are also several other IM apps available on your mobile phone, tablet and PC.


Q: How does one get an international driver's license?

A: International drivers license or IDP can allow you to drive in just over 100 countries depending on your home country's recognition, so it's not really quite as universal as you think it is. However, it is still quite handy for an expat to have. You can get an international driver's license in different government branches depending on your home country. In America, you can apply for it in the American Automobile Association or The National Automobile Club. In the U.K., you may apply for an international driver's license in the post office. In Australia, you can get it from The National Roads & Motorists' Association. Check your local government transport authorities to check where you can get an international driver's license in your home country.

Q: Is it always a safe bet to get a car rather than go by public transport when living abroad?

A: It all depends on your new host country. If you are moving to large countries like the U.S. or Australia, it is strongly advised to get a car for convenience unless you intend just to stay in one city or town. If you're moving to Asia, it is not very advisable to get your car. Cities like Tokyo, Singapore, and Hong Kong have very efficient public transport system that you can get by within the city without a private vehicle. Other major expat destinations in Asia like Bangkok, Manila or Hanoi do not have public transport as efficient as the major Asian cities, but the densely populated cities, narrow streets, and local culture also becomes big factors to not own a car. In these cities, you may consider a motorbike or a scooter instead. In Europe, most cities have efficient public transport so getting a car or going by public transport depends on your personal preference.

Q: Is it more of a hassle to ship your car to your new host country rather than buying a new car?

A: This depends on your host country and the distance between your home country and your host country. Some countries have expensive taxes on car shipping that may make it pricier for you to ship your car. You may get a quotation from a car shipping company to get the figures on how much it would cost to ship your car and research how much your ideal vehicle would cost in your new host country including all the fees you'd have to pay to drive in the country as an expat.


Q: Which companies offer the best frequent flyer miles promotions?

A: It really depends on how much you actually fly. Qatar Airways, Emirates and Singapore Airlines are considered as some of the best in terms of frequent flyer promotions.

Q: Is it good to have travel insurance even though you have international health insurance?

A: Yes, but usually international health insurance already covers most of your needs if you're an expat. Travel insurance can be handy if you intend to travel outside your host country on holidays.

Q: Do travel credit cards really give out good promotions when it comes to travel discounts?

A: Some companies do have very generous travel promotions such as Citibank and HSBC. But it's always best to check reviews and compare benefits when choosing travel credit cards.


Q: Is it useful to get a Visa processing service when applying for visas abroad rather than manual applications?

A: It is very helpful to get professional visa assistance for expat visa processing especially if you are moving with your entire family or if your passport has less strength in terms of visa requirements from your intended destination. Companies like VisaFirst will be able to assist you in processing your visa requirements as well as give you helpful advice on what documents you need to prepare or what type of visa you should apply for when you move to your new host country.

Q: How much do work visas or visitors visas cost in the major countries in the world?

A: The common expat visa in the UK is called the Representative of an overseas business visa and it costs £535. In the U.S. a common work visa costs US$190. In Australia, an employer sponsored migration costs A$3520, while a temporary work visa costs A$360. In Singapore, there are 2 types of work visas, the regular professional visa called an employment pass costs S$220 while an SPass for mid-level professionals costs S$140 both have specific amounts of salary eligibility to apply. In Hong Kong, the cost of the work visa depends on what your company applies for you, it can range from H$190 to H$ 215.

Q: What are the best kinds of visas for expats abroad?

A: The best kinds of visas for expats depends on the intended duration of stay and the country destination. If you're an expat who would like to migrate completely with your family then a permanent residency visa would be ideal for you and your family. But if you're a single expat who's looking to live and work in several countries then a regular work visa will do. Some countries offer entrepreneur visas and passes for foreigners who wish to start a business abroad.