Moving overseas and becoming an expat comes with a multitude of hassles and worries. From learning how to tip properly to finding a new apartment, the process can be stressful. It’s hard to know who to trust and where to find the right answers, especially when it comes to decisions about money.
Since 2017, I’ve been answering these questions – big and small – for expats moving to the US at America Josh. By far one of the most-asked topics is how to safely transfer large and small amounts of money from a different country. While most aspects of daily life can be answered by a quick Google search or asking someone on the street, anything that concerns money lands you in a world of confusing and misleading information seemingly without any safety net. It’s for that reason that I worked hard to find a partner I can trust.
So why do people transfer money internationally? I asked our community of expats about the top five reasons that they use OFX to transfer money and here’s what I found.
Large transfers for adventures abroad
Like many America Josh community members, I was very lucky that my move to the US was an exciting adventure for the sheer sake of attempting something new and different. Not many people have this opportunity, so I wanted to make sure I took a moment at every stage to do things properly.
When I first thought about transferring money all those years ago I just assumed that my bank would be the most efficient method to get money across and that was that. I made the (now in hindsight) shocking mistake to send a significant amount of startup money directly through my bank which offered “no fees” but forgot to mention that a poor rate meant I was effectively wasting a good part of my savings.
I had this exact problem too, it felt like my money was evaporating for no good reason!
In the first few months of a planned move abroad, you need quick access to money because the opportunities are few and far between. If you get offered a chance to go somewhere or do something you want to be able to quickly say “yes” and start to build out your community, make friends, and see exciting new things.
Don’t miss out, plan ahead, and get your money in the right spot before someone offers you an adventure.
Transferring money to set up a life in a new country
Once the travel bug has left your system, it’s now time for some of the most important decisions you’re going to make, which include settling down and potentially bigger purchases. These include things like your rental setup, memberships, licenses, accreditation, furniture, food and the costs involved with actually living in a new city.
This will be a significant amount of money and no easy feat, so don’t skip out on the research and find the best rate available.
They’ve always been easy to use and have great rates. I have used it several times for various amounts between $1,000 and $10,000.
– Sharon P.
Our community relies on good quality information and the best possible rate, so when it comes to a dollar comparison there hasn’t been any other method that even comes close in my experience. You’re going to want to transfer the bulk of your money to a reliable bank in your new country ideally in one batch so that you’re not stuck with piecemeal transfers coming in over the course of days and weeks.
Make a budget, write out what’s required, and then add 20-30% on top to make sure you’ve accounted for the inevitable additions you didn’t expect.
Sending money home to support family members
I was somewhat overwhelmed with how many of our community members sent money abroad to support their family members in their home countries. It was delightful to hear stories like these ones:
I moved to the US to chase some exciting opportunities that paid much better than I could find at home – so I’m in a very lucky position to be able to send money back to my family and help them out where I can
For many, living abroad isn’t always about following a sense of adventure or wandering overseas without a clear goal; for many it’s about opportunities that are stepping stones in their lives and careers. This means that while they might be able to experience new locations, their family at home who relied on them are still reliant on support; especially financially.
Being able to safely and securely send back as much money as possible means that you feel good about supporting those people who supported you, and know that they won’t be left in the lurch if something goes wrong.
Paying off home-country debts (like university and college education bills)
If you’ve studied in the last 20 years, you’re likely finishing college or university with a reasonably sized debt to your name. While this is to be expected, what many don’t know is that there’s an obligation to keep paying these debts even when you live overseas.
So if you have to be paying off debts in another country, then you don’t want to be throwing away dollar after dollar to a bad exchange rate or to fees that you could have avoided. Even more importantly, you don’t want your hard earned money to go missing or be delayed for risk that you get stung with a late fee when it doesn’t arrive on time.
I use OFX because transfers are quick and support is always available.
Having a plan for making transfers in advance and being able to schedule alerts for when rates are especially good means that you won’t be sacrificing at any point in your planned repayments.
Investing in their future and buying a home
Here’s the big one that not everyone will be able to do right away but hopefully one day if it’s an item on your vision board: Buying a home. Buying a home is stressful. It’s stressful if you’ve got the money in your hand, and it’s much more stressful if you’ve got the money on a computer screen linked to a bank in another country.
Honestly, the reason I recommend OFX so much, more than all of the above reasons, is because they’re willing to sit on the phone and virtually hold your hand while you make life-changing transfers and can confirm what you’re doing is right every step of the way.
American Josh reader has used OFX about half a dozen times of the past 7 years for larger transactions including inheritance money and a car purchase.
The OFX app is extremely user friendly and anytime I have needed to speak with a team member at OFX, they have promptly answered my call and are extremely patient and friendly! Their customer service is incredible and I have always received the best rate and service I could hope for!
If you’ve saved your whole life to buy a home, then the last thing you want to see is the money leave one account and not immediately show up in another place. It’s a gut-wrenching moment, but having someone connected close by and ready to confirm what you’re doing is right, your mind is at ease and you’re no longer at the whims of the world wide web.
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