Living and working abroad isn’t exactly a walk in the park.
After all, living the life of a US expat requires that you learn the language of the new country, adapt to its culture, and more.
It’s worth pointing out, however, that the challenges you’ll face aren’t something you can’t overcome.
You just need to find the right strategies and learn the ins and outs of relocating overseas. Things like finding the best place to live in, the country’s tax laws, and how to build relationships with the locals.
In this guide, I’m going to share with you some practical tips to help you succeed as a US expat.
Let’s get right to it.
1. Learn the local language. (As much as you can)
Although you’re not required to fluently speak the language of the country you’re moving to, learning to communicate in the native tongue can be a handy skill for you.
When you can converse in the local language, you’ll have more independence, and building connections with people will be easier for you.
Plus, when you speak the local language, you can navigate more complex situations better – especially for instances where you need to depend on your home base country’s residents for guidance.
For instance, when you can communicate effectively with your local employers, getting the necessary documents for filing your expat tax returns will be more efficient.
To start, you can enroll in language training programs through online learning platforms like Coursera.
You can take a look at the syllabus, course outline, schedule, and other details to see if the course fits your needs.
Being able to speak the local language will also help you form connections with your coworkers and other people within your new community.
Learning the local lingo will require an investment of your time and a heavy dose of determination and discipline, but it’s an excellent way to adapt more quickly to the new culture and form relationships – allowing you to feel more like you’re part of the community.
2. Know the documents US expats need to file and submit.
Even if you’re an American who’s living abroad, you will still need to file and pay your taxes because the US taxation system taxes on citizenship and not based on your residency.
If you are earning income abroad or receive specific types of credit, then you are required to file your US expat taxes.
Also, if your worldwide income goes beyond the filing threshold – depending on your filing status – you’ll need to file your US federal tax return annually.
This means you’ll need to know all the documents you need to prepare and secure by the time the tax filing for US expats deadline comes around.Tax filing can be a complicated process, and if you’re not thorough in your preparation, you could miss out on a few details that can have some serious implications – such as missing deadlines that will lead you to accumulate interest and possible penalties.
One of the best ways to avoid this is by working with tax preparation services like ExpatTaxProfessionals. The service can help you with your tax preparation needs, including the necessary forms and schedules you need to submit for filing your US expat taxes.
The screenshot below shows some of the required forms.
The service can also help you with late filing. Plus, you get to work with tax specialists with years of experience, so you get the assistance you need every step of your filing process.
By understanding the documents you need to secure, and working with tax preparation services, filing your US expat taxes easier and less stressful for you.
3. Work with reliable employers that can aid in your transition.
Your employer can play a crucial role in your success as a US expat because the company you work for can make or break your initial experience working abroad.
Remember that working overseas will require you to make big adjustments, so finding an employer that can help you navigate through all the changes is vital to your overall well-being as a foreign worker.
At the onset, try to negotiate to help you ensure that you get a good relocation package and aim for compensation that can cover your new cost of living.
Here are a few questions you can ask when you consider working with an employer for your overseas employment.
- Will I get assistance in obtaining my visa?
- Is there relocation support available, such as in the form of a temporary housing stipend?
- Are the costs of packing and shipping my belongings covered by the company?
- Do I get assistance in selling or settling my current home?
- If applicable, will job search aid be provided for my spouse or significant other?
Aside from getting the answers from these questions, you might also want to consider going with a company that will aid you in understanding local taxes, laws, and leasing arrangements.
When you work with the right employer, finding success as a US expat won’t be impossible.
4. Build a support network.
Being away from your home and your family and friends can take a toll on your mental, emotional, and even physical well-being.
Plus, when you’re in an unfamiliar environment, you’ll need to learn a lot of new things and adapt to all the changes – which can stress you out.
This makes having a network of people who can understand what it’s like for you to be a US expat or at least offer you some comfort vital to your time living abroad.
After all, being able to build a community and finding a sense of belongingness in a new country will not only help you adjust, but it can also help you be in a better state.
You can start by looking online and joining groups for US expats.
For example, you can go on Facebook and look for, let’s say, expat groups for people living in Milan, Italy.
By joining online groups, you get to ask questions about life as a US expat, learn about the experiences of other expats, and maybe even get a few insider tips on blending in with the locals.
Once you settle into your new life, you can start branching to the local community or start with your coworkers, your neighbor, or the owner of the coffee shop you frequent.
Your overall well-being is essential to your success as a US expat, so find support online or in the real world and build connections and personal relationships.
It’s not going to be all rainbows and butterflies when you’re living overseas, but with these tips, finding success as a US expat can be achievable for you.
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