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U.S.Expats

The State Department estimated in 2011 that the number of US citizens not affiliated with the US Government who are residents abroad, is close to 6.32 million.  If you’re thinking of working or moving overseas, there are a number of practical considerations to take into account.


Visa

U. S citizens generally don’t need a visa to visit countries in the European Union for up to 90 days.  But if you plan to stay longer or work, a visa will be required.
 
Health
While a warmer climate may be better for your health, the cost of health care can be significant, especially in North America.  Most U.S. private insurance companies and Medicare generally don't cover medical costs in another country.    

Having health insurance is often a condition of being granted a visa. It also pays to be aware of the rules and regulations for individual countries – for example, regulations in Spain mean that some expats taking early retirement there have been blocked from free medical treatment.

Property taxes
When buying a new home overseas, check the cost of tax and legal fees which can often add 6-10 per cent to the purchase price. There are also ongoing taxes which vary depending on the region.

For instance in Spain, property tax in Huelva comes top at 1.16 per cent, more than twice that of Albacete, the lowest at 0.4 per cent.

The tax may differ for residents too. For example, taking Italian residency means you’ll pay 3 per cent purchase tax and lower ongoing property taxes, but second home owners pay 9 per cent when buying and higher ongoing taxes, according to Italian agency Ultissimo.

Income Taxes
You'll need to know whether you will pay income taxes in both countries and whether there are any tax treaties that allow you to avoid double taxation.

Capital Gains Tax
You will likely have to pay capital gains tax on any profit you’ve made when you sell your home both in the resident country and your home country.  

Pension/Social Security  
Check with the Social Security office and your former employer to determine whether payments can be deposited into a local bank account.

Foreign exchange
Not only will you need to change a lump sum into your new local currency, but you may need to transfer money regularly between the two countries, perhaps for education fees or a pension. Foreign currency brokers charge lower fees and offer better exchange rates than using your US bank.

Cost of living
Look into the cost of living before deciding in which country to settle. Although property prices abroad are often cheaper than in the US, day-to-day living may be the same or more expensive, especially if you are always looking for your favorite foods from home. Check out the cost of food, petrol, entertainment and energy.

Accessibility
You may wish to return to your home county occasionally and family and friends will like to visit you. Look at the accessibility and cost of doing so.

Inheritance rules
If you are sinking most of your savings into a property abroad, check the inheritance laws. Speak to an international lawyer to make sure you can leave your assets to your family as you wish and find out about inheritance tax.

Language
If you are going to a country in which yours is not the first or official language you should consider whether you intend to learn the language and if not, you should ensure that your language is widely spoken otherwise it will be very difficult to socialize, go to the doctor or deal with estate agents and legal representatives.