For some, living abroad isn’t always about hanging out at the beach all day, eating and drinking interesting foods and exploring a new culture. Many expats decide to move to a different country because of their job, and for them, it’s all about business and moving up a rung or two on the career ladder.
So, it can come as a surprise that some of the hoops they need to jump through seem more like a punishment than a reward for good work. Here are the top five annoyances that U.S. expats often cite when speaking about their living arrangements outside of the 50 states:
#1 – Pre-conceived notions about Americans
Even if they have never visited the United States, many people around the world have formed their own opinion of U.S. citizens, and expect Americans they meet to fit these stereotypes. This can make it more challenging for American employees to fit in and work with others in their new location.
#2 – Expats taxes
Many expats expect that once they leave America, they’ll no longer have to file U.S. taxes, so they are often caught off guard when they discover that their tax obligations to Uncle Sam don’t change when their country of residence does.
Yes, it’s true that U.S. law requires American citizens over a certain income threshold living abroad to file taxes, but there’s good news too: Thanks to income caps, tax credits and other tax relief programs, the vast majority of expats do not end up owning any taxes to the United States. But they still have to file to claim these benefits.
Always consult a tax professional who specializes in taxes for expats, as a number of factors come into play when fling your taxes as an expat, including dependent children, rental income, retirement status, currencies, and more.
#3 – Swimming in paperwork
No matter where Americans live, they can’t seem to escape the red tape from government officials. In addition to taxes, expats are required to file other documents (such as reporting foreign accounts by filing an FBAR) and in addition, agreements with many countries require reporting of foreign bank accounts as they are opened. The bureaucracy is often an attempt to curb illegal activity, but to average law-abiding citizens; it is bureaucracy plain and simple.
#4 – Comforts of home
No matter how long you have lived abroad, sometimes you just want to eat a Mexican, buy familiar groceries, watch American sports, or see other familiar sights from home. It can be hard adjusting to life outside of the States, and if can feel lonely if you’ve left family behind.
#5 – Public transport
Not only is it difficult moving everything you own from one country to another, some Americans are not used to public transportation, and they can find it challenging to get around once they arrive at their new home base.