Ask Money

Planning on living abroad

Chris Farrell Nov 27, 2009

Question: My wife and I might eventually move abroad, for a couple of years, maybe for good (to Europe?). Should we install our retirement funds and other investments as if we intend to live the rest of our lives in the US? For instance, do we need to think about fluctuations in currency exchange (in case the $ drops against the currency of our future home country?). Your opinion would mean a lot to us, thanks a lot in advance. Thomas, Burlington, VT

Answer: If you can pull it off, living overseas is a great experience. It’s a good dream, and fun to think about. However, it seems to me you haven’t picked out where and when you might pack up, either temporarily or permanently. So, I wouldn’t worry about currency fluctuations now and I would continue to save for your retirement.

My main financial advice is to save more than the average family. You’ll want to salt away money in safe, taxable accounts that you can access easily. The reason is that you might need an extra cash cushion to fund a smooth transition to living abroad. I’m sure you’re doing this, but I would also spend time researching companies and programs that will give you a job and income abroad. That’s another way of reducing the costs and risks of your adventure.

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