Work Abroad but earn in USD

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Staying Connected While You're Abroad

Just because you're moving abroad doesn't mean that you can't maintain connections back home. In fact, with the power of the Internet, most people might not even know that you've left! Today, I'm going to provide my enthusiastic recommendation for some service providers that no expat should be without.

PayTrust

The PayTrust service allows you to issue payments (both by check and ACH) to anyone inside the USA. Even when you expatriate, there will still be bills you have to pay inside the US -- credit cards, loans, taxes, life insurance your accountant, etc. If you're a small business owner, this is even more valuable. In addition to my personal bills, I pay about 20 business bills each month to various service providers in the US.

With PayTrust, I can log-in, see my account balance from my bank, and issue payments to anyone in the United States. How is this different than your online bill pay with your bank? PayTrust actually gives you a PO Box that you redirect all your bills to. Your bills are scanned in and displayed online for you to view. They keep an archive of all your bills as well, allow you to create reports and keep things organized. Your online bill pay will usually not allow you to make tax payments, but with PayTrust you can make tax payments no problem.

I've found this service to be a godsend, especially with all the traveling I do. Even though I will cut down on a lot of US bills after expatriating, there will still be plenty of people in the US that I owe money to. PayTrust will be the way I pay them. The cost is reasonable at $12.95 for personal accounts and $19.95 for business accounts.

Paperless PO Box

Similar to PayTrust, Paperless PO Box gives you a PO Box address in the US. They scan all your incoming mail and then send you a copy via e-mail. If you're going to be getting mail from the US that you don't need a physical copy of, this is a great service. I use it to receive my bank & brokerage statements, signed contracts from customers, and even letters from family and friends (I'm sure you all have that grandmother who still refuses to use e-mail).

I don't like the idea of having my financial papers and other things sent overseas, so this is a great service for me. The scanning of mail is all automatic by document feeders, so there's no person there reading your mail. If you ever do need an actual physical piece of mail sent there, Paperless PO Box can send it to you by FedEx. They keep your originals for 90 days and then destroy them if you don't request them to be sent back to you. They also keep a backup digital copy of your mail that you can retrieve by logging in -- just in case an e-mail doesn't go through.

The cost of the service is $29.95 per month. If you have online bill pay with your bank, you could forgo the PayTrust service, have all your bills sent to your Paperless PO Box and then pay the bills through your bank.

The UPS Store

I keep a mailbox at the local UPS Store, which allows me to receive packages and any other mail. I have mail sent here that I actually need a physical copy of -- packages, replacement credit cards, applications or contracts where I need to physically sign the original copy. You'll find that there are a large number of retailers and online stores that refuse to ship goods outside the country. If you still want to shop online and buy goods from the US, this is an excellent choice.

The UPS Store can receive all your important mail and packages, and then re-mail it to your address in Argentina.

eFax

While these other three services give you addresses within the United States, eFax will give you a fax number in the US. Faxes received at this number are automatically sent to you over e-mail. This is an extremely valuable service, allowing you to retrieve your faxes anywhere. Not only does the service free you from owning a fax machine, it also costs less than the monthly service fee you'd pay to have a fax line.

There's more, though! You can also send faxes using this service over e-mail. Just e-mail your document to a special e-mail address and eFax will transmit your document to any fax machine in the world. You'll get a confirmation e-mail letting you know whether it went through successfully or not, so you don't have to guess whether the recipient got your fax or not.

Vonage

Vonage is a Voice Over IP (VOIP) phone service. It gives you a US telephone number that rings to a phone box they provide you with. Just plug any ordinary phone into the box and you get US dialtone anywhere in the world. Although not "officialy" supported outside the country, you can plug the box into any Internet connection -- including a DSL or cable modem in Argentina. It works. Give this US phone number to your family and friends back in the US and they'll be able to dial you up just like any other US number. You'll also be able to call US numbers without paying international rates as well, since your call is routed over the Internet and doesn't go through the phone network.

Vonage only works over broadband (DSL or cable) connections and it doesn't work well if you're browsing or downloading at the same time. So, if you get a phone call, make sure to stop using the Internet while you're on the call or the phone quality will be very poor.

Google E-Mail

E-mail is the ultimate communication tool for expatriates. No matter where you are in the world, you can get access to e-mail. Google Mail is recommended because its a simple web-based interface, no huge banner ads to suck up screen space or bandwidth, great spam protection, and is currently offering over 2 GB of storage space -- all free. Why's this so great? You can pop-in to an Internet Café anywhere in the world and have access to all your e-mail ever sent or received. Two gigabytes is a ton of space.

In addition, if you utilize these other services -- Paperless PO Box, eFax, etc, you'll have a lot of big attachments going to your e-mail. You need to know that you'll have enough space to store all this stuff. Without the need to actually throw stuff out, you'll have access to all your mail and faxes as well -- a great resource no matter where you happen to be in the world.

One thing that Buenos Aires is not short of is Internet Cafés. You'll find them everywhere. Every block. You'll never be far away from your e-mail in Buenos Aires.

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7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dude, your blog rocks....

It looks like your serious.

Why did you choose Argentina over Chile? Just curious....

4/17/2005 02:45:00 AM  
Blogger elizabeth said...

IP phone should'nt effect your basic internet connection. I only notice a meaningful difference in the phone quality if I am streaming radio, the kids are playing online games and my husband is online too...it doesnt use up that much bandwith.

5/03/2005 10:39:00 PM  
Blogger apartmentsba.com said...

Many of the sites/services you mentioned I'm already using. I went through the EXACT same process as you last year. Those things you mentioned are really wonderful and I couldn't survive without them.

I would add to the list signing up for internet banks like www.bankdirect.com www.netbank.com and www.everbank.com

Bankdirect and Netbank allow you to withdraw the equivalent of u$s 500 per DAY. Here in Argentina, many ATM's restrict you to withdraw 500 PESOS a day. With the two I mentioned, you can withdraw up to 1,420 pesos a day (under the current exchange rate of 2.88).

Hope this helps.

Mike

5/12/2005 11:35:00 PM  
Blogger johnny said...

I am researching your old posts for info as I move towards relocation. I am going to be receiving weekly Fedex shipments essential to my work. I am not physically connected to a company in BA and these shipments will be coming to my apartment in BA. Is there a better way of doing this ? Are there "mailbox stores" in BA to avoid the shipment directly to my apartment ? Any other ideas ?
Thanks again for your help !

11/26/2005 08:50:00 PM  
Anonymous Candy-O said...

I've been using a terrific service to receive my postal mail on-line: cityvoffice.com. Rather than share a PO Box, they provided me with a Manhattan address where I also receive FedEx and UPS deliveries. As each envelope comes in they scan the outside and put the image on their web page which looks like an email application. I can then ask them shred it (in the case of junk mail), scan the contents so I can see it on-line or have them forward it to me if it's of a sensitive nature. They also do all the standard mail forwarding stuff which lets me receive packages and get eBay deliveries.

I've been happy as a clam with their "starter" subscription for $19.95 a month. Since I've been moving from country to country it's been a blessing.

9/16/2006 04:39:00 PM  
Blogger Veena said...

Yes staying abroad doesn’t mean u cannot maintain connection back home!!! I m in constant touch with my Parents in Argentina..through skype.As I can make calls at just $0.032..that's pretty cheap isn't it? I I can speak to them through my laptop also and now i m planning for a webcam to see them and make myself and my parents feel that we are just sitting in one room and not miles awayyy..

5/08/2007 10:29:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your info. I lived in BA for 5 years and I'm going back to visit in Feb. Was wondering if I buy a Vonage box for inlaws who live there,if it will work when they want to call us here in the US?

1/04/2008 07:29:00 PM  

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