My move date, May 14, is less than a week away. There seem to be a lot of little last minute things I've been taking care of lately. I just wanted to go over a few of the things I've done before my departure date to give those other expats out there a heads up.
Expat Auto Policy
I recently bought an international auto policy with USAA. For $5.00 per year, this policy covers me when I'm driving someone else's car or a rental car in the United States. However, it also has the benefit of providing continuous auto insurance coverage.
Having a lapse in your insurance coverage, for whatever reason, means that you get hammered on your rates when you buy a new policy. So, all those expats who may come back to the United States some day would do themselves a big favor by purchasing one of these expat policies. When you do return to the US, you'll be able to show continuous auto coverage and you'll get a good price on your policy.
Bank Wire Transfers
I made sure to sign a wire transfer agreement with my local bank, which allows me to call in to a phone system and initiate a wire transfer by phone. This is very important, since wire transfers are one of best ways to move your money abroad. Most banks want to see you show up to the branch in-person to make a wire transfer, so it is a good idea to find out what documents you must sign to be able to make these transfers by phone or fax.
Depending on your visa, you may also be required transfer money to an Argentina bank via wire transfer each month (I am legally required to do this). That's why its important to make sure you get things squared away with your bank before you leave. You don't want to hear them tell you, "You need to come into the branch to make a wire transfer," when you're 6000 miles away.
Getting Stuff To Read
English-language books are not easy to find in Buenos Aires. I recently bought about 6 months worth of books I'd like to read and shipped them down to Buenos Aires. Here's a hint, ask your post office for the "International Book Rate". You pay just $1.00 per pound shipped. It takes 6-8 weeks to arrive, but it means you pay $20 for shipping a big box of books rather than $100.
Shipping Your Clothes
If you have more clothes than will fit in your suitcases, you may want to ship some clothes ahead of you. Luckily, this is very easy to do. Since the seasons are reversed, you can ship all your winter stuff right now. I already packed up all my winter clothes and the only stuff I have left is my summer clothes that I'll wear this last week. All my winter clothing will be waiting for me there in Buenos Aires.
As an aside, I wonder whether the guy at customs who goes through my bags will get a laugh at all the summer clothes I've packed. He'll probably be thinking, "Stupid American... he has no idea that its winter here right now."
Sell, Sell, Sell!
If you've decided to sell most of your belongings, now is the time to really finish up. If you've been reading for a while, you'll know that I decided to sell all my belongings rather than ship them. Well, the 1-week mark is here and anything that hasn't sold now probably won't be sold at all.
- I had a furniture consignment store come and pick-up all the furniture I wasn't able to sell on my own.
- My old collections of books, DVDs, CDs, video games, etc that I wasn't able to sell just got boxed up and taken over to the local used bookstore.
- Old clothes first went to the used clothing store and everything that wasn't purchased there then got sent to Goodwill.
Note: Even if you'll be getting your expatriate tax exemption, you can still use donations to lower your taxes! The expat tax exemption only covers earned income, not things like bank interest, dividends from stock, profits from a business, etc. You can still use charitable donations to offset this.
- Sold my old camera, digital camcorder, MP3 player, and other electronics and upgraded to the new models now. Once in Argentina, it'll be a lot more expensive to upgrade to new models of electronics.
Broke My Cell Phone Contracts
Both my girlfriend and myself have cell phones with those nasty 2-year contracts that have cancellation fees. However, there's a clause in the contract that says if you're moving out of the service area, you can break the contract. Well, Argentina is certainly out of the service area. I faxed over proof of our move to both cell phone companies and they let us out of the contracts without those nasty cancellation fees.
Said Goodbye To Friends And Family
I made sure to go visit all my friends and family nearby and say goodbye. I also invited everybody to come and visit me anytime in Buenos Aires. It was kind of an odd feeling, saying goodbye to people. I think that after saying goodbye, the realization finally hit my family that yes, this is for real, he really is moving abroad.
Labels: Transition Phase