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Expat money guide

Your guide to help you manage your finances

Managing your money

Finding accommodation. Organising healthcare plans. Sorting out schools. There’s a lot to think about when moving to another country. One of the most important things you need to do is make sure your finances are in order.

One of the biggest expat challenges is that you have financial commitments in both your home and host country. This means juggling finances in different currencies, moving money between countries, having more money to manage, and dealing with a more complex tax situation.

Our Expat bank account gives you the flexibility to manage your money while you're living or working abroad.


Having the right banking arrangements is a key part of expat life. Your money should be easy to access and transfer between countries. Financial security is also important, so choose a reputable bank that complies with international regulations and has a solid capital base.

Most expats have a bank account in their home country and a local account in their host country. You should also consider opening an offshore account, as this can be the most effective way to save, invest and manage your money while you're abroad.

Before you move

It's best to have your new banking arrangements in place before you move, as local banks usually require a credit history and proof of address, which you're unlikely to have before you arrive.

To avoid the difficulties of opening an account in a new country, you can open an offshore account before you leave home. This will give you easy access to your money when you arrive.

If you use a bank with a global network, they may be able to open a local account and transfer your credit history - so everything is ready for you on the day you step off the plane.

Expat banking

Many expats choose to open an offshore bank account. Offshore banking simply means you have a bank account in a location outside the country you're living in. This location is usually a low-tax jurisdiction that offers economic and political stability.

Having an offshore account gives you the opportunity to keep your money in a central location, and allows you to stay with the same bank, wherever life as an expat takes you. It also makes it easier for you to access your finances and move money around the world.

For some expats, one reason to open an offshore account is because it gives them a tax-efficient way to save and invest, but these potential tax benefits very much depend on your circumstances. It is your responsibility to disclose your income to any relevant tax authorities and you should consider taking independent tax advice if you are uncertain on your tax position.

Talk to the experts

Before making any decisions about your new banking arrangements, it's important to get advice from someone with experience in expat finances. The sheer variety of banking services targeted at expats can seem daunting, but a good financial adviser – or a bank that specialises in expat accounts – can help you make the right choices. You can find more information in the financial planning services in HSBC Expat.

Moving money

Most expats need to transfer money between different currencies and make international payments, so it’s important to understand how foreign exchange works and how it's affected by fluctuating exchange rates.

When you’re juggling financial commitments in multiple currencies, remember that the currency markets can move very quickly, resulting in wide variations in the buying power of your money.

To help you reduce the risk associated with currency fluctuations, it’s worth considering foreign exchange solutions that let you fix an exchange rate for a period of time. By fixing the rate, you know exactly how much you’ll need to convert, whatever happens to the markets in the meantime.

Family finances

Adjusting quickly to a new way of life is particularly important for expat families. As any parent knows, bringing up children isn't cheap. As well as keeping them entertained, you want to give them the best start in life. And that means giving them a good education along with plenty of opportunities to develop their talents and interests.


When you move to a new country, a change in the cost of living can have a big impact on your finances. If you’re moving with your job, your employer may help with expenses such as accommodation or school fees, but relocation experts say these perks have been cut back in recent years as a result of the economic downturn. It’s therefore vital that you take all your new living costs into account. And don’t forget that setup costs, such as buying a car and new furniture, can take a big chunk out of your relocation budget.

Financial planning

Expat life can be very busy, but it’s worth setting aside some time to look at how your money could be working harder for you. You may find yourself with more disposable income after you move – all the more reason to make financial planning a priority. Our guides to investing can help you plan for the future.

When it comes to saving or investing for things such as school fees or retirement, your expat status brings new opportunities that weren’t available to you back home. Many expats choose to include offshore savings accounts and investments in their plans. These can be a tax efficient way to grow your wealth while you’re abroad. And you don’t have to move your money if you relocate to a different country.

Please remember, though, that while banking offshore may have potential tax benefits for you, tax rules differ from country to country. If you are unsure about your personal tax obligations, you should seek professional advice. It is your responsibility to disclose your income to the tax authorities. Our expat tax guides and resources can help you navigate the complexities of international tax.

Making life easier for expats

Starting a new life abroad has its complexities - but your finances shouldn't be one of them.
Choosing to live abroad has the power to enrich your life. It can be a journey that leads to new experiences and opportunities. HSBC Expat can help you manage your finances and make planning for the future simple.

Top tips

See what people responding to our Expat Explorer Survey said.

Make banking arrangements that you can use in both countries and in both currencies.
Make sure you know what your take home pay will be and your monthly expenses before deciding to relocate.

All Expat Explorer survey data and all tips (in quotation marks) are provided by HSBC.

This information does not constitute legal or financial advice and no liability is accepted to recipients acting independently on its contents. The views expressed are subject to change.

You might also be interested in


Opening an offshore account, can be an effective way to save, invest and manage money while abroad.


Steps to build a better financial future abroad.


Read our 10-step guide to moving abroad to make sure you've got everything covered.

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