Moving to a new country is always a time-consuming and often exasperating exercise. It may take months before your affairs are finally in order and years before you can feel ‘settled’ as a new immigrant. There are many things you’ll have to sort out such as finding a place to live, finding a school for the kids, finding employment, new friends, a club to continue your hobby, a car… the list goes on and on.
I get it; it’s challenging and daunting. However, one of the most important aspects to your new life that is overlooked or postponed are your financial affairs. Of course, getting a bank account ASAP is unavoidable, but there are other essential financial services you’ll need to seek as soon as you arrive and others that can wait though you’ll likely need at some point down the track. Below are five of the most important and they all require some research before a provider is chosen.
1. Pension scheme
In NZ it’s called Kiwisaver, in Australia it’s called superannuation and in the UK, it’s just called ‘the pension.’ When you land in your new country, and especially if you find a job quickly, you’ll need to choose a pension scheme. Almost all western countries require you to find a provider or you’ll be entered into one by default by your new employer. It is often not prudent to allow an HR team to make that decision on your behalf as pension scheme returns can vary greatly by provider. Also, If you have a pension scheme in the country of your former home, you’ll often be able to move that fund across. Consequently, soon after emigrating, spend some time comparing pension scheme fund returns and reviews and then set up your account
Health insurance, car insurance, home and contents insurance. You can’t afford to take any risks in your new country, especially if your national health service or national injury scheme does not kick in straight away after you land. In any case, public schemes often do not include critical coverage for various treatments. Health insurance is by far the most important though fortunately it’s very easy to compare policies. Canstar (NZ and Oz) is a great independent website that compares all the main insurers: https://www.canstarblue.co.nz/banking-insurance/health-insurance.
3. Credit provider
It may seem a slightly peculiar that it’s important to borrow money even if you don’t need it, but it is necessary. It’s because you will need a credit score at some point and you need to show that you have a history of being able to meet repayments. The easiest way to do this is to obtain a credit card. Personal loans are less flexible and more complicated. A credit score will save you thousands of dollars over the life of loan if you need to get a house or a car as it will enable you to obtain a lower rate of interest. A good credit score can also allow you to obtain lower insurance premiums, cheaper internet and phone contracts and access to advantageous financial deals.
One of the most important decisions that you will make as a new immigrant small business owner is the selection of an accountant and tax advisor. It is can also be one of the most intimidating decisions because it’s so hard to select one. This is a relationship that extends beyond just bookkeeping and will provide guidance and advice as your financial welfare requirements grow. There are many, many important reasons to find accountancy advice as a new immigrant but the most important is to understand your tax residency status.
5. Money Remittance
If you’re moving countries, at some point you’re going to need to send money overseas, either back to your home country to pay off a loan or to your new home country to set up your new life. The most prudent way to do this is to avoid expensive banks or cash remitters such as Western Union. Consider using companies such as Orbitremit to do the currency exchange and transfer for an extremely low cost. The convenience of OrbitRemit being online and performing the transaction within 24 hours adds to its appeal. Check out it’s other benefits here: https://www.orbitremit.com/benefits
Josh Brown, Financial Writer