Most expats in Asia enjoy an enviable lifestyle however there are things that can go wrong and sometimes these can have serious consequences. Over the years advising and helping expats with their financial planning we have heard our share of horror stories, as well as plenty little tips that make have made life better for people from all over the world living in Asia.
So, in the interest of sharing situations to be avoided and tips to make life better here is our list of ten things most expats in Asia don’t consider until it’s too late.
1. Check your own income tax responsibilities – it varies from country to country.
2. The import duty on personal possessions – to avoid nasty surprises before you start shipping your entire life overseas, find out how the importation of personal possessions is taxed.
3. Beware flooding – Asia is wet, so take out contents insurance against water damage, as well as to protect you against theft. The floods that ravaged Laos in 2011 are a perfect example of the large scale destruction that can be caused.
4. The work status of home help – maids and cleaners may not have host country nationality and may not be eligible to work, landing you with problems with the authorities.
5. Obtain a simple local medical insurance policy for your home help – so you do not have to pay for healthcare to alleviate a guilty conscience.
6. Get a local bank account and credit card. In some countries the local bank’s application can be used for utility bills and in most local shops. In Laos, being a BCEL One client allows you to pay for all utility bills directly from your phone.
7. Find out the driving licence requirements in your host country – some Asian countries require either a local licence or an international driving permit. Your home country driving licence may not be valid and could invalidate your car insurance; Laos being a case in point.
8. The rules for shipping your pet – failing to pay close attention to the rules and regulations on bringing a pet to your host country and missing a vital inoculation can mean having to fly them back home. Pets can also be subject to import duties.
9. Check your existing life insurance arrangements – policies taken out in your home country may be rendered invalid by your expatriate status. We have known cases of this causing extreme distress when it is discovered too late.
10. Remember to take time to enjoy the expatriate experience – use your time to explore Asia and its rich and varied cultures.