BY: JULIETTE RAMBERG DE RUYTER
Immigrating to the U.S. is expensive, be prepared to empty your wallet, friend! Even though your costs depend on where you are moving from, how much you decide to bring with you, and if you are eligible for getting your move paid for by the U.S. Military – you won’t be able to escape the immigration fees.
Below I’ve listed my personal expenses when moving from Sweden to California in 2016. I immigrated on a K-1 Visa. Since I wasn't married to my spouse when I moved, we had to pay for everything ourselves.
· Shipping costs for personal belongings (9 standard moving boxes): $1,100
· Flight ticket from Sweden – Los Angeles, CA: $600
· Visa expenses + Work Authorization/Green Card fees: $2,000
· Travel Insurance (including medical) for 2 months: $100
· New phone, adapters, chargers: $600
In addition, we had expenses for new furniture, housing, our wedding, vehicles, college degree evaluations, insurances, drivers license. And later on, additional fees related to the green card process.
You get it….
BUT FEAR NOT. Talk about your expenses with your spouse! I know this topic is super boring BUT it is very important! Who will pay for what? Should you work extra to save up some money before moving?
There will be a lot of small expenses piling up which will create some frustration, especially related to your immigration paperwork. Make sure to research your expenses and make a budget, together.
For YOU to think about.
Managing finances from abroad can get complicated, being proactive is key! My goal was to cut as many financial ties as possible with my home country. It sounds rough but for many bank related errands, you often have to be there in person. Not the best solution for someone living in the US right? One solution is to sign a POA to someone you trust back home. However, I decided not to.
Here are a few situations you might want to think about:
· Pension. You’re probably still young, but this is important; do you have a pension account in your home country? In some countries, you can’t access your pension until you retire. Make sure to investigate how you will get access to this money before you emigrate. What I did: I called the Swedish Pension Agency and told them about my situation. They gave me tons of info and helped me set up future payouts. Easy-peasy.
· Savings and Bank Accounts. Will you leave money in your home country or will you transfer it to your spouse and future American bank accounts? There are a few financial regulations to be aware of when immigration to the US. Make sure you are updated on those. What I did: I transferred most of my savings to my spouse in the U.S. and kept some in Sweden to pay off my study loans.
· Funds and Investments. If you have funds, stocks, or other investments in your home country you need to investigate your rights and obligations in terms of taxes for both countries. Selling and trading in another country while living in the US can get complicated. Do some research! What I did: I decided to sell all my investments and reinvest once in the US. As you see in the budget above, I needed some cash for my immigration expenses as well.
· Loans and Debt. Schedule a meeting with your bank to set up a strategy for paying off your loans from your new home country. This is easily done and you will feel so much better when you have everything under control. What I did: I called my study loan provider and established a payment plan that will work on a long-term basis, even while being unemployed.
· International Transactions. Transferring money from a US bank to your home country can get expensive. Most banks have fees related to international transactions, plan ahead if you know you need to transfer money or pay bills overseas frequently. Paypal is helpful!