The benefits of living in a foreign country are well-documented. Different job opportunities, learning new skills and languages, embracing different cultures, possibilities for self-growth, and the opening of literal new horizons.

Less well-documented perhaps, are the trials and tribulations of moving and working abroad. As alluring as it sounds to cast off from all that is familiar and find work beyond the US, it takes both planning and an understanding of the complications one might face to really make a success out of it.

However, nothing worth doing is ever easy and there are always solutions. All it takes is a little graft, or even a helping hand from a pro grade tax service company. Here are the four top challenges you might face as a US Expat and a few recommendations on pushing through those inevitable growing pains:

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Taxes Can Be Taxing

Does anyone enjoy doing their annual tax calculations and paperwork, even in their home country? No matter where you live, you must still file and report your worldwide income.

Doing your taxes every year is especially difficult for US expats for several reasons. The tax year begins on January 1st and ends on New Year’s Eve in the US, but this is sadly not the case in most other countries, causing all manner of confusion. Tax codes change every year along with the political landscapes back in the US, making it difficult to keep track of the process when in another country. Furthermore, each state has its own rules, commercial tax programs are designed for taxpayers living in the US and there are extra considerations if you’re freelance. The headache-inducing list of complications goes on, which could lead to overpaid taxes, missed credits or even legal actions taken against you.

The good news is that most expats don’t usually have to pay much, or even any, tax to the IRS (International Revenue Service). However, the deductions don’t happen magically and the company Taxes for Expats are experts on helping you get all the exemptions necessary. The online-only service concentrates completely on US expats, individuals and companies, wherever they live in the world. They do all the hard work for you, while you simply need to upload a few documents and call it a day. In fact, we have used them successfully since our move to Spain, taking a lot of hard work off our shoulders and leaving us to focus on the more important things in life – like wine and travel.

The IRS also has a nasty habit of going after expats for the smallest of errors. As such you may receive some rather terrifying looking letters accusing you of fraud in the kind of complex language only an expert can decipher. Taxes for Expats are adept at dealing with these problems and providing you with explanations in plain English. Having pinpointed the problem they’ll suggest an action plan, leaving you to concentrate on building your new life without the fear of tax collectors showing up on your new doorstep.

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Confusing Rules and Paperwork

There’s always bureaucracy in life and working abroad comes with its own (un)healthy share. Besides taxes there’s likely to be new work contracts, your visa (which might need renewal) or residency paperwork, documents from the US might need translating, your social security number needing to be acquired, bank accounts to open and – of course – health care.

However, one calming truth is you can be sure that before you someone has walked in these footsteps – no matter where you’re moving to. Ireland – as an example – is one of the most popular destination for expats to move to, especially from the US. Although its fairly easy for US citizens to move their, you'd still need the help of immigration lawyers to get all the visa paperwork together. Whereas, becoming a resident in Hong Kong – or even just settling their as a digital nomad for a year – requires being part of a scheme, such as as a non-local graduate or a technology talent admission scheme. Finally, relocating to Thailand is another popular choice due to the ease of moving there, getting permanent residency – after only three years in the country – and the advantages of the cheaper Thai lifestyle. However, due to the language barriers, slight difference in the way bureaucracy is handled can be amplified and it pays to get advice from those who have helped thousands before you.

Sleuth the Internet for expat companies unique to your soon-to-be country of residence and keep all your paperwork together in a folder. There’s nothing worse than throwing something away only to find out you need it a year later. Eventually you may wish to become a citizen of a country to free you from the lion's weight of this paperwork and this may or may not require Expatriation. Taxes for Expats can help you there too with a streamlined expatriation service if you are ready to denounce your citizenship.

Additionally, when working abroad as a US expat, it's vital to take into account the impact of value-added tax (VAT) on your financial planning. You'll need to understand the local VAT regulations and rates, as they can affect the cost of goods and services, shaping your overall budget while building a nest on foreign shores. Additionally, navigating VAT reclaim processes and ensuring compliance with both US and foreign tax obligations becomes imperative for a seamless financial transition in your expatriate journey.

Money, Money, Money

Moving to another country doesn’t come cheap! You’ll face a lot of unforeseen charges in the move and settling-in process, no matter how well your plans are laid out. These costs are often made up for over time – especially if you’re moving for a better paid job or to a country with a lower cost of living – but it pays (literally in this case) to be prepared and have some savings put aside for things like deposits, extra paperwork costs and other unforeseen fees.  Health care is a big one, so consider taking international health care if the country you are moving to doesn’t offer free health care.

Culture Shocked

As trite as it may sound, no matter where you move in the world, you’re likely to experience at least some “culture shock”. Thus, it benefits to do some research before you move, rather than after. If you’re moving for a job, ask your company what to expect. If you’re LGBTQ+ consider the laws with respect to discrimination – both on the streets and in the workplace.  If there’s likely to be a language barrier, ask if you will be provided with a translator and if you’ll be given classes in the language. You might just be dealing with English speakers in your job, but you still need to get by in your day-to-day business. Language exchange programs often exist that are also great ways to meet other expats and locals.

The feeling of homesickness is a common one, but tends to subside in about a year, according to studies. Making friends certainly helps with this. If you have a job outside of your house then you already have your colleagues as potential friends, but another good solution is getting yourself out there through hobby groups using websites like There you can connect with others who share your interests. After all, wherever you go in the world, life is made by the connections we make.

This article was sponsored by Taxes for Expats.