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How can you avoid foreign banking, ATM, and transaction fees?

 

by @danielgenser7yr  | 52 comments

Whatโ€™s the latest on how to avoid ATM/bank/foreign transaction fees? How do you keep track of money spent when youโ€™re never quite sure of the exact exchange rate? I normally use YNAB to keep on top of my budget here at home, but Iโ€™m dreading keeping tabs on all the minute foreign transaction adjustments abroadโ€ฆ

Iโ€™m looking at this to check out some of the banking options: http://thepointsguy.com/2014/02/the-top-11-checking-accounts-for-avoiding-foreign-atm-fees/

Have you used any of these?

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@lefnire6yr

Done our research to the max. Chase Visa credit card and Charles Schwab debit card. The Chase one gives you flying points like crazy, so double value there.

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@vladepap6yr

For Canadians, I found this great article.
Best Canadian Bank for Overseas Travel

Itโ€™s a couple years old, but I found it helpful.

In my experience, if you are paid in Europe to a Canadian account, the bank matters. Some EU banks donโ€™t understand that Canadians donโ€™t use IBAN and that makes transferring money a big hassle.

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@vladepap6yr

Hi everyone,
Iโ€™m a Canadian and EU citizen looking for a good no fees, easy transfer account option that will allow me to transfer money to Canada from Europe, and receive UK funds.

Iโ€™ve been on the road for a few years, but havenโ€™t stumbled across the right combo yet. Now that my latest bank account doesnโ€™t allow use of Maestro outside Europe, Iโ€™m looking to simplify/centralize and then transfer from one global account. That would be nice.

Any suggestions/recommendations?

For example, would revolut be a viable option?

Thanks,
Valerie

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Hi Valerie,

You could look at Revolut. I have had some technical issues with them, but when it works, it does work well! They issue you a Mastercard that should work almost anywhere and the only charge is your banks charge for the exchange.

Again, I have had some teething issues, but I am still hopeful that this will be a good solution for me. Iโ€™m also a Canadian / EU citizen - bank is in Canada.

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@vladepap6yr

Thanks @flyingscottie! Would be interested to hear how you go. My main goal is to contribute to my Canadian bank account.

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@neutron6yr

Iโ€™ve been using revolut.com and transferwise - revolut is completely free - no commissions, no atm charges, no differences in FX. Its great for GBP EUR, but not sure how good for USD - apparently USD works though.

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@constantx6yr

Iโ€™m using xoom for getting money into Vietnam, quite low fee and you can pick up the cash or have it delivered to you directly :smile:

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@richardh6yr

For UK banked nomads I recommend using WeSwap for money abroad, using the Android app/web to move money from my current account to WeSwapsโ€™ โ€œprepaidโ€ MasterCard. 15 other currencies are supported, other countries too.

They charge 1.4% for instant conversion, 1.3% for waiting 3 days and only 1% if youโ€™re happy to wait up to 1 week. This drops to 0% if you invite 5 friends to joinโ€ฆ

They charge ยฃ1.50 for ATM withdrawals under ยฃ200 equivalent but shops and restaurants are always free. I canโ€™t put my referral link here because iโ€™m new.

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@nomadicme6yr

Citigold ($50k min), HSBC Premier ($100k min), Schwab High Yield Investor Checking (no min) all have no ATM fees or foreign transaction fees whatsoever.

Other US options may include First Republic Bank ($2,500 min), Union Bank ($50k min), & Chase Private Client ($25k min). Awaiting further info re whether these are truly free.

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@tkrunning7yr

I wrote a post in Medium about this recently: https://medium.com/nomad-gate/the-world-s-best-bank-accounts-for-international-travelers-and-nomads-3257e6839cff

In the post I identify great banks for nomads in different parts of the world (Europe, US, Australia, NZ, UK, etc). I hope it can be of some help, and feel free to contact me personally if you have questions regarding any of the banks.

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Iโ€™ve been a loyal customer of State Farm Bank (in the US) for many years for this very reason. They refund your ATM fees from any ATM, anywhere in the world. I think there may be a monthly limit to refundable fees (like $12) but Iโ€™m not sure Iโ€™ve ever hit it. The card works at loads of ATMs.

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Iโ€™ve been traveling in Brazil, and Iโ€™ve been using a CapitalOne credit card (no foreign transaction fees) and opened an Ally Bank Checking Account (No ATM fees, using Banco do Brasil).

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@manu7yr

There is a new player in the online banking field:

They also do free ATM withdrawals abroad and have a great online interface. Identification is via video chat. Currently thereโ€™s a waiting list, but you can already put your name there to check it out later.

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@tilen7yr

Wow, this looks like the way banking should look likeโ€ฆ Really hope they start expanding to other EU countries soon :slight_smile:

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@michael7yr

I found this post giving some tips around the ATM fees, along with some additional useful info: http://www.dontworryjusttravel.com/asiapacific/thailand/avoid-the-150-baht-atm-fee/

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@johnnyfd7yr

USA Only but I use Schwab which reimburses ALL ATM fees, even from foreign countries.

For credit cards I use the Barclay Arrival+ and Capital One Venture Card which has no foreign transaction charges.

For local banks, I have Bangkok Bank here in Thailand, which has a branch in New York so I can transfer money from Chase to their branch easily. Hope that helps!

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@tprophet7yr

I use HSBC and have a Premier account with them. They waive all ATM fees with this account type and they can also help to arrange international accounts (so I have European, Chinese and Canadian accounts). If you have accounts with HSBC overseas, you can transfer money between your accounts for free with a Premier account.

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@manu7yr

Interesting, but only true if you hunt down one of their ATMs. Will they also waive it if you go to any ATM in another country? I donโ€™t think so.

See pages 22 and 24 here

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@tprophet7yr

Yes, HSBC USA does reimburse foreign ATM fees. Itโ€™s usually automatic but if there is one that is missed, you can call and they will credit them back. The only place in the world where they donโ€™t reimburse these fees is New York state (for some reason).

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What is your nationality? Are you a CA or EU citizen? From my experience this doesnโ€™t work for US citizens but just checking.

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Iโ€™m hoping to open an account in CAD and in EUR with HSBC for my European travels in 2016โ€ฆ anyone know of availability of ATMs in their network in Portugal?

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Hi!

I can say the best are:

  1. Charles Schwab
  2. E*trade - sometimes they have a 1% fee but I believe with a min. balance it goes away.

Both banks re-imburse you (automatically, not end of the month) on any ATM fees, worldwide. It rocks.

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Interesting โ€“ I had no idea E*trade had a checking/ATM option. Wonder if their UI is better than Schwab? Schwab can be a little confusing.

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Yes - e*trade is also a full on bank and brokerage just like Schwab. And to be honest, their UI/app/site is nicer than Scwabโ€™s. Good luck!

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@travis6yr

FWIW, I called E*trade prior to the Europe trip weโ€™re on now, and they told me they would not reimburse ATM fees internationally, and that thereโ€™s a foreign transaction fee of IIRC 3%, even on ATM withdrawals. They claim itโ€™s VISA imposing the fee, but I seriously doubt it.

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@jb5107yr

+1 For Schwab. I liked it so much I wrote a blog post (I am SOOooo not a blogger) http://wanderingjon.com/2014/01/01/avoiding-fees-noble-vacation-goals/

Only problem I had was getting withdrawals denied for 48 hours after arriving in Bulgaria without filing a travel notice with themโ€ฆ sucked though being that I landed at 1am and couldnโ€™t get expected LEV out out the ATM. Easy enough to use euros in Bulgaria when you have to, but took 4 trips to ATMs and a skype call to Schwab to get the card working.

Otherwise, pays me back $10-30 in fees at the end of every month.

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Thanks @jb510 โ€“ awesome article! I just signed up for the Schwab account, but havenโ€™t funded it yet. Itโ€™s pretty confusing, but I havenโ€™t given it much time yet, to be honest.

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@jb5107yr

Funding it is the one big hassleโ€ฆ

For me. I use Schwab MoneyLink to transfer money from my non-schwab personal checking to my Schwab Brokerage account. This is an electronic transfer and take 3-5 days to clear and settle.

I used to then transfer the money from the brokerage account into my Schwab Investment Checking (which is the account with the ATM card), but it turns out they will automattic pull funds (overdraft, no fee) from brokerage to cover withdrawals from the checking account so I donโ€™t bother any more.

YMMV. I keep 500-1000 in that account. Any time I draw it down I schedule another transfer from my non-schwab > schwab.

A few times Iโ€™ve been left high and dry by needing to get cash out and not having any available in that account because of transfer timesโ€ฆ Variously I either exchange the US cash I carry for โ€œemergenciesโ€ or just withdraw directly from my non-schwab atm and stomach the fee.

Obviously tolerating the transfer limbo means transferring money early and being comfortable leaving a positive balance in multiple accounts. It wonโ€™t work well for people whoโ€™s cash balances are frequently near zero, but I assume most experienced digital nomads have pretty health buffers to weather financial storms.

edit: call themโ€ฆ their phone customer service is fabulous.

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Awesome advice, thanks @jb510. Incidentally, I know you said youโ€™re not a blogger, but I think your site is great. Good stuff. Gave you a follow on Twitter as well. Maybe weโ€™ll cross paths on the road some time. Cheers!

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Thanks all. I ended up applying for the Charles Schwab Investor Checking Account. Planning on keeping my credit union checking account as my primary one for direct deposit and bill pay back home, and then just transferring money from that account to the Schwab account for spending money and foreign expenses.

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@exexist7yr

For US banks, First Republic Bank also works pretty (waived international ATM fees).

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@kmander7yr

For Brits, Halifax Clarity is by far the best credit card to get for foreign ATM withdrawals.

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@kmander You can withdraw cash with no fees?

Halifax rinse me on withdrawal fees / exchange rates.

Can you give me an example of a recent charge - i.e how much you withdrew in cash and how much was taken from your bank?

Iโ€™d like to move to this card by the sounds of it. Thanks.

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@kmander7yr

http://www.halifax.co.uk/creditcards/clarity-card/

Thereโ€™s no fee as such, and the rate is set to the Mastercard rate which is near unbeatable. But you are paying a ~13% annual interest on cash withdrawals as a cash advance. Providing your paying the monthly balance in full, then the effective cost is pretty negligible. Moreover, that cost can be negated by making deliberate early payments during the month from your bank.

Getting a good rate is typically more important than the fees. I did once make a withdrawal using this card vs. Smile debit card and the difference was ยฃ76.78 vs. ยฃ81.16.

You could be forgiving on a one-week holiday, but as a nomad it does make sense to optimise.

Only downside is that thereโ€™s no reward/points etc. linked to spending.

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@avermat7yr

Maybe there should be a new thread for credit cards, however, Iโ€™d like to add that there are a few Capital One credit cards that give 2% cash back or 2x miles on ALL purchases (with no foreign transaction fees).

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Another option (when you are able to) is to use a credit card that doesnโ€™t charge foreign transaction fees for as much of your purchasing as possible, then pay your credit card from your home checking account as normal. Both the BarclaysCard and the United MileagePlus Explorer Card are targeted at heavy travelers, with no international purchase fees and very solid mileage programs.

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Great point on credit cards. While we use our Schwab Debit card to withdraw cash at ATMs wherever we go, we put most of our spend on a Chase Sapphire Preferred and a Barclaycard Arrival Plus. We earn points/miles from our spend on the cards, and thereโ€™s extra security to purchasing things on credit.

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@grum7yr

For Australians, Citibank is the most nomad-friendly bank with multiple options that other banks donโ€™t offer such as multi currency accounts, no monthly account keeping fees, no fees at all for transactions made at International ATMs and free international money transfers (if you transfer Citibank to Citibank, they also are instant regardless of country of origin).

Unfortunately for instances where the ATM charges you the fee, they wonโ€™t re-imburse you like Charles Schwab does (I donโ€™t think any bank in Australia offers this service). But unlike most other Australian banks, they wonโ€™t charge you that $5-$25 fee plus up to 5% of the amount withdrawn in fees. If youโ€™re the type of person who withdraws their spending money once a week, an Australian bank would slug you huge fees every time - thats up to $150 a month for the average person.

Their internet banking interface sucks but does everything other banks do, you just have to avoid wanting to punch your screen every time you log in as it is slow and backwards. It also has some features that are missing from other banks like 2 factor authentication and SMS/eMail alerts - perfect for when youโ€™re traveling and your ATM card has been cloned. You get to find out immediately when someone steals your money instead of the day after when youโ€™re trying to pay for a pizza and have your card declined.

https://www.citibank.com.au/aus/global_banking.htm

In instances where I have to use my other bank account and need to transfer from country to country, I use Bitcoin to avoid transaction fees. The transactions have to be done immediately in succession to avoid losing (sometimes gaining) money with the regular fluctuation of the bitcoin but Iโ€™ve managed to avoid hundreds of dollars a year in fees.

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@angsmith7yr

Can you please give me some more info about using Bitcoin to transfer?

I get paid into a US bank account, but I pay my bills out of my Australian bank account. I use TransferWise to make the transfers, but wondering if Bitcoin is better. How can you convert the Bitcoin to cash again?

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@youjindo7yr

While I worked for a bitcoin startup last year, I wrote about my experience and a little experiment getting paid in Bitcoin, but also wrote about a brief comparison between bankโ€™s ATM and bitcoin ATM. Hope this can be helpful:
[Payroll is coming, Have you considered getting paid in Bitcoin? #1][1]
[Payroll is coming, Have you considered getting paid in Bitcoin? #2][2]
[Money Exchange = Pain In the Ass. What if you have Bitcoin?][3]

And this is a summary of my experiment with getting paid in bitcoin:

In my opinion, still there is a long way to go due to a volatility. For example, about 2 months ago when I got paid in bitcoin, I forgot selling it as soon as I received from the company to avoid any price fluctuation. Now, bitcoin price has dropped about 25% since that time.
[1]: https://medium.com/@37Coins/payroll-is-coming-have-you-considered-getting-paid-by-bitcoin-7fa1baa19be8
[2]: https://medium.com/@37Coins/payroll-is-coming-have-you-considered-getting-paid-in-bitcoin-2-d378562879a2
[3]: https://medium.com/@37Coins/money-exchange-pain-in-the-ass-what-if-you-have-bitcoin-a41c3ec8011e

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@levelsio7yr

@youjindo knows more about Bitcoin payroll transfers

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@angsmith7yr

Is a Citibank global account a better/cheaper option than transferring via OzForex or Transferwise? I have a US bank account & periodically transfer my salary back to my Australian account.

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@grum7yr

Depends on the volume of money youโ€™re pushing. I donโ€™t stare at the exchange rates but over the number of times Iโ€™ve looked at ozforex vs citibank, forex wins however their fees cancel out the win.

So maybe :wink:

Citibank would be much easier to deal with and if you want to save every possible cent, best to get the olโ€™ spreadsheet out and do your maths on the day of the transfer.

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in Australia BankWestโ€™s Zero Platinum card also has no fees on international transactions. Platinum also gets you complimentary travel insurance, etc.

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@JamesSchipper Is there a specific Charles Schwab account that is of particular interest I should look at? How have they been about transferring money between accounts?

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Here is a link to the account youโ€™ll want: Itโ€™s called the Investor Checking Account.

It requires that you start an investment account, which you donโ€™t have to actually use and has no fees to have. Their bread and butter is investment management, and the checking accounts are largely an attractive feature to help people make the decision to use their other services.

On one of our account groups there, weโ€™ve never used the investment account at all, other than to initially fund the account.

As far as transferring funds, once accounts are all set up and verified with each other, itโ€™s a simple matter to move money around wherever you are to/from whichever accounts you have. Weโ€™ve used only online banking for 3-4 years now, and have not had anything but easy success with them.

The only issue I can see is if you still get checks mailed to you with any regularity, as there are very few actual physical locations to take them, and for the most part, they need to be mailed in.

There is a mobile app I havenโ€™t dealt with much that should have the photo check deposit thing. But I donโ€™t generally deal with checks, so canโ€™t really speak on that much.

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@will7yr

Iโ€™ll second the Charles Schwab recommendation.

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@manu7yr

There are also 2 or 3 German online banks without ATM fees (via Visa debit card). They will even refund the additional fee they charge you in Thailand. Just send in the receipts.

You can also open a local bank account and transfer yourself money via Transferwise or a similar service.

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Weโ€™ve been using Charles Schwab Bank for years now and canโ€™t recommend it more highly. Best way to go if youโ€™re a US citizen, IMO.

They reimburse all ATM fees every month (worldwide), and donโ€™t charge any foreign transaction fees.

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Agreed on Charles Schwab if youโ€™re from the US. Havenโ€™t paid ATM fees for 3 years no matter what the ATMs charge. It is simply not an issue wherever you go.

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Charles Schwab is amazing. Especially if youโ€™re an investor too.

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@johnnyfd7yr

I also use Schwab for my ATM withdrawals and recommend them. I also have a local account with Bangkok Bank as they have a branch in New York so itโ€™s easy to transfer money into from my Chase account.

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Read and participate in 14,118 discussions on Nomad List

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What features would you like to see on Nomad List?


by @levelsio8mo 7 months ago | 3 comments

Hi everyone,

I would love to hear what you'd like me to build next on Nomad List, or any other product/feature feedback ideas you have.

It's been 6+ years now but I'm in this for the long term and with the boost remote work got last year it's even more exciting to work on Nomad List than ever.

Current roadmap is here: twitter.com/levelsio/status/1363204985488572417?s=20 and pbs.twimg.com/media/EusS9PKXEAUR8xp?format=jpg&name=4096x4096

The next products/features I have planned:

- ๐Ÿ›‚ Rebase: visa, residency and immigration services for remote workers

- ๐ŸŽ“Courses: learn the steps how to go remote and travel/relocate

- ๐Ÿ› Gov liaison: diplomacy services to the governments to help us lobby for nomads and for them to attract remote workers

Thanks a lot!

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What are the best places right now in the Caribbean/LatAM? (Also cheapest flights/accommodation?)


by @orangutan38mo 8 months ago | 1 comment

What are the best places right now in the Caribbean/LatAM? (Also cheapest flights/accommodation?) Asking from the US.

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List of Visa/Residency Information in Table/Spreadsheet format?


by @innovatelife9mo 8 months ago | 2 comments

As part of signing up for this website I was hoping I would come across a list of Visa and/or Residency requirements by country ideally in a table format to assist with decision making. Does anybody recommend any other websites that might present the information in this format (or Google Spreadsheet)?

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Most Walkable Neighborhood / City In The World ?


by @dannybooboo9mo 8 months ago | 1 comment

I love living in walkable areas of town. I can always find them. But now I'm wondering where in the world are the most walkable places? I'm imagining walk streets (no cars), zoning allowing both business and residential, parks or beaches ,etc.

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Any nomads in Arizona, US?


in Netherlands by @info1329mo 8 months ago | 4 comments

Hi guys,

After the Netherlands, the Bay Area, Colorado and being on the van life for 8 months, I am now in Sedona, AZ with a few other digital nomads. We are sharing a home here and are wondering if there are more like minded people in the area.

We do a bunch of hikes and campouts in the northern of Arizona. If you would like to connect with us, please do so :)

Val

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International number & internet?


by @leobassam9mo 8 months ago | 1 comment

Has anyone figured out a way to get setup with a virtual number and internet connection anywhere you go?

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Are there any tax issues I have to be aware of?


in Germany by @clara9mo 8 months ago | 0 comments

Hi everybody. I live and work in Germany and want to go to Canary Islands for 6 months to work from there. I'm going to keep my current job, just change the "home" in the home office part of things. Are there any tax issues I have to be aware of? I was reading about becoming a residence after 183 days, thus having to pay taxes there plus my employer having to register there. Does anybody know how it works exactly? Thanks a lot!

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Chiang Mai accommodation


in Chiang Mai, Thailand by @bertieb9mo 9 months ago | 0 comments

Can anyone recommend a good accommodation website for Chiang Mai?

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Is anyone travelling right now?


by @viktor10mo 9 months ago | 3 comments

Winter is coming and Iโ€™m feeling the ache of travelling after being stuck in the same place since the Pandemic started. Wondering if anyone is travelling right now? If so, where are you currently located and how is the situation where you are?

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How do you avoid settling in one place?


by @sukienniko2yr 1 year ago | 10 comments

As a follow up to my previous question (I guess I donโ€™t have the right to post links here?), but on a larger scale: if living as a nomad in a place for, say, more than a month (which will be beneficial for the sake of getting work done), how to you prevent yourself from getting too involved in the local society?

I find that every time I stay somewhere for a significant amount of time, I naturally start to settle into the idea that Iโ€™ll be there permanently, or at least long term. I guess this is human nature: wanting to have a stable lifestyle, with stable friends, relationship, workplace, recreational activities, etc. But, indeed, that is not my goal-- I believe the benefits of the nomadic lifestyle are far greater at this stage in my lifeโ€ฆ

So, for those of you who have successfully avoided settling somewhere time despite staying for months at a time, what strategies do you use to stay afloat, as in, not getting too deeply integrated locally?

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Foreigner owned Coworking business in Malaysia


in Malaysia by @newyam3yr 2 years ago | 0 comments

Heyo folks! The idea to open up an own coworking space in Malaysia has been on my mind for quite a while and I would like to reach out on foreigners being a business owner/co working space owner in Malaysia, there are a lot of questions that would follow up but most importantly is to reach out to someone with experience.

Ideally would be someone who runs a coworking space in Malaysia, second best would be to just come in touch with a foreign business owner in Malaysia.
Cheers
Yamin

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How to avoid getting your stuff stolen?


by @matthieudrula4yr 4 years ago | 8 comments

Hey guys,
My question might be blunt ahah but โ€ฆ how do you get your stuff stolen?
Do you stay in hostels, or shady hotels? Or do you get robbed?
I stopped using hostel with outsiders and I pretty much only use budget hotel now.
I have heard about an app that take screenshots of your room and send it to you if it detects movement too so you can alert the hotel staff.
I donโ€™t want to make everybody paranoiac too ;).

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Bring external monitor to SE asia and avoid coworking cost?


by @anderkd4yr 4 years ago | 13 comments

Would it be advisable or wacky to lug an external monitor from the US in hopes of avoiding coworking costs by working from Airbnb with decent wifi? Iโ€™m not sold on coworking spaces, and like the solitude of coding away in my own little airbnb space. One screen is limiting to productivity, hence the love of an external monitor. Thoughts?

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How do you avoid getting charged large fees by your bank when withdrawing overseas?


by @creative_nomad_4yr 4 years ago | 14 comments

Hi All,

My question is about banking when it comes to being overseas/working etc. How do you avoid getting charged large fees by your bank when withdrawing overseas?

Iโ€™m originally from Australia and do my banking still in Australia. I live in the UK and most recently was living in Vietnam where I found I had to withdrawl money just to get charged very large amounts from my Aussie bank.

How do you get around this? What can you recommend.

Thanks

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Anyone know good foreign currencies to hold?

 

by @worldtravel4yr 4 years ago | 22 comments

Iโ€™ve done a lot of research on foreign currencies and which are good to holdโ€ฆ its pretty complicated. it seems obvious, swiss franc, hong kong dollarโ€ฆ but when you look at if you want to open a swiss bank account they require a very high minimum balance, can charge you just to hold swiss francs, etcโ€ฆ anyone have a deep understanding of this stuff?

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How to get around blocked credit card transactions?


by @nomadaccountant5yr 4 years ago | 15 comments

it seems like Visa have gotten more tight recently and itโ€™s touch and go whether each transaction will go through. Sometimes it does but often now I am getting declined. The bank knows my locations but in the background Visa seem to be blocking a lot regardless and they are harder to notify. I am using paypal where possible because it doesnโ€™t get blocked, but thatโ€™s only good for a limited number of places.
Anyone else getting worn out by the payment approval games?

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Has anyone got a mortgage in a foreign country, as self-employed nomad?


by @davidmumfordmusic5yr 4 years ago | 3 comments

Have any of you nomads been approved for a mortgage in a foreign country?

I am a UK citizen, and now that I work online Iโ€™m interested in maybe buying a property somewhere else in Europe. I donโ€™t particularly want to live in the UK, and house prices are ridiculous here anyway. I would much rather buy a little apartment in one of any number of European cities; just somewhere to have as a base in between travelling.

Has anyone ever done such a thing? How did the process work? Which country did you buy property in and how straight-forward was the process?

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What do you do to avoid plastic bottled water in Asia?


by @nomadaccountant5yr 5 years ago | 18 comments

If I stay somewhere for a while I usually get hard bottled bulk water containers, but often I have to rely on cheap plastic water bottles, which isnโ€™t good from both a health and environmental perspective. Have used a drink bottle with a filter but canโ€™t say I trusted it, and it was a little annoying. Any better options in use?

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How do you get paid abroad without paying tons of fees?


by @waterlooalex6yr 5 years ago | 18 comments

What method do you use to get paid by your employer abroad? Iโ€™ve used wire transfers and PayPal, but come to realize there are lots of fees some more obvious than others.

For example, with PayPal, often there is an international transfer fee of 3.4% or more, then on top of that PayPal takes a 2.5% spread on the currency exchange rate.

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