Get your financial act together before moving to Costa Rica
by guest blogger TicoNuevo
Back home, before I tackled the financial flowchart, we were dealing with a number of banks, and credit card and financial institutions; some of whom we felt either we would not need, whose fees would be too expensive to use when moving to Costa Rica or would not be easy to access via the Internet from down here. We planned to dump most of them and simplify. That, as it turns out, would have been a big mistake. Do your due diligence investigation.
We discovered that our requirements would be different than we imagined and our costs would also be different. We wound up rearranging our financial institution portfolio prioritized on perceived need, transaction costs and international accessibility before moving to Costa Rica.
Our financial transaction capability today is now more complex than before we started, but every account now has a multiple purpose and is connected in some way to the others.
Seriously, I highly recommend sitting down with some graph paper (or a graphing software program) before moving to Costa Rica and beating out a financial transaction flowchart draft. Again, treat this as a living document. So, do it in pencil. You will update it as you add and subtract financial options that fit or don’t fit your anticipated needs.
Shoot for lots of flexibility with lots of avenues and options for moving your money around your financial flowchart. Sometimes because of a bank or financial institution policy, it may take an intermediary step of sending funds to a third institution to ultimately get them where you want the funds to land. Also, it is imperative that the financial transaction plan you develop is Internet friendly. You don’t have a practical option of doing business through the mail as it takes too long and is much too uncertain in either direction. So, doing business over the Internet with your bank or financial institution must be part of your plan.
The flowchart we ultimately finalized allowed for the financial transactions we expected to execute with varying frequency in Costa Rica and customized a very flexible financial access plan based on it. It wound up being quite complex, because some banks will do some things others don’t, while some banks handle common international transactions less expensively than others.
I’m primarily referring to international ATM fees, credit card exchange rates and fees on credit-card transactions and wire transfers. (I brought a copy of the flowchart with me and have needed to refer to it to be reminded about which financial institutions do what and which are connected in some way to another.)
Believe me when I say,
1) You cannot underestimate the value of having a flexible financial transaction plan when you are living outside of your home country; and
2) transaction fees can put an enormous dent in your budget if you haven’t reviewed and optimized the institutions with whom you do business.
You should not expect the rules in place when you get your financial act together to be exactly the same as when you arrive. I credit the flexibility built into our financial transaction plan for allowing us to work around these unexpected changes in laws and policies after moving to Costa Rica without forcing us to turn around and head home.
The author of this blog, Ticonuevo, is a US expat who moved to Costa Rica and used the services of GoDutch Realty to purchase a property in Costa Rica. In his blogs, Ticonuevo describes his own experiences of taking the step of moving to Costa Rica and getting a new life started.