What you need to know about transferring your money out of South Africa when emigrating

Moving to a new country is an educational experience like no other, where every day brings new discoveries: food, culture, people, places and customs. However, it’s hard work too.

Figuring out the specifics around finances can be a daunting task, says Saskia Johnston, senior manager forex at Sable International.

While the notion of moving to a distant land to seek out a new life is romantic and exhilarating, it’s an undertaking that can be fraught with financial obstacles.

Reasons for emigrating vary, but whether you need to move for work or want to retire on sunnier shores, looking into foreign exchange options can help you save considerable amounts of money.

Managing your money: The biggest challenge of emigration

Among the biggest challenges for expatriates moving abroad is managing their finances. Traditionally, those looking to relocate have relied heavily on banks to provide them with transfer services, partly due to the ease of using an existing bank account.

In recent years, however, forex companies have begun offering quicker service, improved accessibility and cheaper transfer solutions.

As any move abroad comes with a range of money transfer commitments (from moving savings or buying foreign property), having a reliable, money-saving way of managing currency payments can make a big difference. If you’re exchanging significant savings to live on, even small margins in the exchange rate could greatly benefit you.

Keep your current bank account or open a new one?

When moving overseas, you will have many different banking options. You can choose to keep your current bank account, or you can open a new local account in the country you move to.

You may need to make payments back home regularly or need to access living or retirement annuities. You may also want to set up an offshore account to invest your savings and protect yourself against volatile or at-risk currencies.

Taking your money abroad can be complex; working with exchange control regulations and knowing which amounts you can safely transfer out of your home country requires expert knowledge and understanding.

Why you need to consult with a specialist

The benefit of using a dedicated forex specialist is that you will be able to have a financing solution that is personalised to suit your needs. Working with an expert can ease the stress of emigrating and also save you more money in the long run.

Aside from managing all of your foreign exchange transfers and cross-border payments, a good forex specialist will be able to set up virtual e-wallets if you wish to begin the foreign exchange process prior to being physically present in the country you are moving to.

Exchange rates greatly affect how much money you will receive. Political, economic, social and environmental developments can all affect the value of a currency.

We have all seen how the results of an election can impact the markets and therefore directly affect the funds in your bank account. Working with a forex specialist means you’ll be able to convert funds ahead of time and hedge risk.

Post-emigration: Addressing your cross-border needs

After you have settled in your new country, you will most likely still have global ties and need to make cross-border payments and transfer money overseas.

Whether you have a mortgage abroad or are paying international school fees, a forex broker can help you save money when it comes to locking in exchange rates for big purchases or just targeting set exchange rates and waiting until the currency hits that rate.

It is always recommended to choose your forex provider carefully. Beyond looking at the rates they charge, you should consider their levels of service and care. Especially around the support they can offer if something were to go wrong or you needed to make last-minute changes.

You want a dedicated account manager who can explain the ups and downs of the currency market and show you how to use transfer tools for budgeting and forward planning.

  • By Saskia Johnston, senior business development manager forex, Sable International

Read: Why a ‘wealth tax’ would be more like a ‘middle class tax’ in South Africa

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What you need to know about transferring your money out of South Africa when emigrating