Expat financial preparation for a disaster scenario abroad

Published:  17 Feb at 6 PM
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Tagged: Money, Travel Abroad
Over the last few years, disaster has struck in many countries, with Japan’s earthquake and tsunami, the war in Syria and the Libyan conflict prime examples of scenarios which can severely affect expat residents.

Natural disasters and political meltdowns can disrupt every aspect of expat life including financial security and access to funds, so it’s best to be prepared. Banking transactions such as condo rentals and suchlike need to be taken care of, no matter what’s going on or why, and internet and phone services may well be cut off.

For example, during Egypt’s Arab Spring, banks were closed for days, ATMs ran out of cash and money for essentials was impossible to access. Expats need to remember that, in disaster scenarios, cash is king, and keep a supply for emergencies in a safe place.

It’s best to keep a bank account in your home country after you leave, as well as opening an account in your new country of residence. This gives the flexibility to transfer cash from your home country account via systems such as Western Union or others with local branches worldwide.

Leaving no financial stone unturned by maxing your ways of getting funds is another essential in these troubled times. Pre-paid credit cards, debit and ATM cards, Cash Passport re-loadable travel money, virtual credit cards and PayPal are all ways to gain access to funds in emergencies.

A well-planned exit strategy is another essential, whether or not you’re employed overseas. Heading for the nearest border sounds dramatic, but financing your own exit rather than waiting for your embassy or employer to do it for you might save your life in extreme circumstances.

Paid membership of the many expat organisations worldwide brings you into contact with experienced expats who know the ropes in your host country as well as having valuable contacts at home. Investing in the latest technology is another idea, with satellite phones the answer to the failure of internet and cellular services.
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