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How to Manage Your Affairs while Living Abroad

Deciding to move abroad, whether for education or leisure or work, is a big step. Thrilling, slightly frightening, always interesting -- living outside the U.S. brings certain challenges when it comes to managing your affairs, such as dealing with property you own, handling your mail services, and staying in touch via phone or the Internet. Here are the steps you can take to make this transition less troublesome, so you can enjoy your stay elsewhere.

Decide Whether to Keep or Sell Property

Property, including homes, land, automobiles, and other assets, can be handled in one of two ways. You can opt to lease it out, or you can keep it. If you have no solid plans for returning to the States, selling the property is your best option, because it's difficult to handle large-ticket sales transactions when you're far away. You can lease these things out, but bear in mind you won't be around to handle issues like the lessee's failure to pay, any insurance claims that arise, or other unforeseen problems.

If you decide to retain ownership, hire a property manager to oversee rent collections, handle maintenance issues, and keep property taxes paid. You can also turn your home into a vacation rental if you choose, but you'll still need a property manager. Have someone you trust care for your vehicles, or consider shipping them to where you're living. Only the most valuable vehicles are worth shipping, however, and the cost is often not worth the vehicle. In these cases, consider selling or warehousing your vehicles.

Arrange for Mail and Package Handling Services

A mail and package handling service is ideal for maintaining your business in the States without alerting people that you aren't around. A mail forwarding service can establish a verifiable U.S. address for you, where you can receive mail and packages. You can then decide whether to have the service open and scan your mail, and email or text you copies, or have them ship your mail and packages to your overseas address. With this service, you can continue to shop with the U.S. retailers you love, even if they don't offer international shipping. The service will bundle your mail and packages into larger boxes to save you costs on international shipping.

Use Internet Calling Services

One of the costliest aspects of conducting personal or professional business from outside the U.S. is long distance telephone charges. Depending on where you live, cellular services for international calling can range from comparable to that in the States, to non-existent or tremendously costly. Additionally, most plans offer a limited number of minutes, and you may incur extra costs for international texts, at a rate of 15 cents to over 50 cents per text. If you go significantly over the minutes on your plan, be prepared for costs into the hundreds of dollars. A far better alternative is to turn to Skype or Google Voice. These services are free for making outgoing calls, but to receive incoming calls and have a dedicated phone number, a nominal annual fee (generally less than $100 USD) is required. You can opt to pay by the quarter or by the year, depending on how long you need your international number.

Invest in USB Wireless Internet

Most people simply can't do without Internet services, these days, yet Internet services are not as readily available in some parts of the world as they are in the States. The best option, and the most affordable, is to invest in a USB wireless Internet device. Aside from the initial cost of the device, most service providers offer pay-as-you-go plans so you only have to pay for what you need. This saves you money when you're in cities where Wi-Fi is available for free. Your Internet service can also reduce your need for costly cell phone or landline telephone plans.

Now that you've taken care of your personal property, mail delivery services, calling, and Internet, enjoy your stay abroad! You'll build memories, knowledge, and friendships that will last a lifetime. Get your mail taken care of, today, at 

Image by Luke Durkin via Flickr 

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