Personal admin when living abroad; smart and simple tips to know

Personal admin when living abroad; smart and simple tips to know

Personal admin! Raise your hand if you love to deal with lots of paperwork…Yep, thought so. I still have to meet the first person who loves to do their taxes or enjoys doing their admin on the weekends. However, when you decide to live abroad, you simply can’t avoid it. You’ll have to deal with a lot of paperwork and often in a language you are not familiar with. To help you out, I’ve summarized some essential tips on how to make your personal admin a little bit easier.

Organize your personal admin

It maybe is a cliche to say that you should be organized when it comes to personal admin. But it is important to start with it. Here are some of my easy and practical tips:

Keep important documents handy

When you move abroad, you’ll often have to provide personal documents, like work visas, academic records, birth certificates, etc. Make sure to have a lot of copies at hand and store them somewhere for easy access. For easy and quick access, I like to organize documents in binders, like these colorful expandable files on Amazon

Keep copies online 

Make sure to keep digital copies of your paperwork, preferably in a cloud, so you always have access to it. Take pictures of important documents straight away and save them to your cloud. This way, admin work doesn’t stack up, and it will only cost you 2 minutes to do. I use dropbox, but there are other cloud services like Google Drive and iCloud. Ensure the service has an app, so you can access your files from your phone. 

Educate yourself

Every country is different. Especially when it comes to taxes or insurances, don’t assume the same rules as your home country apply. Do yourself (and your loved ones) a favor by educating yourself about local laws and regulations and make informed decisions. Some ways to help you:

Talk to locals and fellow global citizens

When you move abroad you’ll rely heavily on recommendations from locals and fellow expats. Don’t shy away to ask! People are (often) happy to help you. Ask your colleagues about a trusted real estate agent, bank, or insurance company. And talk to fellow expats about any tips for government or embassy stuff. I’ve relied on help from others numerous times and it has saved me time, money, or frustration.

Consider hiring professionals

If you can afford it, I would recommend hiring a local professional for the more complicated admin. You can find experts in all kinds of fields. You can hire immigration lawyers for immigration papers and work visas, or a tax consultant for your tax papers. Especially if the local language is difficult, it is smart to hire a local expert. And don’t sweat. If you can’t afford it, I’m sure a local friend will be happy to help you with translating documents or joining you at appointments. 

Prepare yourself for worst-case scenario’s

One of the things I’m glad we did when moving abroad was organizing ourselves for the worst-case scenario. Trust me, it can be a lifesaver when you have things in place for unforeseen events. 


There are a lot of things you can insure nowadays. However, most of them (especially the International ones) can be expensive. That said, you should seriously consider insuring yourself if it is relevant to your situation. 

Let me give you a personal example; when we moved from the Netherlands to Australia we were young with not a lot of savings. Even though it wasn’t cheap, we decided to cover ourselves with 2-year expat insurance from Allianz. This insured covered us for things like health care and emergencies. After living in Australia for 16 months, my father-in-law was in a life-threatening situation, and we had to fly back. Allianz helped us significantly. Not only did they cover all the costs. They also helped with booking the tickets. Long story short, even if you don’t expect it (or don’t want to think about it), unforeseen things can happen. Best to prepare for it.

Will and testament

Whether you have a will or testament, or not. It is a good time to get one. Make sure it is legally binding in both your home country and your new destination. I don’t want to make a doomsday-prepper out of you. But you will sleep better knowing that you have your paperwork ready in case something happens to you (or your family). Especially, if you have kids it is important to have things written down. 


I think you’ve realized by now that moving abroad comes with a lot of paperwork. I hope these practical tips have helped you today.

If you are moving abroad and are overwhelmed with all the paperwork. Pick up a copy of the Let’s Move Abroad Book, to find a lot more tips, resources and helpful checklists.

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