One difficult/confusing aspect of transitioning to life in the Netherlands has been banking, especially in the first few months. I find these sort of topics boring I’ll attempt to keep this post short and to the point (If you're impatient like me you should note there's a link at the end of this post for a free international money transfer).
When I arrived in Dordrecht, I knew that I would keep my US checking and savings accounts active - mainly to make receiving payments from the US and spending money there simple. Not too complicated, right?
Right. However, I did need to get money into the Netherlands. Without a BSN (Dutch social security) number, I could not open a bank account. JP added me to his and that caused some unforseen problems.
The most significant being the Dutch government adhering to US tax laws and closing the account without notice. You see, if a US expat opens (or is added to) a foreign bank account containing more than $10,000 - something called an FBAR must be filled out - oopsie. I discovered this one afternoon shopping at Albert Heijn after the cashier scanned my cart full of groceries and the bank card wouldn’t go through. The cashier spoke spoke zero English. I speak 1% Dutch. The line was long. Good times. But that’s a story for another time.
The next best option was transferring money over to JP, but how? Somewhere along the line, a colleague of JP’s mentioned a peer to peer money transferring service called Transferwise, so we looked into it. Below is a video explaining how it works:
After comparing Transferwise to sending money through my bank and Paypal - it proved to be the least complicated and least expensive option, so we decided to give it a test run with something safe like $100.
To be honest, I was partially anticipating something ridiculous to happen - like an absurd hidden fee, or the money to disappear mysteriously. But, to my (pleasant) surprise, everything went through exactly as promised. So I did it again, with a more significant amount and had the same results.
Since that test run, I’ve used their service 3 more times in the past 6 months. The money arrives within days, the fees are low and the process is super easy. As long as I’m living in the Netherlands and part of my income comes from the US, I’ll continue using Transferwise. I think this service would also be great if you're visiting a friend or loved one in another country and you want to avoid banking/transferring fees.
If you’d like to check them out or give them a try, be sure to use this link - your first transfer will free, and I will receive a small referral incentive. https://transferwise.com/?utm_source=invite&utm_medium=url&utm_content=&utm_campaign=3for50
Do you have any tips for getting your money from your home country to your new home country?