Preguntas Ardientes: Is an International Bank Account Right for Me?

I get loads of questions from you guys about moving to Spain and settling in, how to handle money and how to learn Spanish (and what to eat, duh). Up and moving to any country has its own set of headaches – both before and after – and I try and answer as best I can when readers ask questions on everything to how to work in Spain to how to deal with homesickness. That’s where Preguntas Ardientes comes in – a series dedicated to the ins and outs of expat life in Iberia. If you’re curious or have a burning question, email me at sunshineandsiestas [at] gmail [dot] com – I’d love to hear from you!

Recently, the Novio and I were at a gala for his squadron’s anniversary. Most of his coworkers are aware that his partner is foreign with a flair for sevillanía, so I often become the center of attention during cocktail hour when they shoot a million questions at me (and I’m really more interested in the canapés, jerks).

The most common? What was the hardest part about moving abroad? After adapting to the language and finding friends, the most challenging part of daily life was money (and it’s something you guys ask me about often, too!).

I had and still maintain an income in Spain, whereas as all of my bills were linked to accounts back in the US. I had no idea how to pay taxes in either country (or if I even needed to), and transferring money between euros and dollars soon began to eat into my savings account. Having one foot in two places can be difficult – but then again, I expected to be in Spain for just one year.

While I have kept three bank accounts in two different countries, I never considered offshore banking or international accounts. No, this isn’t the stuff of international spies or crime rings, but a convenient way to handle your money while abroad thanks to flexible options and lower costs of account maintenance.

Let’s face it – Spain is a country that has a high international population, and these people often have ties to their home country – both mentally and financially. For expats who still receive payments of benefits from their home country (such as retirement or payouts, or even freelance work), considering this type of service is one of the biggest benefits of an offshore savings account. You don’t need to worry about converting dollars to euros to pounds and back in your head, nor deal with spending more money to make transfers between bank accounts, as an international account will allow you to do this all for a small monthly fee.
Is an international bank account right for you? If you’ve still got one foot in each bucket, then it’s worth considering. If you’re looking for extra perks, such as travel insurance to cover you wherever you go, then you should more than consider it. Sometimes, you can get more financial benefits from having your assets in just one account, rather than splitting them up between different institutions. Doing your research really does pay off (I love puns and you should, too).
Do you have an international bank account? How does it work for you?
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About Cat Gaa

As a beef-loving Chicago girl living amongst pigs, bullfighters, and a whole lotta canis, Cat Gaa writes about expat life in Seville, Spain. When not cavorting with adorable Spanish grandpas or struggling with Spanish prepositions, she works in higher education at an American university in Madrid and freelances with other publications, like Rough Guides and The Spain Scoop.


  1. Hi!
    First of all, great blog, it’s very helpful.
    Second, We’re two Brits who want to retire to Spain SOON! Going for 3 months Jan to March 2014. Renting a property, hoping to buy. (South of Benidorm)
    Third: we may be retired but not a couple of old cronies.
    Fourth: Puny Puns rule!
    Fifth: My blog is here:
    Yep, it’s different, we live on an apartment style widebeam canal boat called Takey Tezey, (play on words there). After 5 years of living afloat and blogging about the lifestyle our transition to Spain has already begun to be documented, but for now we’re in “limbo” land. So it’s all about, well anything really at the moment! (Sense of humour required) We were in Benidorm earlier this year but decided it was too “busy” we want to integrate. La Zenia is a favourite at the mo, do you know of it?
    From Heth
    Heather recently posted..I’ve gone all floweryMy Profile

  2. I totally welcome the whole all-eyes-on-me situation! I love the conversations it brings up. They tend to be more fun and engaging than everyday convos.

    The most difficult part of moving abroad would be leaving behind ranch dressing, of course. Duh.
    Kaley recently posted..De Tapas por Zamora—Where to Eat in Zamora, SpainMy Profile

  3. Pedro Meca says:

    preguntas ardientes? what? do you mean questions burning hot? questions in flames? questions with high temperature? questions on fire as being burnt at stakes? hahahaha just kidding! :)

    i’ve never heard of preguntas ardientes, but i do know what you mean.

    • Sunshine and Siestas says:

      Haha, we have a phrase in English called ‘burning questions.’ It’s essentially wrapping up the questions I get often on my blog!

  4. Pedro Meca says:

    then i’ve just learnt something new with “burning questions”, i mean, i thought that you meant something like “preguntas dificiles” (difficult questions) o “preguntas comprometidas” (questions with high debate), but now you tell me it is just about wrapping up questions!

    thanks English language teacher! i thought that i had already mastered the language, but it’s clear that there may be always something new to learn being a non English native, thanks Catherine (Catalina in Castilian)!

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