I've been kind of insane lately...but finally landing back in blogland.  I have a few updates, and some surprises in store!

1) The Canadian is across the pond and ensconced in London and is already recognized at his 'local'.  I kind of think that's rather charming.  He is learning his way around but has been treated to some pretty rotten, dreary, weather.  I really try not to rub it in when the weather in Texas has been this:
From Weather.com
2) I sent off my certified letter to Cunard a couple of weeks ago...we'll see if it nets me any results for the Rotten One to get her on the boat with us.

3) We're discovering (which we already knew in advance) what a pain it is to open a bank account.  The other absolutely ENORMOUS headache that we will face during the entirety of our expat experience(s) is that all of our paychecks will be deposited in our US bank account in USD.  Which means, every two weeks, we will need to transfer over enough money to live, pay our bills, travel etc. in the UK while leaving enough in the US bank to cover mortgage and other US expenses.  If any of you have any great tips on mitigating this minor (MAJOR) dilemma, I welcome all suggestions. 

4) The TEDxAustin event was incredible.  I'm still processing it but I want to tell you more so stay tuned...

5) I've been trying to reconcile my 'foodiness' with my 'expatblogness' and I think I've decided to do a weekly post called Foodie Fridays.  That way, if you love the food stuff you can tune in on Fridays and if you don't like my food blog posts and you just want the expat stuff, you can just ignore Fridays. Deal?  Thoughts?

6) I know I owe you a Monday blog post about 7 things I want to do in London...but it's kind of been one of *those* Mondays and I just haven't had a chance -- so it will be a Tuesday blog post instead.  If you doubt that it has been one of those Mondays, just check out below what happened this morning as I was headed out to the porch to drink my morning coffee...
And now some surprises....
1) I have a guest blogger who will post this week!!  He's a little behind schedule, but as soon as I get the post via email, up on the site it will go.  Don't you want to know who it is?!?!  I cannot tell...

2) I have a FABULOUS giveaway coming up...I honestly don't have a date for it just yet -- it could be as late as April because I am working out the details, but, it's pretty dang awesome if I do say so myself. 
2/21/2011 11:41:24 am

As far as transferring money. I found this on another site awhile back. I hope it's not dated.


2/21/2011 11:58:13 am

Thank you!! I will definitely check it out!

2/21/2011 11:39:09 pm

Ack. I've had a tax/finance post in draft for weeks that I've meant to finish up for you. (I find it easier to write when I have someone in mind.) I will stay up late tonight. Have you had a tax consult? You need one. US taxes are based on citizenship so all your income will be taxed at home, but only the money you "remit" to the UK will be taxed there. This includes credit card purchases paid by US accts and cash withdrawals. The actual transferring will be easier once you've done it a few times. If you don't have a personal banker in the US, get one now. You need one. Have to go now. Will write at my place later. Oh, and I want to hear about TEDx. I watched the vid. Excellent and horrifying. We must talk further. I want to read your finished research, too.

2/22/2011 01:47:49 am

Sorry about that last. Hit return to soon. Anyway, checked out that link. Wiring has gotten easier. I can call and email (have to do both to confirm) my banker in the morning GMT, and the money is usually in my account by the next business day. She has all the details so I only have to send email request and leave voicemail to verify amount. Avoid checks whenever possible as the UK has a 5 day hold period--good to know when paying bills. Must have in the post at least 10 days prior. Royal Mail can take 1 or 7 days for typical mail, without a strike.

2/22/2011 06:17:31 am

Super helpful info about banking. We don't have a personal banker but I will go down and chat with my bank and make sure I get myself one!

The Canadian's company is paying for us to have a CPA who will take care of the craziness that will be our taxes, but any/all advice is VERY welcome. Thanks for the heads up, I am still learning all of this.

2/22/2011 11:30:23 am

The money thing is a bummer... Say nothing of the bad exchange rate. Does the Canandian have it negotiated into his contract to peg the pound to the dollar at a certain rate? If not, you could be in big trouble. The pound is around 1.65 to the dollar today but if it goes up to 1.75 that could be bad. I was paid in dollars (not in London) but negotiated to have it pegged at a favorable rate.

As for the bank, are you sure his work can't do anything? Mine did all the arrangements for me... I just had to give proof that I lived there by showing some kind of bill (or lease).

I used Lloyds and opened both a UK account but also a Sterling account - which was good because you get a better exchange rate when you travel and less fees. I would go with Lloyds over HSBC. They were really nice and helpful - my friends who had HSBC accounts struggled.

Make sure that your husband's company pays for the transfer fee. It could get expensive!

Good luck!

2/22/2011 11:54:55 am

The Canadian's company pays a COLA, cost of living adjustment, which is evaluated every few weeks or so and adjusted accordingly on the paycheck. So if the currency fluctuates dramatically we are protected.

The great thing about this company is that they write software for currency trading...so the Canadian knows pretty much every second of the day what the dollar to sterling conversion looks like. And I believe they are paying the transfer fees but I'll double check that!

I am looking into all of the different banks, but hearing good things about Lloyds is definitely helpful.

Unfortunately the company isn't making the banking arrangement for us, but they are doing *almost* everything else...I guess we're navigating this on our own... :)

2/26/2011 04:51:47 am

Having been in this position transferring money between the UK and Mexico, the UK and Canada, and the US and Mexico, I would suggest the quickest option is an international wire transfer. "Some" banks offer preferred client rates for transfers between the same institution, i.e. firstdirect (HSBC's virtual bank in the UK) only charged me £10 to transfer money to my Canadian or Mexican account BUT HSBC Canada also charged me $10 to receive the money. You should expect to pay approximately USD$40 per transfer. The delay is minimal (occasionally same day, but no more than 3 business days).

By far the cheapest option is to simply use your US debit card to withdraw funds in the UK. BoA is affiliated with Barclay's in the UK in which case all debit withdrawals are completely free! You are however limited by the maximum daily withdrawal amount which if memory serves me is about £300... tedious.

Another alternative is to use your US credit card for most transactions (I find credit cards give the best exchange rate anyway). The UK/Europe is way ahead of North America in terms of going cashless and your US credit card will be accepted almost everywhere, even down the local... in fact, I wouldn't be surprised if you were allowed to pay your rent that way!

2/27/2011 11:47:24 pm

Yeah, he's on a cash only basis right now because of the way we are getting paid but he's already sick of it.

i.e. refilling the oyster card rather than have it automatically debit, which oyster apparently uses a UK bank to do.

He can't join the gym at his work until he has a UK bank...so, these are just the reasons why we need the UK bank, versus doing the cash only thing or our US cc.

We've been looking into First Direct as a banking option as well, glad to know you had a good experience with it.


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