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What is an expat? Starting your expat life: Tips and features to help you settle in

If you’re moving abroad for your dream job, or simply for a change of scenery, then this is the guide you need! We’ve gathered tips and features to help you start off your new life on the right foot.

4 min read

Leaving your hometown to gain international experience or start a new job in a foreign country is a big, exciting step. It’ll definitely reward you with many new experiences and insights—but if you haven’t spent much time in a foreign culture or mastered the local language yet, moving abroad can also be challenging. In this guide, you’ll learn what it means to be an expat and how our N26 features can help you transition into your new life more easily. Ready? Let’s go! 

What’s an expat?

First, let’s clarify the term “expat.” Even though the word is widely used, some people might not know where it comes from. Expat is an abbreviation of expatriate and, broadly speaking, describes people who are living outside their country of origin. This can be the case, for instance, if you’re transferring to a foreign branch of your current workplace to continue your job from there. But you can also describe yourself as an expat if you’re settling in another country long-term. 

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What do I need to consider when moving abroad as a German expat? 

Ready to take the leap and move abroad as an expat? If so, you should first ask yourself a few questions, such as: 

  • Which tax laws apply to me if I plan to work from another country for more than six months?
  • What expenses should I expect when moving to another country?
  • Will I work at a foreign branch of my current employer or do I need to look for a job? 
  • Which types of insurance should I consider getting?
  • Do I need a work permit in order to work from another country?
  • Do I have an emergency fund in case things don’t go as planned?
  • Have I already been to the country and do I know the local language? Or can I get by with English?

Another newer term for people who work from abroad is “digital nomad,” although there are some key differences between expats and digital nomads. In this article, you’ll learn more about working as a digital nomad and what to consider. If you want to travel for a longer period of time but you’re not planning to work while you’re away, a sabbatical leave might be the right option for you. Whatever you decide, prepare well for your stay abroad so you don’t wind up in any sticky situations. You want to be able to enjoy your time and soak it all in!

How N26 can make your expat life easier

Pay worldwide without fees

As an expat, you have more than one home, so you probably also use your debit card in different countries. This might get expensive in the long-term if you’re charged a fee for every transaction, whether you’re going for an after-work beer or buying your weekly groceries. Luckily, this isn’t a problem with N26, since you’ll benefit from unlimited, no-fee payments—no matter which currency.  

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Keep track of your spending with N26 Insights

Especially at the beginning of your new life, things might get a little overwhelming. So, it’s no surprise if you lose track of your finances—that’s where N26 Insights comes to the rescue. This innovative tool automatically categorizes your spending, so you can see exactly where your money goes and stay on top of your finances. 

With Insights right there in your N26 app, you can compare your current spending behavior to your average expenses over the past three months. Plus, the new Monthly Wrap-Up feature gives you a complete and practical overview of your last month’s spending, so you can adjust your spending behavior in real time. And if you want to put some savings aside—say, to grow your emergency fund—as a premium customer, you can simply drag-and-drop money into one of your Spaces sub-accounts.   

Discover our blog to learn about taxes in Germany and more

So, you’re an expat living in Germany? Then take a look at our blog! We have all kinds of helpful guides on taxes, such as what to declare, which deadlines to keep in mind, and the kinds of taxes in Germany (there are more than 40, by the way). And in this article, we take a closer look at typical insurance policies in Germany.

Working as a freelancer? Discover the most important facts here about managing your finances. Or are you studying in Germany? Then check out our student guides. Whatever your situation is, you’ll find helpful articles on our blog with tips to make your life easier. By the way: all our articles are available in German, too. Simply change the language setting (in the website menu at the top left) if you want to practice your language skills! 

Enjoy banking that truly fits your life

Not in the mood for long wait times or mountains of paperwork? Simply discover the mobile bank account that fits you and your lifestyle. Our premium plans offer a number of handy features to help make your daily life easier. Save automatically with Round-Ups or create your own Spaces sub-accounts to reach your next savings goal. Managing your finances can be just that simple. Enjoy easy and stress-free banking with N26! 


At N26, we’ve taken the red tape out of opening a bank account in Germany. Open an online account in minutes—all you’ll need is your smartphone, a valid address in Germany, and a valid photo ID. You’ll get an official German IBAN, so you can pay and be paid like a local. Plus, there are no hidden fees and you’ll always have access to English-speaking customer service, so you can focus on settling in to your new home.

By N26

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