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It looks like I will be making the move and going to France in January to study French for a while (at least a year). I'll be coming from the US, and as we know, the Dollar to Euro is pretty bad. If it is possible, I was thinking that the best way to do things would be to open a bank account there in dollars, and then exchange from dollars to euros as i need to in the hopes that the rate gets better in the future rather than exchange it all at once. Is this possible? What do you all think? How did others handle the situation? Thanks guys.
 

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You definitely will need a local bank account, but you may find that a dollar account is more problem than it is worth.

What costs is the transfer of money from the US to France. They normally hit you with a fee on both ends, based on a percentage of the amount transferred, but with a minimum amount. So you wind up having to transfer a minimum of a few thousand (dollars or euros) at a time.

You can normally get a better exchange rate on a large bank to bank transfer than you can on exchanging small amounts in France. Better to plan on making a transfer no more often than once a quarter - and if there is any significant movement of the exchange rate, you'll catch it. (However, that can cut both ways. Just ask anyone from the US who is retired in France and watching their social security payments change.)
Cheers,
Bev
 
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Another issue is interest rates. If any sizeable dollar sum is invested in a foreign currency account abroad, you often get negligible interest compared to investments in the local currency.

Mind you, with interest rates at the level they are today, it wouldn't make much difference!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
You definitely will need a local bank account, but you may find that a dollar account is more problem than it is worth.

What costs is the transfer of money from the US to France. They normally hit you with a fee on both ends, based on a percentage of the amount transferred, but with a minimum amount. So you wind up having to transfer a minimum of a few thousand (dollars or euros) at a time.

You can normally get a better exchange rate on a large bank to bank transfer than you can on exchanging small amounts in France. Better to plan on making a transfer no more often than once a quarter - and if there is any significant movement of the exchange rate, you'll catch it. (However, that can cut both ways. Just ask anyone from the US who is retired in France and watching their social security payments change.)
Cheers,
Bev
Thanks for the advice. How difficult is it to do a bank to bank transfer?
 

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Thanks for the advice. How difficult is it to do a bank to bank transfer?
Although I have Internet access to all my accounts, the banks require a physical letter in order to transfer bank to bank. My UK bank will accept a faxed letter (with signature), and I've always mailed them the original, just for their records.

For amounts over $5000 or $10,000 the US banks will require a "reason" for the transfer. That's for the US Treasury reporting requirement. No problem telling them the transfer is for "personal expenses" or something similar.

It's not quite as easy as making a transfer online, but generally you can have the money within a few days.
Cheers,
Bev
 
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