My career at Microsoft is advancing really well, and I may be handpicked to an overseas assignment with greater responsibilities later this year. It is, for sure, a good career move, but there are also lots of financial moving parts to deal with. It will make my summer really, really busy ...
Why? Here is an incomplete list of open (financial) issues I need to work on:
• The Package: As a starter, it is going to be an interesting experience to negotiate/work out the compensation package. Besides the relocation benefits and allowance, I also need to cover my base on tax and insurance.
• Sell or Lease? The assignment is going to be for about two years, so one major question is how I should deal with my current house -- I bought it two years ago at $315,000; it is worth about $390,000 now. Should I speculate on continuing appreciation, or quit before the alleged housing bubble bursts?
• How to Sell or Lease? If I choose to sell, hopefully my package will cover the close costs. Otherwise, I might need to explore options like for-sale-by-owner (FSBO). Also, if I decide to lease out, I need to figure out the new territory of being a landlord.
• Rent or Buy? The classic question will apply to my destination city (which I don't want to reveal for now). The city has undergone a spectacular housing boom in the last three years with housing price growth matching that of hot Californian markets. On the other hand, rent is relatively cheap. How should I decide?
• Retirement Savings: Now that I will have no access to 401(k) plan and alike, how should I seek the best tax treatment for my retirement savings?
• Investments in an International Context: With dollar in its downward channel, how should I position my investments (which is growing in size) in the global context?
• Tax: Now I need to deal with taxation in two countries. My package will probably provide professional tax assistance, but I might still need to plan proactively to get the best tax treatment.
• Insurance: I figured out I might need to boost our insurance coverage as we are going to deal with more risks on the other side of the ocean.
• 401(k) or IRA: I will have the option of rolling over my 401(k) balance to a self-directed IRA but there are pros and cons.
• Sell the Cars: This is almost the least of my worries, although I still need to find the next owners for my Bimmer and Camry.
So, what does it mean for PFBlog? In short, PFBlog is here to stay, at least until I amassed my first million. I don't see much logistic challenge to continue writing the blog from another corner of the globe. And as a plus, my content will be more relevant and more interesting too for several reasons:
First, in the short run, I can explore many personal finance areas that haven't been explored in the blogsphere -- any item in the above list can make a few good posts by itself.
Second, moving forward, I will still have a vested interest in keeping track of U.S.-side of personal finance issues as my 401(k)/IRA will stay and I need to deal with U.S. tax.
Third, I will be able to add more international color to the blog. I believe many opportunities exist to look at topics like dollar depreciation, worldwide housing boom from a different angle. I cannot wait for that.
(Anyway, there is still a chance that the move might not happen, and even it happens as expected, it will still be several months before I will blog from a different continent. So it will be business as usual for the time being.)