Moving abroad is an exciting opportunity to immerse yourself in a new culture! But before you jump into a new country, it’s important to make sure you’ve taken care of of things back home.
For recent graduates, a big part of preparing to move to China is making sure you are still able pay your student loans. This leads to a few big questions: Do you need to pay your student loans while you’re abroad? If your Chinese employer pays you in your Chinese bank account, how can you pay your student loans from China?
We’ll answer these questions and more here!
Yes! Unfortunately, student loans don’t just disappear if you move abroad. Unless you are able to defer your loans or make arrangements with your loan provider, you will need to make your monthly payments the same as you would if you stayed in your own country. Make sure you’ve carefully read your loan agreements and understand what your monthly payment plan is before you move abroad.
When you work in China, your employer will pay you directly in your Chinese bank account. Transferring money back home from China can be a bit tricky, but it is definitely possible and expats in China do this all the time. A big part of how you send money home will depend on your own home bank and what country you’re from.
It’s also important to know that China has some strict regulations on transferring money out of the country – you need to prove that you’ve paid your necessary taxes here if you’re wiring money through your Chinese bank.
“I pay my student loans via direct debit on my British bank card. I fund the card using Paypal transfers. Getting the evidence from my employers and sending it via post to student loans is relatively simple. If there are any issues, the calls are free to reach student loans service advisers. They want updates each year and amend your payment accordingly. Bit of a pain but has to be done.” – Johnny B.
“I did not have any debt when coming to China although I have sent money to the UK upon leaving China recently. The best way I found is to do it via bank wire transfer . You need to go to the tax office and obtain a tax clearance, your contract from your school and your bank card. Go into the bank with these documents and they will transfer the funds directly to your chosen country using your bank’s swift code.” – Charlise R.
“I use direct deposit to pay off my student loans. It is connected to my US bank account. The best way for Americans to get money home is to exchange it at the bank and then send through Western Union. The fees from Western Union are very cheap. My parents get the money and then put it in my account.” – Sam M.
“I’m using a program called Swapsy now to exchange my money which has saved me literally hundreds of dollars. After I transfer my money to my American bank account, I go to the loan borrower website and pay them how I normally would.” – Brooke M.
Ultimately, how you send money home will depend on your own home bank, what country you’re from, how quickly you need to send the money, and the fees you're willing to pay. Research which method is best for you and your situation.
Here’s a few tips to help you make the most of living in China and still pay off your student loans:
Making a budget will help you see exactly where your money is going and help you make goals for your spending habits. Check out the average salary of an ESL teacher in China to help you start budgeting ahead of time.
It’s fun to treat yourself to nicer Western meals and nights out sometimes, but if you stick to more local restaurants and shops in China, its possible to live cheaply and not spend so much on food and shopping.
If you want to pay off your debt more quickly, try sending money home on a regular basis. Don’t wait several months to start the process – you don’t want to be late making payments or have your student debt slip your mind. Sending money home regularly will help you get in the habit of paying loans.
It is good to have some money left in your account when you leave for China as an emergency stash, just in case there is an issue with a transfer one month or if policy changes for some reason.
Don’t let your student loans stop you from making the leap abroad! The low cost of living in China makes it possible for many teachers to live comfortably, travel, and still pay off student loans. Learn more about the cost of living in China here!
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Some advice from current expats on how to transfer money to your home country from China