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THE TRANSATLANTIC MAGAZINE

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The #1 Thing You Can Do to Improve Expat Life Right Now

Carrie McKeegan argues that it’s important for Expats to have their voice heard for meaningful change to happen

Published on June 4, 2020

The events of 2020 have almost everyone — including expats — thinking differently about the future. We’re juggling the stress of Coronavirus health and safety concerns with financial worries as we guess about the long-term impact on the economy and society. Meanwhile, lockdowns have restricted travel and separated friends and family, leaving many feeling isolated. But these challenges create a unique opportunity to pivot together into a new future that improves the lives of all Americans abroad.

Right now, expat advocacy groups are working hard to make sure US citizens living overseas are not forgotten in upcoming legislation on taxes, the economy, healthcare, and more. To do their job, they need input from Americans living abroad to make sure they’re fighting for the right causes. This is especially critical in a US Presidential election year.

It’s up to all of us to create the kind of future that expats need and deserve. That’s why the best thing you can do to improve expat life is to make your voice heard. In a time when we are physically separated, I’d like to ask all US expats to seize this opportunity to connect.

Join expat advocacy groups, write your representatives in government, and vote in US elections. Become a part of the conversation on social media, in expat forums, and your local expat community in the UK. Participate in online surveys that collect data from thousands of expats. Some of these actions only take a few minutes but go a long way to promote expats’ interests. For instance, the results of last year’s Expat Opinion Survey were publicized by regional and national news outlets like CNBC and Yahoo! Finance—in addition to being published by expat advocacy groups.

But answering surveys and voicing your opinions isn’t just about promoting expat interests to US leadership. It’s about building community among as many as 9 million Americans. When survey results and individual stories are shared, expats can learn from each other’s experiences. We can raise awareness about important aspects of expat life — including everything from taxes to personal finance to the value of new cultural experiences. With this collective knowledge, we can work together to identify issues and propose better solutions.

When my husband, David McKeegan, and I started Greenback Expat Tax Services, we did it because we couldn’t find a solution for the headaches we experienced filing US taxes while living in the UK. While wrestling with the issue, it was easy to feel alone. However, once we found out how many other Americans abroad were struggling with the same problem, we were empowered to create a better solution — one that would allow our fellow expats to skip the hassle we had experienced. By communicating and listening to one another, we can continue to push incremental innovations that improve expat life for everyone.

That’s why, every year, we put out a survey to collect the opinions of expats everywhere. If you haven’t yet, please take five minutes to take the 2020 Expat Opinion Survey to share your thoughts. In doing so, you’ll help protect and promote the interests of Americans living in the UK and around the world. To thank you for making this important contribution, we’ll enter you to win a $1,000 Hotels.com gift card with no expiration date so you can use it anywhere, anytime.

As a community, expats have the knowledge, skill, and ability to effect positive, lasting change. With transformation on the horizon in 2020, it’s time for all expats to speak out on the issues that will shape the future of life abroad.

Carrie McKeegan, MBA is the CEO of Greenback Expat Tax Services, a long-term expat, parent, and travel lover. After spending 15 years in corporate roles in New York and London, Carrie and her husband David McKeegan co-founded Greenback Expat Tax Services—a company that provides hassle-free tax preparation to Americans living in the UK and around the world. While filing US taxes overseas can feel daunting, Greenback believes all expats deserve a simple solution that helps them enjoy their adventures abroad. Learn more at greenbacktaxservices.com.

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