Join Date: Jul 2002
Thanked 4 Times in 4 Posts
Rep Power: 13
Chris, your dilemma is a common one among cruisers and there are many businesses, banks included, who will help you solve it.
Re: mail, you''ll be better served if you set up a method by which you can - eventually, even if only sporadically or rarely - retrieve all your accummulated mail. The USPS is willing at no cost to forward your mail for up to a year (don''t check ''Temporary'' on their Change of Address form, or it will be 6 months). When we''re next in town, we accept mail for a short spell and then resubmit the same form, getting another year''s forwarding. Even if a friend just drops it all in a cardboard box until you ask for it or stop by to retrieve it, that''s better than walking away from it.
''Banking'' usually means a combo of things once you shove off. Sometimes you''ll want to use a credit card (e.g. to rent a car to drive around an island). You''ll want to oversee, manage and perhaps rearrange your investments, plus move money to a more accessible place (e.g. where your ATM card can retrieve it for you). You''ll want the convenience of auto-payments where possible and auto-deposits (e.g. your tax refund). Ideally, you''d also want free phone access to your account manager (even when outside the U.S.) if you have a question about your funds, want to transfer money into your Roth IRA, challenge a charge on your credit card account, etc. IME banks aren''t great at offering all of these services, altho'' perhaps you''ve used one with whom you are so satisfied that starting your research there feels good. We have all the above services using a brokerage account (an AMA account) with T Rowe Price (www.troweprice.com) for $50/year. Because we''ve been out of the U.S. far more than in it these past 4 years - and not always where internet service is available and cheap - the collect calling option has been very helpful on occasion. We previously used a CMA Account with Merrill Lynch but, since we''re not active stock traders and appreciate the much better service we''ve found with TRP, we''ve been using them for over 15 years now. (For AMA services, you can reach them at 800 222-7002).
It sounds like you plan to go foreign. Don''t overlook the benefits of having/using a cell phone on occasion. The typical dodge in Europe is to buy a ''pay as you go'' phone which takes a SIM card. This makes the phone work wherever you are without any roaming charges, as you simply swap out SIM cards. We notice many SoPac cruisers end up using cells in NZ and OZ, also. With ''pay as you go'', it costs nothing if you aren''t using your phone. Our universal GSM phone cost $90 in Portugal, and we expect to use it many years.