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What if you didn't get your offshore life organized before the end of 2012? It's not the end of the world for you either.

Setting up a diversified international life isn't a sprint. You don't have to complete it in a few weeks or by a specific date...although some dates are more important than others for specific things.

If you haven't taken your first step offshore yet, let 2013 be your starting point. As I recommended almost a year ago when launching this e-letter service, a bank account is the easiest place to begin. Even though many banks worldwide won't work with Americans any longer and it's harder all the time everywhere for an American to open a bank account, it is still possible. On this front, I do recommend you get moving.

Establishing that first bank account overseas will bring you piece of mind, because it will bring you options. Your bank account overseas could be a place to store some emergency cash, maybe in a different currency, for example.

Opening that first bank account offshore will do something else, as well. It will give you experience and the confidence to take your next steps.

My standby banking jurisdiction for simple and quick is Belize, as it is still possible to open an account in this country without a personal interview. You can simply fax or e-mail your documents. Another good option is First Caribbean, although they've recently implemented a minimum account balance of US$10,000. If your balance falls below that amount, you'll be charged a higher monthly fee. I've given up on Panama banks. If you're persistent, you may be able to open an account at one. Good luck.

Maybe the next step beyond a bank account overseas is a piece of property overseas. Having a place in another country where you could live if you decided you wanted to is a great safety net. Can also be a great vacation option...and an opportunity to generate cash flow. A condo on the beach that can be rented out when you're not using it can fulfill a number of agendas. Or perhaps a 5-acre parcel on a river with a small house fits your plan better. Whatever your ultimate objectives, a piece of property in another country can be a cornerstone to achieving them.

You can find low-cost properties that work for vacation and investment in Belize, Panama, Uruguay, Colombia, the Philippines, to name a few markets I'm focused on. The key is deciding where you personally want to spend time. Don't buy a property somewhere you aren't interested in visiting just because it's cheap. It will end up being the most expensive investment you've ever made.

The other flags--residency, citizenship, investments, asset protection, and, if it applies, business--can follow from there, and they will. Each successive move is easier than the ones before it.

The key is to get started. You have to plant one flag at a time, and each one will take time. So don't worry that you should have done something in 2012 but didn't. Make a move in 2013.

Lief SimonContinue Reading:

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Kathleen Peddicord

Kathleen Peddicord is the founder of the Live and Invest Overseas publishing group. With more than 25 years experience covering this beat, Kathleen reports daily on current opportunities for living, retiring, and investing overseas in her free e-letter.

Her book, How To Retire Overseas—Everything You Need To Know To Live Well Abroad For Less, was recently released by Penguin Books.

Read more here.

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