For Australians living abroad, there’s Wise


After getting his doctorate in the UK, Sydney-born Tony Erben moved to the US, where he now heads the Department of Education at a university in Florida. As an Australian living abroad, Tony needed to find a solution for his international finances. From managing his pension to sending money home to his kids, Tony explains how Wise has helped him manage his life between countries.

Wise blew me out of the water. It's been a gem of a tool.

I left Australia to study in the UK and eventually ended up here in the US with my wife. Our kids were born here, but two of them decided to go to university in Australia, which is where they’re still based. We also have a lot of extended family in Europe and South America, so naturally we travel a lot.

One of the big challenges of living internationally is managing your finances. For example, we send money to our kids in Australia. It was a huge pain using my bank to transfer money overseas. Banks are b****s. The hidden fees that they charge and the bad exchange rates they give you are very unfair. You have to look very close to understand how much money they’re taking — I wasted so much time and money. I also tried using Western Union and while that was cheaper than my bank, it was still fairly expensive, and they gave me a bad exchange rate. It also wasn’t user-friendly.

In 2015 I found Wise, and I’ve been using it ever since. Wise blew me out of the water. It was so easy to use. Even if you’re less tech-savvy, you won’t have any issues. I started using it to send money to my kids when they were studying in Australia. I’ve saved hundreds of dollars since switching — at least $800. It’s been a godsend.

Before, if I sent $200 through my bank, it would cost me $40. With Wise, it’s only $10 and its exchange rate is much better. My wife and I are retiring soon. We’ll use Wise to access the money from my Australian superannuation and send it over to Tampa to pay for home renovations (we’re getting a pool for the grandkids, which is exciting!).

Managing your finances internationally is so important.

My advice to people moving abroad would be to understand how to look after your money in different countries. For example, if you live in America but still have revenue in Australia, that income is taxable in the US. Similarly, if you have superannuation or a bank account abroad, you need to declare it here. There are a lot of good foreign tax accountants who can help understand all of these requirements.

With retirement coming up, my wife and I have been thinking about these financial issues a lot. With finances here and in Australia, there’s a lot to manage. For example, I have social security here, but I also have my superannuation over from Australia. I’ll need to transfer that over here to help pay the bills. Wise will make it easier to manage it all in a few clicks, instead of dealing with banks. I definitely recommend it to anyone.

There are things I miss about Australia. I’d love to see the kids more. That distance has been especially tough since the pandemic. I also miss the Sydney lifestyle. I loved sitting on the esplanade in Manly, and eating good fish and chips — and then there are the small things like twisties and vegemite, of course!

But I would recommend living in a new country to anyone. It makes you think differently about the world. You see the diversity in humanity and it gives you a more open mindset. It’s hard sometimes, but it really is worth it.

Wise is proud to help people manage their finances all over the world - for less money and with less stress. We're here to make living a borderless life easy. Join our 11 million customers at, or through our Android or iOS app.

As told by Chris Hockman and Sandy Choephel. Photography by Eve Edelheit.

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