Currency conversions, inflation, taxes, ...

I just had a friend ask some assorted "banking" questions. He is a Usano and is about to move to Mexico with his wife who is a Mexican Citizen. While this is not MX4US, a lot of the answer apply and, where they are different I will point them out.

Money Conversion: There is little problem converting USD to local currency. You can use your US debit card and get decent conversion rates, deposit USD checks in local accounts and do wire transfers.

Inflation: The value of the Quetzal (GTQ) against the USD is variable but with little change. In the time I have lived here the exchange rate has been in the 7.5 to 8 to one USD range. El Salvador and Panama use USD as their currency. I other countries in the region with the exception of Guatemala, the local currency has lost value against the USD.

Banking: Most Guatemala banks offer accounts in USD.

Taxes: Most taxes are in the form of VAT (Value Added Tax) and possibly property tax. Only the US and the Philippines tax foreign income.

Social Security: For Usanos, your Social Security benefits are based on your income in the highest 40 quarters of your work under Social Security. It doesn't matter when you acquired that income during total your working life. So, even if you only worked from age 21 to 30 and then left the SS system, you would earn benefits at retirement age based on those 10 years of income.

Banking for my spouse: A US banking institution will not "recognize" someone without an SSN. Which sucks but that is the way it works.