Nine Important Things To Consider When Moving Abroad
Deciding to move abroad is a huge decision and one that obviously shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s also a decision that requires careful thought followed by thorough preparation if you decide to definitely go ahead.
Here are some things to consider when moving abroad.
- Being certain emigrating is for you
It’s vital to ensure the decision to move abroad isn’t stemming from a possible knee jerk reaction. For example, if the summer in the UK was ruined by terrible weather or it’s been a long, harsh winter it’s tempting to consider moving somewhere where the climate is warmer. Is this reason enough to leave?
Perhaps the political situation or general ‘atmosphere’ is not to your liking in the UK? If so, is a move abroad the best antidote to this?
Even if a practical event has brought on thoughts of moving abroad – for example if you’ve had an overseas job offer, or maybe your partner lives overseas and you fancy trying out their country to live – it’s still important to think carefully.
Perhaps you already live abroad several months of the year and are considering making it permanent? For example, if you own or let a holiday home in Spain or Portugal long term, then assess fully whether you’d really like to live there year round.
It’s important to fully think over the decision and your reasons. If you take time and the urge to go abroad doesn’t subside then you’ll know you’re making the right decision.
- Money matters
Finances are a key consideration, of course, in that you’ll need income. If it’s from money sourced in the UK such pensions or savings, ensure you have an efficient and cost-effective way of accessing the money.
To this end, sort out in advance banking arrangements such as opening an account, and talk to your UK bank about how best to move money so you can access it when you move.
Also, is your new environment going to cost you more or less compared to how you’re living now? It’s all very well being paid a higher salary than your old UK job, but if the cost of living is higher will you be any better off?
Maybe this in itself isn’t a factor if your motivation is living somewhere new, or living costs are low where you’ll be moving to, but think carefully anyway and try to plan for every eventuality so you’re not caught out.
Similarly, will your pension – or pensions – and other savings provide a similar lifestyle to the one you have now?
Even everyday expenses can vary considerably from the UK to your proposed new country so do your homework. Health care is one major consideration; you may have to take out some kind of health insurance whereas in the UK we have the NHS.
Tied into ‘money matters’ above is assessing your savings situation; be realistic in considering if you have enough money saved up. Your move will likely cost more than you think and having a financial ‘buffer’ fund along with an amount you’ll need to cover known costs is important.
Larger one-off costs such as moving, legal fees, taxes and permits may be due and cost more than you’ve factored in. As for how much you should have saved up, advice varies from nine months of living costs to even two years.
Be aware too that you may naturally overspend to start with in your new country until you become familiar with how to save on expenses there; for example, where the best deals are, how to shop prudently and more. Budget for more at the start – but challenge yourself to get your costs down as time goes by.
Even the fittest of people with excellent health records need to ensure they can access and afford healthcare if they need it as no-one knows when it will be required.
Research carefully the healthcare provisions of your new country and whether you’ll need to take out some kind of healthcare plan. If so, understand how much you’ll be spending and factor this into your financial equations.
- Your belongings
Which of your belongings do you plan to take with you when you move abroad? Whether you’re keeping a UK residence or not, it’s important to go through your possessions to prioritise the things that you need to have with you and the things that don’t need to make the trip. Don’t be tempted to throw everything away to ‘start again’ when you’re there – this could easily lead to you spending an unnecessarily large amount when you first move abroad.
Consider storage options for any valuables that you want to safely keep tucked away so that they won’t get lost or damaged in the move – and for bigger items that you might want to take over once you’re settled and established in your new country.
- Distance from home
Even if you’ll be living a short hop across the channel from the UK, trips home to visit family and friends and for them to come to you suddenly need planning and paying for.
If you’ll be living further away – such as in another continent – then this is obviously even more pronounced. After the honeymoon period of living in a new country has subsided, consider the implications of living possibly thousands of miles from your family and friends in the UK.
Also, be prepared for time differences in communicating. It’s true that nowadays we have technology such as cheap phone calls, FaceTime and Skype to keep in touch but you may find yourself getting up in the middle of the night to talk to people back home – and it’s the same for them when matching your daytime hours.
- Speaking the language
Many people with English as their first language become rather complacent when it comes to communicating with people from other countries since many natives speak English.
The view that “so many people know English so I’ll be alright” or “I’ll pick the new language up as I go along” is inviting potential difficulties.
Away from the tourist environments and hotel staff not everyone speaks good or even much English – so you could be making life awkward when dealing with everyday matters such as conversing with tradesmen, some legal people and others.
It’s also going to be much easier to integrate with your new community if you can speak their language – and people will respond better towards you if you’re making the effort to speak to them in their native tongue.
Unless you’re retired or have been offered a job – perhaps that’s the reason you’re considering moving abroad – then you clearly have to think about work as in securing it, making a success of your career, and your general working life abroad.
If having to find work is part of the process you’ll be going through, then examine your options carefully in terms of what you could do:
- Is there a demand for your skills?
- If so, will you be rewarded sufficiently to achieve a certain standard of living?
- Will your qualifications be recognised by potential employers abroad?
- Do you need a work permit?
- If so, what is the procedure for obtaining one?
One way of doing useful research is making contact with people working in your field in the country you’re intending to move to; even better if they’re expats just like you.
Perhaps they’ll take a look at your CV and advise if you might need more training, or even give you some ideas regarding where to go and who to approach regarding finding work or getting further help.
- Doing the groundwork and managing your expectations
Among the many important things to consider when moving abroad is managing your own expectations.
Find out as much as possible regarding the practical aspects of living in your intended country and also what it’s like on a day to day basis.
- Visit your intended country as often as you can – at various times of the year and not just during the best weather months
- Talk to other expats living there both online via forums and social media groups and offline if possible
- When you visit, talk to locals properly about what it’s like to live there
- Don’t expect it to be all positives; the key is to balance the advantages you’ve considered against any negatives
Take your time deciding
From deciding you’d like to move somewhere abroad – even if you know exactly whereabouts – the process for fully thinking it through and actually setting off to live there can be a long one and you may feel tempted to rush.
Avoid this at all costs; consider all of the above when moving abroad and then develop and follow a practical plan to achieve it.