Guide to relocating overseas: Important things to consider
Moving your life overseas is no easy task but considering several factors before relocating — like finances, property and healthcare among others — certainly takes off the pressure from your impending move.
Choosing whether or not to move abroad is often a huge, life-changing decision. However, regardless of the reasons a person has for making the change, it’s important to put time into planning how to manage the most important issues before embarking on the adventure.
If you’re not sure where to start, this short guide from TorFX covers some of the main things to consider and is aimed at helping you get those gears in motion and begin making your new dream life a reality.
Financing your move: are you finding work or receiving a pension?
One of life's most important considerations, no matter where you live in the world, is getting your finances in order. If you’re planning a move overseas you need to know how you’re going to support yourself. One of the first things to look into is how the cost of living in your destination country compares to where you live now.
It can feel like a stressful subject to get to grips with, but a little research into the area you’re interested in moving to could go a long way. Note down average food costs, rent or mortgage costs and utility expenses and make a tally of the results. If you’re going to need a job overseas you also need to research the local job market to make sure you’re not moving somewhere where it’s extremely difficult to find work as an expat. Does the area have sectors that value the language(s) you speak? Is it welcoming to immigrant workers? Is the unemployment rate high?
For those looking to retire abroad, it’s important to have your finances in place in order to live comfortably. Being able to access your pension with ease is key to this. If you’re planning to transfer your UK pension overseas, you may wish to look into the most cost-effective means of going about this.
Additionally, some countries have a special relationship with the UK, so in regions like the US, European Union and Jamaica you may be able to benefit from existing state pension systems.
Property: buying, renting and selling
The next most obvious area to look into is where exactly you’ll be living, whether you plan to rent or buy a property and what you plan to do with your previous residence.
Some may choose to use their previous residence as a holiday home, but this would of course require being in a strong financial position. An alternative to this is renting out your previous residence, which you can do through an estate agent or handle yourself. This is a common choice for first-time expats, as some want the security of having a place to return to in case they decide the expat life is not for them. However, you may find that you need to sell your existing property to finance your emigration. If that is the case, getting your property listed long before you hope to move is essential, as is having a contingency plan in place if your property sells more quickly than you expected, or fails to sell in time.
If you aren’t in the position where you’d be able to afford to buy a foreign property outright you, may want to look into your options for getting a domestic/foreign mortgage, or a loan in the country you plan to move to. Contacting solicitors and estate agents near your destination is essential, as is being in contact with industry experts who can help you navigate issues like the language barrier.
Tax issues also need to be attended to. The HMRC in the UK will help you with tax requirements for leaving the nation and point you in the right direction for getting yourself set up overseas. This may sound like a headache, but the sooner you get it sorted the quicker it’ll be out of the way!
As you move to a new country with new health risks, how you’re going to look after yourself in the event of sickness is another key priority. Some nations provide basic state healthcare to expats but many will require you to purchase private health insurance. This option may be particularly important to those who require specialist treatment, and could be valuable even in a nation with basic state healthcare.
Some medication may no longer be available to you in your country of choice, and as a result it’s important to research alternatives or make sure the place you’re moving to can accommodate your long-term health needs. If it doesn’t, you may need to arrange stocking up on medication with your old GP every few months.
Other basic health concerns include how the change in food might affect you and whether environmental factors need to be taken into account. Will you need to change your dress style for a change in temperature? Or revolutionise your diet to grow accustomed to a new set of cultural dishes? A little bit of research into these areas can make it far easier to settle in.
Currency exchange and currency brokers
Depending on your circumstances, you’ll probably need to send money overseas before you move, and potentially on a regular basis once you arrive. For example, a private pension paid into a UK bank account would require those funds to be exchanged on a monthly basis.
While using the currency exchange services of a well-known high street bank is an option, you may find that they levy transfer fees and offer less competitive exchange rates than some other providers. It could prove beneficial to look into the services provided by currency brokers and do a rate comparison to see who can give you the best deal.
With some currency brokers you can benefit from having access to a range of services, from fixing a favourable exchange rate for up to two years in advance of a trade to setting a minimum rate at which you’re happy for your transfer to be made. They may also have advisors on hand to help you along the way and provide insight into the latest exchange rate movements and currency trends.
If you plan to make a large currency transfer, looking into your options early on could see you enjoy significant savings.
The rest: languages, education, pets and more
Now that you have a grasp of some of the main financial issues you need to consider, it’s time to look at some of your more general requirements and concerns. Everyone is certain to have their own needs, which have to be met in order for an overseas relocation to be successful, and it’s worth making a note of all the little points you need to tick off your list before you can more abroad with confidence.
For those moving abroad with children, considering their current educational situation is likely to be a priority, as is making the move during a period that would disrupt their education the least. Of course, this means researching the education system in your preferred emigration location. Is it easily accessible to expats? Is it affordable for you and will your children fit in despite a potential language barrier?
And speaking of a language barrier, having some basic understanding of the language spoken in your new home would certainly help you settle in. Expecting the populace of your adopted nation to be able to understand you without making any effort to pick up the native tongue may alienate you and cause you to feel like a permanent tourist in what is supposed to be your new home. Even understanding the bare basics of how to communicate in a new language can go a long way to helping you eventually learn the rest, so it’s well worth investing a bit of time in this area.
There are of course many other concerns you may have, such as if you can take your pets with you and how to transport them safely. Soon-to-be expats may also want to look into local services like transport, mobile phone usage and internet access.
After taking the time to acquaint yourself fully with your new home, you’ll be in a far better position to understand what to expect from your new life. For those nervous about making the move abroad, there are many resources available to help you answer miscellaneous questions you may have. Explore the extensive backlog of country-specific articles on Expatica and sign up for expat forums if you want to make connections with people in similar circumstances.
All that’s left now is to wish you the best of luck with your life-changing journey!
TorFX / Expatica
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