Moving abroad changes your life, and it’s no easy task, either. But considering several factors before relocating — including finances, property, and healthcare — certainly takes off the pressure from your impending move.
Moving abroad is a huge, life-altering decision with many moving parts and a lengthy list of to-do items. Regardless of the reasons 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 covers some of the main things to consider. It’s aimed at helping you get those gears in motion and start making your new dream life a reality.
Financing your move: 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 on moving abroad, 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 come to grips with, but a little research goes a long way. Note average food costs, rent rates, mortgage costs, and utility expenses. 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 (especially if you have an especially flexible pension scheme, such as the British one), 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 pension overseas, you may wish to look into the most cost-effective means of going about this.
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, and what you plan to do with your previous home.
Some choose to use their previous residence as a holiday home; however, this requires strong financial positioning. An alternative to this is renting out your home, which you can do either through an estate agent or directly 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’re in the position to buy property, look into getting a mortgage or loan. Contacting solicitors and estate agents near your destination is essential. Get in contact with industry experts who can help you navigate issues like the language barrier.
Tax issues are also an essential issue. This may sound like a headache, but the sooner you get it sorted the quicker it’ll be out of the way!
Healthcare: staying covered while moving abroad
As your moving abroad comes with new health risks, how you’re going to look after yourself in the event of sickness is another key priority. Some countries provide basic healthcare to residents, but many will require you to purchase private health insurance. This option may be particularly important to those who require specialist treatment. It could even be valuable in a country with state-provided healthcare if certain things are not covered.
Some medication may no longer be available to you in your country of choice. As a result, it’s important to find alternatives or make sure the place you’re moving to accommodates your health needs. If it doesn’t, you may need to arrange stocking up on medication with your old doctor 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 revamp your diet to accustom yourself to a new set of cultural dishes? A little bit of research into these areas can make it far easier to settle in.
Cash: currency exchange and currency brokers
Before you think about the kind of high-tech bank account you open up, you’ll need to plot out how your cash gets to your new home in the first place. Depending on your circumstances, you’ll probably need to send money overseas before you move; you might even need to do so on a regular basis once you arrive.
While using the currency exchange services of a well-known high street bank is an option, you’ll find they levy transfer fees and offer less competitive exchange rates. Look into the services of currency brokers; compare exchange rates 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 favorable 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 large transfers, looking into your options early on could see you enjoy significant savings.
Companies offering international banking services and international money transfers include:
- CurrencyFair offers money transfers to over 150 countries and have exchange rates up to eight times cheaper than the banks, helping you avoid excessive bank fees.
- MoneyCorp offers foreign exchange and global payment services to individual and corporate customers in over 120 currencies.
- Rewire offers a cross-border bank account for internationals from India, Nigeria, and the Philippines living in Europe. Services include a free euro account, a smartphone app, and international transfers at a rate 60% cheaper than standard banks.
- TransferWise is an international money transfer provider available in 59 countries that offers transfers between cross-border bank accounts up to eight times cheaper than traditional banks.
- Worldfirst are experts in foreign exchange. They have award-winning customer service and promise no hidden transfer fees.
The rest of moving abroad: languages, education, pets, and more
Now that you have a grasp of the main financial issues, it’s time to look at more general concerns. Everyone has their own needs; these must be met in order for moving abroad to be successful. Maybe you have lifestyle concerns, or perhaps you need to consider moving to a LGBT-friendly country. Make a note of all the little points you need to tick off your list before moving abroad with confidence.
For those moving abroad with children, consider their current educational situation; making the move during a critical period could disrupt their education. 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?
Speaking of a language barrier, having some basic understanding of the language spoken in your new home helps. Expecting locals to understand you without making any effort to pick up the native tongue will alienate you; you’ll feel like a permanent tourist in what is supposed to be your new home. Even understanding the basics goes a long way to helping you learn the language; it’s well worth investing a bit of time in this area.
There are many other concerns you may have, perhaps regarding things such as your pets. Soon-to-be expats may also want to look into local services like the local train services, mobile phones, and Internet access.
After acquainting yourself with your new home, you’ll be in a far better position to understand what to expect from your new life. All that’s left now is to wish you the best of luck with your life-changing journey!