Introduction to Living Abroad
Living abroad is a dream come true for many expats fed up with the daily grind, but it’s no good moving overseas if you are just going to swop one lot of problems with more of the same in another country.
Moving home is always an uncertain time, and even more so when the move is halfway around the world.
Just take a minute to consider some important questions before making that final decision.
Why are you moving?
The reasons include for work, for family, to ease finances or just for a change and better weather. Whatever they are, think about the cost of living, healthcare, schools if you have children, transport costs and the hidden costs of living you do not see as a tourist or visitor.
These costs include direct and indirect taxes on salary, capital gains and property.
Currency exchange fluctuations can make a big dent in a fixed income if a pension is paid in Sterling and needs converting to Euros or US dollars.
Fix your finances
Open a local bank account for your salary and to pay the bills. don’t forget most British insurance policies are void if you live overseas, so you will need car insurance, home cover, expat health and life policies and all the other financial products and services you had at home.
Taking an overseas contract
Don’t only check what’s included - look at what’s left out. In the UK - you do not pay for healthcare or a state pension and these are expensive benefits to replace. Look at the salary - it may be competitive in the UK, but does it cover what you need to spend to maintain a similar standard of living overseas?
Check out immigration laws
Not only should you submit the right forms and supporting documents in the country where you intend to move, but you must file paperwork with HM Revenue & Customs when you leave the UK. If you are moving abroad permanently, make sure you do not continue to qualify as UK resident for tax.
Organise your move
Do not leave packing until the last minute. Make sure you have a survival bag in case everything else is delayed or lost. The emergency kit should contain contact numbers for relatives, doctors, passports and other official documents.
Try renting before you buy
It’s easy to find that special home - but a place that seems idyllic can turn in to a nightmare if you have to drive 10 miles for milk and bread and is cut off from the world every time heavy rain falls. Think about the winter, too. Ice and snow in mountain regions can mean you are cut off for days on end.
Many expats move their belongings in to storage and rent before they buy to experience the expat life for a while.
Keep in touch
It’s easy to think you are on your own - but keeping in touch with friends and family back in Britain can ease homesickness and sharing problems lightens the load. Online messaging services like Skype make contact easy at any time.