Today we have a guest blog by Alex, with some excellent tips on preparing to make the big move.
Moving overseas is one of the most rewarding challenges anyone can face. But it is just that; a challenge. If you thought moving to a new house a few streets away was stressful, add language barriers, cultural differences, homesickness and paperwork (so much paperwork) to the experience.
Visit before you Relocate
Unless you’re picking up a map, closing your eyes and choosing a place at random, we’ll assume that you’re at least somewhat familiar with your new country.
However, it’s always helpful to pay a short visit before you pack your bags for good. Take a week or two to get to know the local area. You can check out the amenities, arrange a tour of the schools and meet your new colleagues if you’re relocating for work. You can also scope out the best areas to live – and the areas to avoid!
Organise your Visas in Advance
We’ve all heard the visa horror stories. We know the experience of arranging one can be a bureaucratic nightmare. Don’t let that happen to you.
Know exactly what visas or documentation you need to enter, live and work in a country and apply in good time. Don’t wait until you’ve entered the country and definitely do not try to wing it.
What you need to do will depend on where you’re relocating to, but as a general guide:
- British citizens don’t need a visa to move to countries in the European Union (EU)
- But it can be difficult getting the paperwork for countries further afield (like America or Australia)
- You may be able to take a working holiday. If not you may need to be sponsored by your employer or have a skill which is in demand.
- Full visa information can be found on the country’s Embassy website.
Culture shock is a very real thing. You can help avoid it by doing all you can to learn about your new country from afar.
Things you’ll want to know before you move include; languages spoken, currency, cost of living, local customs and laws. You may also want to research a bit about the area and neighbouring regions – things to do and see.
There are numerous resources online; blogs, forums and expat websites are a great place to start.
Organise your Finances
Do you need to open a new bank account, cancel direct debits and standing orders and set up new bill payments? What will you do with savings/pensions or investments?
You’re also going to need to convert large amount of money into the local currency. And you may want to arrange payments from one country to another (for example withdrawing pensions, or paying a mortgage back home). A foreign exchange broker can help you with the nitty-gritty of these jobs, and they usually offer much better exchange rates than your bank.
It’s a lot to think about, but if you can arrange these things before you move it will take the pressure off.
Save at Least 3 Months Expenses
This is a wise thing to do even if you’re relocating for a job and a guaranteed income. If you’re planning to start the job hunt when you arrive, you will definitely need some savings.
Having at least three months expenses provides you with a buffer if the job hunt takes longer, or any emergencies crop up. It also takes some of the stress out of those early weeks in a new country, and gives you the freedom to enjoy yourself.
You’ll need to work out the cost of living in your new country and make a list of all your bills. You’ll likely need to cover rent/mortgage, utilities, phone and internet, groceries, school fees (if any), health care and travel. Then you’ll want some spending money on top of that – a fun fund, if you will. When you’ve worked out that number, add about 10% to cover any unexpected costs.
Plan for the Unexpected
Failure to prepare is preparing to fail!
You can’t plan for every eventuality but you can make sure you have insurance, an emergency fund and extra copies of your most important paperwork.
Some of the most common issues faced by expats are financial; unexpected health costs, a house purchase gone wrong or unemployment. Do your research, take out comprehensive health insurance to cover your entire family and don’t rush into buying property.
Being prepared will help ensure your relocation is the exciting, fulfilling experience it should be. We hope these tips help you with your move abroad!