Relocating to another country is almost synonymous with being born all over again. It can be daunting to move to a whole new place with a different way of doing things. However if you are travelling fully aware and prepared, the experience can be truly enriching.
So how exactly do you prepare for an overseas move? Even when the thought alone is overwhelming, it is best to get started as early as possible. Remember, the earlier you start getting ready, the more time you have to do what you have to do.
Your Moving Abroad Preparation Checklist
A checklist of things to prepare is a great way to get started so you don’t forget anything, and the following will be its most essential points: visa, employment, health insurance, driving license, housing/renting, banking, money and taxes, education, relocation services.
It may seem obvious that you need to get a visa where you’re relocating, but the point is to get the right visa. Have a clear plan about what visas you need during your relocation and be aware of the immigration standards and restrictions in the country of relocation. The last thing you want is to be sent back home because you didn’t have the correct visa.
Finding employment will be another point to consider when organizing visas. Many people move abroad for job-related reasons, which not only helps with your visa status but allows you to achieve financial security while abroad. The cost and standard of living in your new city could be quite different to what you are used to, so keep that in mind since you need to be sure your new salary can cover your expenses. By securing the right job, you can be assured of adequate regular income to enjoy your new home.
Finding cost-efficient access to health services overseas could become a problem if you are not adequately covered as a non-citizen, so getting the right health insurance abroad will go a long way. After your relocation you could opt for either local or expat healthcare plans.
Local plans are generally cheaper compared to international insurance but will only cover you in the country where you have relocated and are often not as comprehensive. Whereas an international health insurance will offer coverage in multiple countries as you relocate and will usually have a higher level of cover. Additionally if you move to a country with substandard medical services and facilities, an expat medical insurance policy could be a lifesaver if you have medical evacuation or repatriation benefits.
If you are intending to drive in your destination country, you may need to get an international driver’s license. You can always apply for one locally, but if you like the flexibility of being able to drive wherever you end up moving, an international driving permit is a good thing to have.
Each country has different rules and regulations in terms of licensing and driving, therefore you should always make yourself aware of them so you don’t end up in trouble with local transportation authorities.
One of the most basic aspects of moving preparations is finding a place to live. Unless this aspect is taken care of by your employer, you will have to look for a place to stay yourself. There are various methods for searching and the most effective means can vary depending on your location. However the internet has become an increasingly popular search platform with an assortment of websites dedicated to property and rental listings. Enlisting the services of a property agent is also a preferred method, especially if you don’t have much time to spend on doing research yourself.
It is also important to note your rights as a foreigner before looking into buying property, as many countries will have purchase restrictions for non-citizens. For example you may only be able to buy certain structures such as condominiums, townhouses, etc… Some countries will not even allow full property ownership to non-citizens. So always check the country’s real estate laws, if you don’t want to end up wasting time and energy.
You may only plan to rent, but you will still need to get to know the rules beforehand. For instance, find out about landlord-tenant relationships in your new country. Know what fees you have to pay upfront, your rights and responsibilities as a tenant and how long rental contracts usually cover. Make sure you read contracts carefully before signing to ensure no unexpected surprises pop up.
Money, Banking, Pension Schemes and Taxes
Before you get on that flight to your destination country, it is good to have some of the local currency to get around easily. International airports almost always have currency exchange booths accessible, but you can also check out banks or other exchange bureaus for better rates.
Setting up a bank account, whether it is a local or international account, is important so you can transfer money abroad to ensure your funds are available to you whenever you need it.
If you’re a pensioner, look around for schemes that can make you enjoy your pension with more benefits, such as the Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Scheme. QROPS allows UK pensioners to pay reduced taxes and have more flexible investment options.
As for taxes in general, ensure that everything has been properly settled with authorities in your home country before leaving. Again, this is especially important if your home government requires you to continue paying taxes to them while you’re abroad. You also have to know what local taxes you are required to pay in your new country and when to avoid penalties. Often expats will hire a tax specialist to handle this job to ensure peace of mind that it is done properly.
If you are moving abroad with school-age children, you will need to consider their educational needs. When possible, time your relocation so that you minimize disruptions to their schooling. There are education advisory services that you can find online and they can give you all the information you need, from educational costs to choices of schools and everything in between.
Many expats prefer to enroll their children in international schools because these institutions are specially designed to meet the demands of multicultural students and education. However with the continuing technological advancements, online schooling is another option which provides much more flexibility to those who move around a lot.
You may already have good knowledge of what you need as you prepare to move abroad, but at some point or another, you may have to consider professional relocation services. This is especially true when you’re moving with your entire family.
Relocation companies nowadays are not just moving and packing services, they offer an extensive range of benefits. They can help you with several aspects of your move, such as your visa applications, finding housing, school advisory services, orientation services, pet relocation, career counselling, language training and much more. Relocation services can essentially organize most of your moving arrangements and can save you a tremendous amount of time, effort and stress.
To conclude, planning is crucial to a successful relocation, so you want to make sure you have plenty of time to get yourself organized. If you leave it too late, you most certainly will have forgotten something, which could lead to a very stressful situation. With or without professional assistance, the most important thing is your determination and willingness to make this chapter of your life work for all involved.
Author Bio: ExpatFinder.com is a free one stop website for people preparing to move or working and living overseas – Compare service providers, Find Relocation Providers, Insurance, Finance and more…