Becoming an expatriate is a huge step and involves lots of planning that you may not have considered when you made the decision to live abroad. If you are moving to another country for work then your company may help, but it is important to have an idea what to expect yourself.
Around six weeks before you leave sit down and make sure that you have carried out all of the following tasks. If you have not, do not worry because there is still plenty of time to get them sorted out as long as you act quickly.
Integrating yourself into a new community requires work and an insight into what you can expect when you get there. Prioritising other tasks will make the transition harder for you and your family, so make sure you research your destination.
This can be done through visits, brochures and the internet. Many expat communities have forums set up where you can talk to those who have already been through the emigration experience. It is also help you to get to know some people in advance and start to build up a support network.
Not everyone decides to learn the language of the country that they are moving to as it is often not deemed necessary. Many people find that it helps to know the basics, while others will find a more in-depth knowledge of the local tongue invaluable. Either way it is a good idea to start language lessons now.
It may sound obvious, but make sure that you and all members of your family have valid passports. With all of the other tasks to do before moving this is often one that gets overlooked and then it can be stressful to have new passports issued at the last minute. Make sure yourpapers are all valid up until the time you expect to be back in your native country.
You will also need to send off your passport in order to apply for any visas, work permits or residency documentation and it can take weeks for this process to be carried out. You may also wish to sit an international driving test as not all countries recognise such qualifications from abroad.
Book your plane tickets and organise accommodation for the time immediately after emigrating. This can sometimes be done through work, but even if an apartment has been set up, you many need to stay overnight near the airport once you have arrived depending on the distance to your new home.
Also look into how you plan to have your possessions transferred, the charges associated with this and any documents needed to bring them into the country. Not finding out this information could mean you are living without many of the items you need for the first couple of weeks. This can make it harder to settle in for everyone, especially children.
Take out expatriate insurance to cover you in the event of needing medical treatment. Clinic and hospital charges can often be expensive abroad, so making sure that you and your family are all covered will mean you won't be out of pocket.
You may need to set up a local bank account once in your adopted country and this can be done on a visit if you have the chance before moving. As well as this it is important to make sure that your current bank knows you are emigrating.
Set up internet banking for all of your accounts so that you will be able to manage them remotely and make sure all statements are set to be sent out electronically. Also look at the expiry dates on your debit and credit cards, as sending these overseas can be complicated.
Think about how you are going to convert money prior to leaving. It may be worth enlisting the help of a currency broker who will help you to get the best deal. See if you can get hold of a few of the coins and notes to help familiarise yourself and your children with them, so that you are less likely to be ripped off when you arrive.