Things to consider when relocating abroad
Whether retiring in sunnier climes, relocating for work or simply finding a fresh start, moving abroad can offer a better quality of life and financial savings. However, many people are put off making a new start when confronted with the logistical, legal and cultural barriers separating them from a new life overseas. A bit of careful planning beforehand could be the key to making a smooth transition and ensuring that you don’t run into problems further down the line.
Perhaps the most important thing would-be expats should think about is medical care, as falling ill in an unfamiliar environment can be a frightening and expensive experience. No healthcare system is identical to that of another country and it is wise to research what, if any, care is extended to expats.
In some countries, such as Germany, you can buy into the national health insurance scheme, while other European systems may offer free treatment to selected foreigners. However, many countries rely on private medical care and health insurance is often mandatory. Treatment can be refused if payment is not guaranteed so it is vital migrants organise this before they leave.
As with healthcare, tax and financial systems vary significantly around the world. Carefully researching the cost of living in your chosen destination will help you keep to a budget, but expatriates should remember that exchange rates are never set in stone and the value of your savings could drop suddenly.
Those who choose to invest in property overseas should spend some time getting to know the market. It could be a better option to rent at first while you get to know local people and places, keeping an eye on auctions or new developments.
Tax is another area that can be mystifying at first, with different rules applying to savings and investments around the world. A number of factors must be taken into account and where you live may not be where you are resident for tax purposes. Anyone hoping to be more efficient with their finances could get in contact with an advisor as a number of firms specialise in expatriate services and, as well as health insurance and tax, they may also be able to advise you on other appropriate protection products such as: travel insurance, personal accident (income replacement) insurance and life insurance.
When making the decision to move abroad, parents need to consider how their children will adjust to an unfamiliar home. Outgoing kids may be enthusiastic about new experiences and younger children have a good chance of becoming bilingual quickly, but others may be more shy and slower to adapt.
The plan is also available to certain local nationals.
Not every country offers universal free education, with some only providing lessons free of charge to certain age groups or native residents. If moving to an area with a sizable expatriate population, such as the United Arab Emirates or any European capital, parents will find they have plenty of choice. Those moving to other locations may find that local state schools, lessons at home, or boarding schools elsewhere are their only options.
Finally, possibly the best resource for those arriving in a new country is other expats. All but the most remote parts of the world are likely to have a community of foreign residents and listening to their advice and asking questions could speed up the integration process.