Most of us will have spent lazy days on holiday lying on a sun-kissed beach with not a care in the world and have thought “wouldn’t it be nice to live abroad?” at one time or another. And whilst many Brits will go on and turn their dreams into reality and become part of the millions of expats living overseas, there are so many considerations to take into account and it involves far more thought and careful planning than you’re likely to have thought possible. If moving overseas is something you are seriously considering, however, here are just some of the many issues you’ll need to think carefully about.
Permits/VisasFirstly, depending on where you are looking to move to, you may find that it’s difficult or nigh on impossible to obtain the relevant paperwork such as visas and work permits unless you’re moving to another EU member country. Therefore, it’s important you find that out from the outset because without the necessary paperwork, all of the other considerations will be meaningless.
Health and InsuranceIt’s not simply a matter of a couple of weeks’ travel insurance but you’ll need to take out comprehensive insurance policies for your health, travel, home and contents, third party liability and motor insurance. Health insurance is vital as without it, you could end up being left with bills you simply cannot afford to pay if you suffer from a serious illness or have a bad accident whilst abroad. It’s not like the UK which has the NHS. In certain countries, you may not even be entitled to the most basic of healthcare facilities without having the proper insurance. You should also be aware of any potential health risks in the country you’re travelling to, make sure that you have all of the proper vaccinations and have taken any other necessary health precautions.
Cultural IssuesOnce again, a holiday experience abroad is likely to be very different from becoming a resident in a certain country. Even if you do tend to go on holidays away from the typically British resorts overseas and enjoy conversing with the local natives, actually living amongst them as a resident can be very different and in many places, you’ll need to get to know their culture, heritage, traditions, customs and way of life before you go as you may find that certain practices and beliefs are so far off from what you feel you can accommodate within your own lifestyle so it’s important you gain a grasp of these first before deciding if a move to a particular country is right for you.
Children and EducationIf you are planning to move abroad with children, you’ll also need to look at the implications for their schooling. Will there be schools there where English is widely spoken? Are the schools of a high standard? How do your children feel about integrating with foreign children and perhaps having to learn a new language? All of these and much more are questions you’ll need to have answered.
Cost of LivingMany people quit Britain for a life abroad because of the cost of living which they believe is far cheaper overseas. Whilst this may be true in some countries, it is not true of all and it’s important you find out if you can actually afford to live overseas whilst maintaining your required standard of living. Remember things like healthcare costs which are often not taken into account when considering like-for-like costs of living between the UK and countries overseas.
EmploymentIf you have a job go to, you’ll also need to consider what you would do if the job ended at any point. Would you be able to obtain another job within your chosen field quite quickly and, if not, how might this affect your ability to afford the means to sustain yourself and your family?
Finance and TaxesYou’ll also need to consider opening a foreign bank account and to find out more about taxes and other charges which you will incur in the place you are moving to and the cost of any implications of financial assets you still might have in the UK.
These are just some of the issues which will need careful consideration before moving overseas. Others would include things like accessibility to public transport if you don’t intend having a car, crime and personal safety and communications infrastructures if you rely on them for work or for keeping in touch with friends and family back home.
The important thing to remember is that many expats go on to lead far happier lives and have never regretted leaving the UK for a life overseas. There are, however, many for whom it ends up turning into a nightmare. Therefore, the key thing is to plan meticulously, ensuring that relocation overseas is viable and something you are determined to do and then to also have some kind of ‘exit strategy’ in place, should emergencies occur or you decide later that you wish to return home.