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Ten Tips for Would-Be Expats Thinking About Moving Abroad

Ten Tips for Would-Be Expats Thinking About Moving Abroad

As the weather in the UK gets ever worse as we descend towards the depths of winter, and as the days get shorter and the politicians talk more about cuts, cuts and more cuts, it’s a fact that an increasing number of Britons will be actively contemplating a relocation abroad around about now! If you enjoyed a summer sunshine holiday this year and you want more of the same but on a permanent basis, are you thinking about moving to live abroad too?

As the weather in the UK gets ever worse as we descend towards the depths of winter, and as the days get shorter and the politicians talk more about cuts, cuts and more cuts, it’s a fact that an increasing number of Britons will be actively contemplating a relocation abroad around about now!

If you enjoyed a summer sunshine holiday this year and you want more of the same but on a permanent basis, or you’re aware that there’s more to life than living in a country where public spending is going to be dangerously cut, are you thinking about moving to live abroad too?

Recent surveys by leading banks and financial services companies in the UK have indicated that there is a very strong desire amongst Britons to move to live abroad.  Whether the respondents are young university leavers seeking career opportunities, midlife “˜relaunchers’ looking to start all over again or retirees aware that it’s now or never, it seems that there is a very strong appetite to go in search of a better life overseas.

Having been lucky enough to have lived and worked in many nations around the world, and having made some of the mistakes I’m about to try and prevent you from making, I feel fairly well qualified to present for you the 10 tips that would-be expats can hopefully really benefit from.  If you want to make a success of a relocation and you want to turn your dream of a new life abroad into a reality, read on to discover what to do and what not to do when you expatriate if you want the best chance of achieving your goals.

1. Say “˜goodbye’ not “˜good riddance’ – when you leave your old life it may be very tempting to burn a few bridges and tell a few people what you’ve always secretly thought of them”¦but don’t give in to temptation!

You never know, one day you may tire of your new life and want to repatriate – or more likely, as it’s such a small world you may well run in to friends of your archenemy when you relocate.

So, walk away with dignity, safe in the knowledge that you’re off to live the dream, and that those you leave behind are sadly stuck in the same old rut!

2. Don’t run away – I have met people who are abroad on the run from debt, bad relationships, legal problems and ultimately themselves.  You cannot leave any of these “˜problems’ behind you”¦and if you fail to sort out the issues that restrict your life before you make your move abroad, they can continue to blight your life until you face them head on.

Moving abroad is not a solution to your worldly problems – it’s an opportunity to start a brand new life.  However, ultimately you’re still you, and you cannot escape yourself.  So if you’re unhappy or in trouble, moving abroad won’t necessarily fix your life”¦try and fix it and then move.  You will enjoy your new life so much more.

3. Know how you will earn an income – even if you’re retiring overseas, you need to have your financial plan established before you go.  You need to know how you are going to earn an income abroad – and if that means buying or starting a business or getting a job, ensure your plans are viable.

I.e., is there local demand for the service you will provide, are there jobs locally for someone with your skills, do your qualifications translate abroad, how likely and realistic is it that your ideas will work out for you?

If you’re retiring, you need to know how much monthly pension or investment related income you will have coming in, and how far that will take you in your new life.

You cannot underestimate the amount of effort, planning and preparation you need to do when it comes to the financial aspects of your move.

4. Have a financial back-up plan – because the monetary aspects of your move are so critical, they deserve two points in this top ten!  If you get the money right, you will succeed, if you get it wrong you really risk failure.

The number one reason why expats fail is because they get their money matters wrong.

If you’re moving abroad and you’re determined you will find a job or begin a business, your determination may well carry you all the way through to success.  However, you may face unexpected costs or an economic downturn could affect your profitability for example, so look more widely at the opportunities there are in your new nation to earn an income.

Be sensible and savvy and realistic about what’s possible”¦

5. Consider your health – you need to look at the healthcare standards and the availability of treatment in your new nation.  You need to look closely at the costs you may incur in accessing care, and you have to look at whether you will need to afford medical insurance to ensure your back is covered.

The first time most expatriates get up close and personal with the medical services in their new nation is when it’s too late – i.e., when they are ill and they need care.  However, you should already be appraised of what is available, what it will cost, where you can get the best treatment and if there are any shortcomings in your new country before you need to call on a medical practitioner.

Forewarned is forearmed in this case.

{mosbanner right}6. Try before you commit – living abroad is not like being on holiday!  On holiday you don’t have any need to find an accountant or a translator to help you fill in tax forms with a very short deadline.  On holiday you have no need to take a medical and bribe someone to get a work visa!

These realities are what you may be living with when you permanently expatriate – along with having to queue to pay your utility bills at the bank each month, searching fruitlessly for a part to fix a broken down car and dealing with teachers who don’t appreciate the schooling your child has had to date.

Moving to live permanently abroad is not for everyone.  You need a real adventurous spirit, a tough will and you have to be adaptable.  Therefore take an extended holiday out of season in your chosen country and see if you really do like it enough to call it home.

7. Rent before you buy – do not buy a house abroad before you have lived there long enough to know where the best districts and towns, areas or villages are to suit your lifestyle requirements.

What’s more, newly arrived expats are often not so savvy about haggling or the buying process in the new nation and they can often fall foul and end up buying a pup.  It is then far harder to resell said pup to buy what you really want a few years down the line!

It makes absolute sense therefore to rent a property, get to know the country, get to know the buying process and only then consider buying a permanent home in your new nation.

8. Throw away your rose coloured glasses – moving abroad is not going to be all plain sailing, there will be challenges as well as opportunities, good days as well as the occasional bad day.  You need to be emotionally prepared for the fact that to make a relocation a success you have to be committed to it and put in some hard work to build your dream life.

Additionally, going back to an earlier point, a new life abroad is no holiday.  The mundane realities of life such as paying bills and cleaning the house don’t magically disappear.  So, make sure your expectations are realistic and then you will never be disappointed when you wake up one day and it’s actually raining!

9. Never lose sight of the dream – on a day when it does rain (literally or metaphorically) you need to remember the reasons why you made the move in the first place.  If you can keep in mind the reasons you went after the dream you will never struggle with an obstacle or a negative challenge for long.

Expats are allegedly famous for whinging – however, those who never lose sight of their dream have very little to complain about and disprove this false myth.

10. Go for it! – Don’t let anyone put you off realising your dream.  There is no reason why you cannot start a new and a better life abroad in a country of your choosing.  As long as you plan well and have realistic expectations you can survive and thrive abroad.

By Rhiannon Davies, editor of ҬShelter Offshore: for people seeking a better life abroad.

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