Things to Know Before Moving Abroad
Moving abroad is an excellent opportunity to explore new cultures, experiences and possibilities. For some, it’s a whole new chapter and a chance to fulfill career aspirations or personal dreams.
It doesn’t matter why you’re moving abroad, whatever the reason, you will need to be prepared with legal documentation, housing, and finances before you take the leap to ensure you continue living the lifestyle that you deserve.
Here are some of the most essential things that you’ll need to consider before making the decision to move abroad.
Things to Know Before Moving Abroad
Obtaining the right Visas
When you move abroad, you must obtain the right Visas and rights to work and live in that country. Each country has their own requirements for people entering the country and you must request the correct Visas by filling in a Visa application form.
Some Visas will have hidden costs attached to them depending on the length of your intended stay and the resources that you’re likely to use in that country throughout your stay.
For example, when moving to the US, you may need to pay additional costs in advance for your healthcare, as the US works on an insurance-based system which you won’t have paid into.
There are also requirements between short stays and longer-term Green Card applications as a Green Card grants you access to education, means that you are eligible to pay tax and gives you some healthcare benefits.
Bear in mind that Green Card holders need to be in the country for at least 6 months of the year, so if you are applying to move to the US, but have a job that is travel dependent, this may come with some problems.
If you’ve lived in the US for more than 5 years, you may then be eligible to apply for citizenship which gives you the right to vote and to come and go as you please.
Before applying for your Visa, it’s a good idea to think ahead about your intentions to ensure the costs are worth it.
For most countries there are also different types of Visas. You may be moving for work, in which case, your workplace may fund your Visa. However, if it’s a personal move or a talent Visa where you enter a country with a vocation, then there may be other costs involved to ensure you pay your way.
Healthcare coverage is something that many people put to the side-lines when moving abroad. But it’s actually one of the most important aspects of moving. You never know when you might need medical attention and it’s a good idea to get the best coverage as soon as possible.
Each country has different ways of dealing with medical care. In the UK and some other EU countries, the National Health Service is available to people who have been living in the country for over 3 months and have begun paying taxes from their income. The tax in these cases is mandatory and helps to fund the health service.
In the US, healthcare is more privatized, and people typically pay insurance for their healthcare just like they pay car or home insurance. This means that they can get a higher level of healthcare, depending on how much they are willing to pay.
Some employers even offer healthcare packages as part of their employee benefits package.
It’s worth checking with your employer and the country you intend to move to and taking out a healthcare package as soon as you move.
Opening a bank account may seem easy in your home country. However, moving to a new country means that the bank will request a whole host of documentation to show your funds and where they came from.
As you’re likely to have funds transferred from overseas, especially if you already own assets in your home country, it’s essential to find a bank account that will accept regular overseas transactions and currency exchanges. It’s also a good idea to find one that will do these exchanges without taking a fee. Be careful, some bank accounts will charge you each time a currency is exchanged.
There are quite a few digital banking services out there which allow free exchanges. They’re a great option until you’re established in your new country.
If you’ve moved to another country using a work Visa, then your employer may be able to set an account up for you in order to pay your wages.
Taxes and other financial issues
Every country collects its tax in a different way. For the UK, the tax is collected automatically from your wages by the HMRC, whereas living in the US, you’ll need to file your own tax return and understand how much tax you need to pay based on the declaration of income and assets. As a US citizen, you may even need to file a tax return if you choose to relocate to another country permanently.
If you’re unsure on the tax system, it’s a good idea to speak to a tax professional in the country that you intend to relocate to. They will be able to determine the tax laws based on the country or state and make you aware of how to declare assets back home too.
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Having somewhere to call home is essential when moving abroad. It helps you to settle in and get on with life a little quicker. However, unless you’ve been over to buy a house prior to moving, or have had one gifted, then you’ll be left to find a suitable rental.
While some real estate agents will offer virtual viewings, there are some agencies that might leave out the ‘finer details’ which could come as a surprise when you move over. If you’re unsure, it’s a good idea to ask someone from the country where you intend to move to, to carry out the viewing for you or set up a bunch of viewings while you’re there on vacation.
Most countries won’t allow you to purchase a house if you aren’t in the country indefinitely, so renting until your permanent Visa comes through is typically the best way to settle down.
Moving to a new country and starting a whole new life can be daunting. Job number one is to ensure that you can support yourself whilst you’re there. This is to give you peace of mind, but also because many countries won’t allow you to move without having an established plan to support yourself.
If you’re planning to move to a new country, it’s a good idea to set up interviews for new positions around 6 months prior to your intended move.
Lots of companies will allow for virtual interviews these days, so it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll have to travel.
Some countries require a permit to work there, or a work Visa, so you also need to consider the country’s requirements when it comes to work. For example, countries in the EU require you to apply for a ‘right-to-work’ permit, while Australia and New Zealand vet their immigrants to ensure they have a vocation before entering.
Some countries may not even recognise your qualifications, so it’s possible that you may have to sit more exams when you move to do the same job that you’ve been doing already.
Communication is an essential aspect of moving abroad. You need to be able to speak to those around you to get the things that you need, especially when you first move. It’s a great idea to plan in some language lessons to get the basics right. It helps you to make useful connections when you move and makes organizing your new life much easier.
While public transport is a great way to move around, it’s not ideal when you don’t understand the bus, train or tram routes in your new country. A car allows you to move around more freely without having to wait on timetables and can give you the opportunity to explore a little more too.
Leasing a car when you first move might be the best option. However, it’s important that you check driving license rules. While most countries will allow you to use your current license if you’re on a travel Visa, moving to a new country may mean that you need a license from that country and may need to retake the test.
Lease a car as soon as you move and check out the licensing laws. If you need to take a new driving test, then this can take a few months to book and take place, so put this to the top of your priority list.
In certain countries, such as the US, the country is so vast that there are even different licensing laws per state. Having a license for passing a test in Mississippi won’t allow you to drive in Seattle. If you’re due to move states a lot because of work or family commitments, you should contact the DMV. You may even need to take a vision test for a new license.
Connections and relationships
Moving home can be a stressful time and this is sometimes exacerbated by moving abroad. There are different laws to consider, all of your possessions to safely transport and a whole new home and workplace to get into rhythm with.
The best thing to do is call upon your support network. The chances are that you’ll already know some people in the country you’re moving to, so ask for their help. There are also a ton of professional services that will help you figure out your healthcare requirements, taxes and housing. Speak to as many people as you can who already have experience in the country and even call upon your neighbors. You never know when you’ll need that emergency cup of sugar!
Moving can feel overwhelming but strengthen your connections and reach out to people for help. It will always make your journey go much more smoothly.
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