Six Things You Must Consider Before Moving Abroad

Six Things You Must Consider Before Moving Abroad

Most of you reading this article will have at one stage or another, while on some sun-kissed beach or city break abroad, thought to yourselves, “I wouldn’t mind living here.”

The reasons are numerous.  The chance to own your own place in the sun. Experience a different culture. A different climate. Maybe a dream job opportunity or the chance to follow a partner halfway across the world.

Whatever the motivation, here are six things you must consider before you make that leap into the unknown.

Six Things You Must Consider Before Moving Abroad

1. The cost of living

The last thing you want to do is make your dream move -- and then discover it has turned into a nightmare because you cannot afford to live there in the manner in which you would like.

Some parts of the globe are renowned as very easy on the budget. Others, however, are notoriously expensive. Think cities such as London, New York’s Manhattan district and Hong Kong.

For instance, they may enjoy glorious sunshine, but Bermuda (No1 on the list) and The Bahamas (No3) are some of the world’s most expensive countries to live in. Others in the top 10 include Switzerland (No2) and a trio of Scandinavian countries (Norway, Iceland and Denmark) in places 4-6.

On the other hand, India, Moldova and Pakistan are, in that order, the three cheapest states to live in.

Most emigres are happiest striking a balance between the two extremes of expensiveness.

And bear in mind the effect of ever-changing exchange rates, especially if you need to regularly receive a salary or other money from or send funds to your home country.


2. Language

How good are you at picking up different languages? If you already speak a widely spoken tongue such as English or Spanish, your chances of making yourself understood abroad are usually pretty good.

Many English-speaking expats head to the Old Commonwealth (Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa plus the US) as there is no language barrier.

But if you plan on going to a non English-speaking country, you will almost certainly need to pick up the local language pretty sharpish (enrolling on a course speeds things up) as even in English-friendly regions such as Scandinavia, you can’t count on everyone speaking English, especially when it comes to things such as dealing with schools, local government officials or doctors’ appointments.

In addition, you will endear yourself to locals by making tentative attempts (no matter how clumsy) in their dialect.


3. Taxes

Different countries have different tax rules, especially when it comes to purchasing a property.

In countries such as Italy, buying a home can add up to 10 per cent to advertised prices, thanks to one-off notary and surveyor fees and property taxes.

However, registering from Italian residency can significantly lower your liability.

Don’t forget to factor in ongoing local authority taxes too, whichever country you are moving to.

Many countries impose a capital gains tax on any profits when you sell your property there.

You can often have to pay a levy in your home country and your new country. However, some countries, such as Canada, have reciprocal agreements in place so that you only pay Capital Gains Tax in one country.


4. Health facilities

Sometimes cheaper isn’t always best. Countries such as Moldova and Pakistan may be among the world’s least expensive, but ask yourself how you would be cared for if you or a member of your family suffered a life-threatening health emergency there.

Additionally, UK residents are used to free universal healthcare on the NHS. On the other hand, the US has some of the world’s most advanced healthcare but it isn’t free. Or cheap.

Across the EU, a European Health Insurance card entitles holders to free or reduced-price emergency care. However, watch out for local laws that suddenly curtail that entitlement. For instance, many Brit expats in Spain have suddenly found themselves barred from free local treatment.


5. Your social life

Forging new relationships in an unfamiliar country can be demanding, especially if there is a language barrier as well. Your new job or place of study may conceivably be one source of new friendships. But not always.

Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and try local language courses, expat groups, local organisations, and evening cookery or dance classes. It’s also important not to lose touch with old friends back at home -- especially if the move abroad doesn’t work out in the end.


6. Work

If you already have a well-paid job lined up, your new employer will probably have sorted out visa arrangements on your behalf.

EU citizens don’t need a visa to work in a different country. But for countries such as the US, you will need a Green Card. For Australia, your chances are greater if you have a prized skill that is in short supply. The Australian Government has helpfully provided a list of such occupations.

Travelling abroad and hoping to pick up casual work on the fly, in a bar or restaurant, for instance, can seem like an adventure. But don’t get caught out by the fact that some places (Canary Island holiday resorts, for instance) virtually close down out of season. Keep an eye out also for economic downturns, which will drastically limit the number of jobs available.