When you’re taking the leap and moving thousands of miles away, it’s all too easy to get swept up in the excitement.
But before you pack up and jump on a plane, there are some essential things you need to do first. Here we cover five of the most important things to sort out when you’re thinking of moving abroad:
Get your paperwork in order
To start off, you need to understand any visa requirements for entry.
The paperwork you need will depend on your reason for moving and whether you’re planning on finding work abroad or working remotely — you could apply for temporary or permanent residency, work, business or tourist visas.
This should be one of the first things that you research because it will help you narrow down which destinations are actually a possibility, and you’ll know how far in advance you have to apply.
You also need to check the expiry date of your passport. Different countries require you to have certain amounts of time left on your passports — in some cases, it can be up to 12 months. If your passport is going to expire within the next year anyway, it might be worthwhile renewing it before you leave.
Sort things out at home
Before you get on that plane to your new life a million miles away, you need to wrap things up at home. Sorting out your belongings, bills, and letting everyone know you’re leaving will take quite a while.
If you’re renting then that’s no problem — you just need to give your landlord appropriate notice that you’re moving out. And if you own your home, then you need to decide whether you’re going to sell it or rent it out while you’re away.
Renting out might seem like a good idea so that you have some income and something to come back to, but if you have a mortgage you’ll have to let the bank know and change it to a buy-to-let mortgage. You also need to consider whether you’ll be able to manage your property from another country and research any other financial implications of living abroad as a landlord.
You then need to decide what to do with all your belongings — what do you sell, what do you give away, what’s going to go into storage, and what are the essentials you will take with you? It’s tempting to hang on to some things that have sentimental value, but if you’re planning on staying abroad for several years then you might need to be a bit cut-throat and ditch your larger items.
In the final months before the big move, you should let the council know you’ll be moving abroad so that you stop paying council tax. Don’t forget to cancel any other bills, subscriptions, and your tv licence too, as well as setting up a forwarding address for any important post you might get once you’ve left.
Tax requirements at home and abroad
When you’re moving abroad, the tax that you’re required to pay will change, so it’s important to notify HMRC ahead of time.
However, you won’t be exempt from paying all taxes once you leave. Depending on your specific circumstances, you might have to pay tax for any interest on savings held in the UK, as well as your income and assets that you have. This means that you may have to complete a self-assessment tax return even after you leave.
Once you’re abroad, there’s a good chance you’ll have to pay tax in the country that you’re living in as well. It’s best to check with a financial advisor before you leave, and in the country you’re moving to, so that you know exactly what you should be paying.
First of all, you need to let your GP know that you’re moving away, which should stop them from sending any appointment letters to your current address.
Next, you need to check out the healthcare system in the country you’re moving to. Access to healthcare will vary dramatically from country to country, and it will also depend on whether you are working and paying taxes there.
Many countries will require you to make contributions or join a national health insurance scheme, so it’s important to check what you have to do so you can access healthcare when you need it (trust us, you don’t want to leave this one out or wait until an emergency).
You should also sort out travel insurance before you go and make sure your policy covers healthcare and medical emergencies, your belongings, and cancellations.
Setting yourself up abroad
Another important thing to do before you leave is research on how you’re going to set yourself up when you get wherever you’re going.
Figure out where you will live; find some temporary accommodation for when you first arrive if you don’t have anything permanent lined up or it’s dependent on where you find work.
Get to grips with basic things like whether you can use your current bank accounts and cards abroad, or whether you need to set up a new bank account.
It’s also a good idea to spend a bit of time looking at the local customs and culture — you don’t want to inadvertently offend people as soon as you arrive, or worse, do something illegal without realising it.
Another thing to think about is how you are going to meet people. It could be a good idea to stay in a sociable hostel at first where there are lots of other people in similar situations, or look at whether there are local activities or groups you could join. Even if you’re not moving abroad on your own it’s still good to establish relationships with other people — it’ll make settling in and adjusting to your new life a lot easier.
These are the main things you need to consider when you’re thinking of moving abroad — but there may be others you need to do depending on where you are going. The most important thing is to do a bit of research and allow time to plan your move.