Planning your move abroad
Moving abroad can be a daunting experience and once you have made the decision to do so your life can become a whirlwind of planning and organisation.
Apart from the emotional upheaval of leaving family and friends you will have to make sure you have dealt with all the practicalities such as selling or renting your home, finding a new job and leaving your old one, and finding appropriate schools for your children if you have any.
It has, however, become easier to move abroad than it used to be. As the UK is a member of the EU, British citizens can live and work in any of the other member states. Other popular destinations, such as Australia, New Zealand and the United States, have some skill shortages, so if you meet certain criteria your path to one of these countries is made considerably easier.
If you have already chosen your destination, your next step is deciding if it will meet all your expectations. If you have chosen a location for its way of life – such as the weather, landscape and outdoor lifestyle of Australia – you need to make sure there are adequate job opportunities for you, and whether the cost of living might mean that you struggle to make ends meet. How much is rent or the cost of buying a property in your chosen destination? Can you afford to rent or buy in the location or will you have to compromise and live some miles away?
Similarly, if you have been offered a job abroad, you need to research whether you will actually like the climate and lifestyle of the destination. A great job offer and career move may not make up for living in a place that you don’t like.
If you own property in the UK, will you rent or sell it? If you are going to rent it out you will need to decide whether to employ an agency to take care of it for you or whether you want to manage it yourself, perhaps with the help of a family member. Renting may provide a safety net for you, as if you ever want to return home you’ll still be on the property ladder.
Outside the EU, you will of course need to sort out a visa for your chosen destination, but have you thought beyond the term of your visa? If you decide to stay much longer and are granted the ability to do so, will you want to retain your rights as a British citizen? Or will you want to become a citizen of your new country? Retaining rights as a British citizen could have implications for your tax status in your new residence.
Finance and tax can become complicated in relation to savings, earnings, pensions, purchasing property and making other investments abroad. You must establish the most favourable position for you in order to safeguard the future of any investments, savings and pensions.
You will also need to factor in how to keep in touch with family and friends. Communication is much easier and cheaper with the Internet but if you move very far away you might also want to budget for the costs of coming home for visits.
For all the opportunities and benefits, moving abroad can be a minefield of red tape, so it’s a prudent idea to seek immigration advice to ensure that you’ve covered all your bases before making the big leap.
Photo credit: Graham Soult