There are always a million and one chores you need to sort out before moving to a different country, and it’s extremely likely you won’t be able tick off everything on your to-do list. With that in mind, we’ve put together a short list of some of the most essential tasks to get done before your move. Hopefully these tips will come in handy and help you to make your relocation a success.
Create a watertight budget for your first few months
Many experienced expats across our social media platforms, have reported being surprised at the price of certain goods and services during their time in a new country. Of course, it’s impossible to predict exactly how much money you’re going to spend during the early stages of a relocation, but there are some tools that may help you plan.
Firstly, think about downloading a trusted and up-to-date currency exchange app. In our experience, expats who get used to evaluating prices in a new currency find that half the battle is already won. We also recommend using special financial planning tools, such as the YNAB or Honeydue apps, so that you can take control of your spending.
Contact your foreign office
One resource that is often overlooked is your own country’s foreign office. It’s often tempting to only seek advice through Google searches, expat forums and blogs, but of course, some of the most definitive advice often comes from government sources.
You’ll find that many foreign offices not only provide useful information on the rules surrounding travel to specific countries and official travel warnings, but also offer the latest advice on subjects such as health and vaccines, issues surrounding domicile status, and even guidelines regarding such things as getting married abroad or buying a property in a different country.
Don’t hesitate to put together a list of questions about your new country and call up your foreign office.
Keep your bank in the loop
It happens to all of us occasionally. You’ll be trying to take money out or make a payment in a foreign country, and your card gets blocked. This usually happens when your bank detects suspicious activity (like making a payment in an unknown location…), but it can be a real pain for expats when they first move to a new country.
One way to deal with this is to call up your bank beforehand and let them know your travel plans. Subsequently, your bank will add your planned destinations to a list and your card won’t be flagged up or blocked when being used in one of these places. Also, many banks now offer mobile banking, making it easier for you either freeze a card or get it unblocked quickly.
Inform the appropriate tax authorities
If you are planning to move to another country on a permanent basis, it’s very likely that the way you pay taxes will change. The first thing to do, is to check if there are any double taxation agreements in place. If your new country and home country have this type of agreement, you won’t have to pay tax in more than one country (The USA is an exception, and most US expats must pay taxes both in both their chosen destination and back home). It’s always a good idea to contact your government tax department, let them know about your plans to relocate, and follow their advice.
Get a check-up before you leave
Healthcare horror stories continue to rear their ugly heads in expat circles. Those arriving in a new country, may develop an illness or have an accident, and end up paying thousands of pounds in healthcare costs or, in some extreme cases, needing to be evacuated back home. There are measures you can take to hopefully avoid the worst-case scenario. We recommend scheduling a check-up with your own doctor/dentist/optician before you leave. If you have any health issues, it’s best to make sure you’re aware of them before launching your relocation.
Get travel and health insurance
Even if your chosen country has a high-quality public healthcare system, we strongly advise you to purchase some form of private travel/health insurance before you move. You can compare no-obligation quotes from leading insurers on our website.
Obtain the correct documents, cards, and licenses
You may find that some documents, such as your driving licence, can be used in the same way as back home, however each country has its own rules and regulations, so it’s important to check which documents/cards/licenses are valid for use, and which ones you need to replace. This may be a relatively simple process – for example, getting your university qualification translated and/or legalized (note that the legalization of documents is something you will need to do in your home country) – or it could be a lengthier process – for instance, you might need to take certain tests in your new country in order to receive the equivalent document that’s required.
Research the job market
You don’t want to end up in a country feeling underpaid or undervalued, so it’s really important to get a broad view of a country’s job market and any potential benefits that may be available to you. A quick and simple way to gain some insight into the standard of employment in a new country is to check job-listing websites. On these platforms, you should be able to get an idea of average salaries and any additional advantages offered in your chosen destination. If you have a good understanding of the market, you’ll be in a good position to negotiate better terms and conditions with an employer in a different country.
Show your employment contract to a professional
It’s a good idea to ask either a professional or an experienced expat for their opinion of an employment contract before you sign it. They can tell you if the contract is fair in relation to working hours, overtime agreements, employment benefits and rights, and other aspects, like holidays and leave.
Keep a record
Finally, even if you aren’t able to complete all of the tasks on your checklist, we recommend keeping either a list, spreadsheet or some form of journal, where you can note down all the things you need to do for your relocation. These lists are useful even after you’ve arrived in your new country, because there are many tasks you can also complete while you’re abroad.