So, you’ve decided to pack up and move abroad in your middle age and are excited to start your journey, but what do you need to consider before you go?
Whether you’re in your mid-thirties or mid-fifties, we’ve covered ten top areas to consider so you can start your new life abroad as prepared as possible.
Whether you need a visa will be determined by where you’re moving from and to. At the moment there’s free movement within the European Union, but after Brexit is completed it’s uncertain what will happen.
If you’re looking to move outside of Europe it’s likely you’ll need a visa. Some countries, like Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, have very strict emigration policies and requirements for visas, so you may find you need to spend some time researching your eligibility. A lot of people who move Down Under either have family to sponsor them, or apply for a skilled work visa – but you’ll need to complete your application before you’re 50 if you hope to work in Australia, and before 55 if you want to move to New Zealand on one of these visas. Many countries have a list of desirable professions on their governments’ websites which will help you determine how easy it will be for you to enter the country.
Healthcare is an important consideration for many expats, especially those who are moving overseas for a sunnier, more active lifestyle. Whichever country you move to will have a completely different healthcare system, so it’s worth finding out more in order to price in how much you’ll be liable to pay if you need medical attention. By checking prices for routine appointments such as GP visits, dentistry and eye tests, and paying close attention to the cost of emergency care, you’ll be more prepared. At present, if you remain in the European Union you can apply for a European Health Insurance Card. Holding one of these cards gives you low-cost emergency medical cover.
Another good idea for soon-to-be-expats is to research health insurance. A lot of visas require expats to have private health insurance, so it’s worth costing how much it will be on a monthly basis, and whether that’s affordable. Some countries have a system similar to the NHS such as Australia’s Medicare which is publically funded. However, if you’re dreaming of sunny Spain, it’s worth looking into the regulations which have restricted free healthcare eligibility for many expats hoping to retire early.
When choosing a new place to live, it’s important to consider the language and how easy it will be for you to settle in. If you can’t speak the native tongue it can be an isolating experience moving somewhere that you don’t know and making slow progress interacting with the locals.
If English is your first language and a smooth transition into life abroad is important to you, countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the US are good choices. However, if you are looking to move elsewhere, learning the language ahead of your move will be an incredible advantage. This way if you need to deal with estate agents for a property purchase, visit the doctor with a medical problem, or want to make new friends and socialise in the local community, you’ll have the ability to do so.
Whether you’re looking to buy a small sunbaked apartment overlooking the canals in Venice, a spacious country house complete with vineyard in the French countryside, or a renovated New York loft, you’ll want to find a property that suits all your needs and get an exchange rate that gives you more currency for your money, to make it a little more affordable.
When you begin looking at properties, the area you choose is incredibly important. It’s worth considering how much space you realistically need. Buying sprawling farms or a six-bedroom villa with a pool sounds like a great idea, but most of the time larger houses require costly maintenance as well as having higher utility bills, so it’s worth factoring this in.
When you are looking to buy a property, finding a reputable real estate agent is a high priority. Check the type of credentials your real estate seller needs to have in your chosen country, and hire separate legal representatives who aren’t affiliated with the estate agent to ensure you’re getting impartial advice. In some countries when you buy a property you can inherit any debt that’s attached to it, so make sure you undertake all the appropriate checks so that you don’t get caught out.
Do you need easy access to an airport so you can head back to the UK regularly? Do you need to be close to hospitals or other healthcare facilities? Do you have children, and would they like the option to walk to school?
It’s worth considering how accessible your new destination is and how much it will cost for you to travel back to the UK if you want to visit. So whether it’s a Christmas surprise to visit family members back and enjoy mince pies and crisp winter evenings by the fire, or a summer holiday break to catch up with old friends and drink real ales and glasses of sparkling prosecco in a country beer garden, you’ll want to have easy access if you should need it.
Many expats already have a job before they move overseas; whether they’re transferring with their current business or they’ve managed to get a job with a company hiring for specific skills, many visas require you to hold a job offer in order to be eligible. There are a host of UK-based companies that can help people find jobs abroad, as well as migration experts in other countries that can put you in a good position to get jobs and other important factors in place before you move.
Meanwhile, if you’re contracting abroad and not planning on staying permanently, ensure you send your money back to the UK with a broker that gives you a great exchange rate to make the most of your salary.
If you’re retiring early and planning on withdrawing some of your pension for your move, you’ll want to send your money overseas with a great exchange rate that puts a little more money in your pocket. You can take 25% of your pension early, but it’s worth finding out how that’s going to impact the rest of your payments.
On government pensions, you shouldn’t be eligible for tax, but withdrawing early from private pensions could result in taxation. Check out the cost implications of this and calculate it into your living costs to see how comfortable your life abroad will be before you go, so you can plan more effectively.
Cost of Living
While taking home a certain amount of Aussie dollars each month may sound appealing, it’s worth researching the general cost of living in your new country, and comparing it to pounds using the current exchange rate. It’s worth noting that the exchange rate isn’t likely to remain the same – the pound fell 20% following Brexit and has declined to an eight-year low against the euro. As Brexit continues there may be further losses for sterling, meaning it could be a good idea to lock in an exchange rate for up to two years to give you some more stability. This is a good idea for house purchases especially, since it will help you to understand exactly how much you’ll get for your money.
In some countries you may find property prices are much cheaper, yet everyday living may be considerably more expensive. Research the cost of food, petrol, eating out, and energy costs, and factor that into your new income abroad to see how tight or generous your living costs will be.
It’s also worth researching the specific area you’re moving to. If you will be living in an area that’s densely populated by tourists you may find that the costs of living are higher, whereas more remote or less touristy areas should have cheaper prices. If you are living in a touristy area or somewhere with a large proportion of holiday homes, you may also want to consider which facilities will still be open and accessible during off-peak times throughout the year.
When you’re moving overseas it can be a good idea to look at the currency your chosen country uses and see what affects it. While the pound is largely influenced by economic data, central bank comments, and currently Brexit, other nations such as New Zealand, Canada, and Australia have currencies that can be affected by commodities such as dairy, oil, gold, and iron ore. The prices of these commodities can correlate to the value of the currency, meaning you have another factor to consider when transferring your money overseas.
An exchange rate can also make a huge difference to how much money you get, so looking into the rates both banks and brokers are offering is an essential starting point. Brokers specialise in currency, so they tend to offer great rates and a personal service with a dedicated point of contact the whole way through your money transfer journey.
If for instance you wanted to send £300,000 overseas with a pound to euro (GBP/EUR) exchange rate of 1.10 you could receive somewhere in the region of €330,000. On the other hand, a slightly less competitive rate of 1.07 would only get you something around €321,000. Speak to a currency expert about the most opportune times to transfer to help ensure you get a great rate.
Moving Money Abroad
Whether it’s a one-off overseas money transfer for a house purchase or a group of regular smaller payments, using a broker to move your money overseas can be a great way to get an exceptional rate, a quick and simple transfer, and a personal service that means you’ve got an expert by your side every step of the way. FC Exchange has helped over 25,000 people move more than £5 billion across the globe, many of whom have left the UK for a new life abroad, or are returning from living overseas and repatriating to the UK. Get in touch and see how you can benefit from the FC Exchange Best Exchange Rate Guarantee.