Before you go

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    • Moving to another country is an exciting decision to make but it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget about important things that need to be done before you go.

      Taxes, local customs and moving your favourite things abroad with you – there’s a lot to remember! That’s why we’ve got it all covered in this infographic which can be used as your to-do list for the move abroad.

      Before you go infographic

      Research your move

      It’s vital to understand differences between countries when it comes to some important things like taxes. For example, in Germany, a single, child-free worker is taxed 39.90% of their salary compared to in Chile where a person in the same circumstances is taxed at only 7% (source: BBC News).

      Another crucial thing to take into account is exchange rates. If you are receiving your salary in Euros but your pension in Sterling, you’ll want to fully understand the implications and keep up to date with any ongoing fluctuation in the exchange rates.

      Other things to consider include the climate differences between home and away, and what kind of clothing you’ll require whether it’s lighter clothes for sunnier climates or thicker, durable clothing for harsher climates.

      Know the social customs and local laws

      Integrating into a new social environment is a major factor in becoming a successful expat. Reading up on local laws and customs can help you avoid any unforeseen difficulties. This way you can be sure you’re wearing acceptable clothing as well as respecting religious traditions and observing the courtesies that come with them. For example, in Saudi Arabia, during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, it is illegal to eat, drink or smoke in public (source: gov.uk). It’s also important to be aware of more specific laws such as, in France all drivers must carry a breathalyser (source: Eurotunnel).

      Failure to abide by local laws and customs can in some cases lead to imprisonment or deportation, so make sure you know before you go! There are plenty of resources online such as Kwintessential work as a guide to etiquette and customs in different countries to help you research your destination.

      Work, jobs and pensions – know your stuff

      One of the first things that you’ll want to confirm is your eligibility to work abroad. Most countries request that your passport has at least 12 months of validity left and many outside of the EU require a visa which can be obtained from the relevant embassy.

      Once you’ve confirmed eligibility to work abroad, the next logical step is understanding how your pension will be affected and how soon you can start contributing to your pension in your new place of work. This is something that can be discussed with your financial advisor in advance of the move abroad.

      Get shipping

      Long before you start to prepare to move, try to collect as much bubble wrap, parcel tape and boxes as possible. It’ll save some time later when you need to focus on travel documents and places to live. Once it comes to the time to move, a good idea may be to hire a relocation company to make the move as pain and hassle-free as possible.

      A lot of expats also advise selling as many of your things as possible. This means that anything that is considered to be disposable or of no value should be sold or recycled, wherever possible. Once you’ve sold, disposed of or stored non-essentials, the next step is arranging shipping whether this is by sea or air. Air freight is far more costly but more reliable and comes with the assurance that your goods are less likely to be damaged in transit (source: Schumacher Cargo).

      Be finance savvy

      Before you go, save every extra penny that you can – it’s never too soon to do so. Develop a budget surrounding the savings you already have, the money you expect to earn abroad, the cost of living and any ‘unexpected costs’. The more stable your finances are, the calmer you’ll be when the time to move finally comes along.

      Then, research the banks in your chosen country. Check whether they issue cards such as Visa and MasterCard, if the bank allows expats to create bank accounts and the financial history of the bank in question. Before you settle on a bank, it’s advised that you are informed about interest rates, fees & ATM availability.

      Don’t be lax on tax!

      This isn’t the most exciting part about moving abroad but it is vital that you understand where you stand regarding taxes in both your home country and the country you’re moving to. Tax obligations are complicated to say the least and depending on where you’re travelling to and from, you may still be obliged to pay tax to your home country for pensions, savings interest and wages.

      It’s imperative that you inform not only your own tax office but your new, local tax office of your intentions to move to find out what taxes you are obliged to pay. If you have opted to rent out your home while you’re living abroad, there may also be tax on the rent you receive.

      Don’t forget your health

      Healthcare is another massively important consideration and it’s one that cannot be left until the last minute. Before you go, speak to your doctor about any concerns regarding health conditions and managing them, as well as prescriptions.

      Even if you have a relatively clean bill of health with no ongoing conditions, in the case of health insurance, it’s far better to be safe than sorry as should something happen, you could be left seriously out of pocket.

      Acquire a little lingo

      If you want to fully appreciate the country you’re moving to, the best way to do it is adapt to everything from the customs to the language. Even if many people can speak the same language as you, it pays to learn the local language – not only is it fun, it can broaden your social horizons.

      There are plenty of resources available for learning languages easily. Currently, a popular choice is the app DuoLingo. DuoLingo and similar apps have a vast array of languages available for learning and improving language skills. These apps have accessible interfaces, adaptable learning approaches and can be used on the go. If you use one of these apps every day in the months leading up to the move, you’ll be surprised at how much you’ve learned and how much you begin to understand the language as a whole.

      Tie up those loose ends

      Once you’ve done everything you can to make the move abroad as painless as possible, it’s time to tie up the loose ends at home. Create a checklist of everything you need to cancel and everybody you need to inform about your new address and when you move into it.

      This means cancelling all contracts and utility bills, paying the remainder of any outstanding bills and letting your local authority know that you’re moving away. If you have a pet that you’re taking with you, ensure that they’ve been micro-chipped and immunised against rabies at least 21 days before travel and that you’ve researched thoroughly to avoid any trauma for your pet.

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