Moving abroad can be extremely exciting and in the rush to get overseas and start living the high life it is really easy to overlook some important tasks. Here is our list of five things that every expat should do before moving overseas.
1) Make sure you have enough cash
Even with a great relocation package, fantastic benefits in your host country and the promise of a high standard of living abroad, you’ll soon find out that moving overseas can be very expensive. There are plenty of costs associated with a relocation and these will vary according to your personal situation. Such expenses may include shipping all your belongings, relocating your pets, air fares, temporary accommodation costs, purchasing new furniture, utilities and household goods in your host country, legal expenses and potentially even dual taxation.
The lucky expats that are provided with a relocation budget often find that it is quickly spent and those that fund the expenses for an overseas move themselves soon surpass their initial budgets. The rule of thumb is to make sure that you have enough money in the bank to cover every element of the move as well as funds to cover your living expenses for at least six months when you get there. Being broke is no fun, especially when you are in a foreign country far away from the support network of your friends.
2) Have all the correct paperwork in place
Moving abroad is usually accompanied by a large amount of paperwork, red tape and bureaucracy. It is crucial that you fully understand exactly what documentation you will need to have in place to enter and settle in to your host country far in advance of the actual move date. Not only can arriving in a country far away from home without the correct paperwork be somewhat of an inconvenience, it can also mean that you are sent immediately back home on the next available flight. Worse still, finding out that you don’t have the correct visa or legal documentation several weeks into your move may even result in imprisonment in some countries. Moving abroad isn’t the same as going on holiday. You’ll need different paperwork, legal documentation and authorization. Make sure you research your host country’s requirements several months in advance and that you are 100 percent sure that you have covered all bases.
For more information see our expat destination guides.
3) Set up your finances
Online banking and international banking organizations has indeed made living abroad much easier than it once was. However, your finances will not automatically organize themselves and you will still need to put a lot of effort into setting up accounts in your host country, ensuring you are tax compliant in both your host and your home country, analyzing currency risks, planning investments and paying bills. For more useful advice, see our guide to Four Financial Mistakes All Expats Should Avoid.
4) Decide what to purchase in your host country and what to ship
Depending upon where you are relocating to, you may find that many of your existing belongings may not actually be of use to you in your host country. For example, if you currently live in Canada and are relocating to Singapore, you may want to leave a lot of stuff behind: your furniture will probably be too large for the small apartments in Singapore, your clothes will be too warm and there really will be no need for your sledge. Carefully think about every item you ship and, if you’re not convinced that you will need it in your host country, leave it behind. You may also wish to research the cost of general household goods in the country that you plan on relocating to as, in many cases, the cost of purchasing the same items there may actually be lower than the shipping expenses. Even if your moving expenses will be funded by the company that you work for, bear in mind that you will have to find a place to store all the items once you have relocated.
5) Get appropriate insurance
We bleat on about this on a regular basis but you really shouldn’t not underestimate the importance of ensuing that you have appropriate travel and medical insurance that fully covers you for the entire duration of your move abroad. For further information, see the following articles:
Types of Expat Insurance Plans
Expat Medical Insurance Glossary
Did we miss anything? What did you overlook when you moved abroad and what were the consequences? Leave a comment and tell us about your experiences.