7 Things to Consider Before Becoming an Expat
Does the thought of moving to a new country, meeting new people and having new experiences get you all excited?
So it should!
However, it is imperative that you do a good bit of research to fully prepare yourself for what you are about to do. All countries are different, even if the language is the same, and things may not be as easy as you once thought.
Here are the top things you need to consider before taking that leap to move to a new country and become an expatriate.
Know where you want to live
Does the sound of a lovely, rural village in a warmer country sound like the perfect place to live for you?
You might be wrong.
These lovely rural villages are appealing for one big reason – expats do not move to them.
They are more likely to be harder to settle in. The locals may not understand you, and you them. Job opportunities may be low and the language may be difficult.
We would recommend that you start with a larger city to help you adjust to the new location. Once you are familiar with local customs and the language, perhaps then it would be best to move to that small village.
Settling in may take longer than you thought
Have you ever moved home and had to wait a month to be connected to the internet? Now try and do that when you do not have a local bank account or a local phone number.
You may not be able to get a bank account because you do not have a permeant address, and you can’t get a permeant address because you do not have a bank account.
You get where we are going with this…
It is best to expect things to move slow. You never know, you might then be surprised rather than frustrated!
Each country has its own set of rules for moving to it. If you are moving for work, some countries will need you to have employment in place before moving, or have a particular set of skills before being allowed to settle. Others will not.
If you are looking to retire abroad, most countries will require you to prove that you are wealthy enough (by their individual standards) to be able to support yourself or to be sponsored by a local resident.
Do your research well in advance to make sure you can actually move to the country you desire.
There may be sexism or homophobia
You may currently live in a country that is very accepting of homosexuality, and men and women are treated as equal, but there are still a vast number of countries that are still not quite so accepting.
Few are as extreme as the driving bans and imprisonment you hear about, but causal sexism may take you by surprise. These could be comments about someone’s looks or putting a person down because of their gender or sexuality. These things may not be regarded as inappropriate locally, but may make you feel uncomfortable.
All countries are evolving, but not all are at the same level. Be prepared to have to bite your tongue at times.
It is often a requirement when being granted a VISA that you have appropriate health insurance. Some countries may have a national health service, but not all of those will allow an international resident to use it.
It is always advisable to have health insurance in place when becoming an expat to guarantee that you have access to adequate healthcare, particularly emergency cover.
Medical costs abroad could be anything from a few hundred pounds to tens of thousands of pounds or hundreds of thousands of dollars!
Make sure you have the right cover so that you are
- Covered when needed
- Not left with crippling debt or unable to pay for care
If you need help or advice in taking out international healthcare cover, we would be happy to help. Give us a call on +44 (0)207 590 8800
Cost of living
You must take a good look at the cost of living when considering moving abroad.
Whilst property prices may be a lot lower in other countries, this may mean that the cost of living may be higher or the wages lower. Similarly, do some further research if the property prices are a lot higher than what you are used to as this may be reflected in the money you are likely to be earning.
Do you have an exit plan?
When moving abroad it is unlikely you would be thinking about running back home at the first sign of difficulty. However, circumstances change and there may be a need or reason for you to return home.
Do you know where you would live if you had to return? Will you have money or property in your new location that you will need to bring back?
It would also be advisable to have a backup fund should the need to return home quickly arise.
Moving abroad is exciting, many of us at HCI have done it ourselves! Understanding the niggles and considerations for moving abroad will just make things that bit easier when you do take the plunge. Good luck!