10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Moving Abroad
If you’re an expatriate-to-be or considering moving elsewhere, these are the key questions you should be asking yourself before buying those airplane tickets.
Are you thinking about moving country to begin a new life elsewhere in the world? While the prospect of endless adventures and trying out new things is a strong enough reason, you need to make sure you've considered everything before packing up and jet-setting off. So from us to you, we've come up with ten main points that you need to sit down and go over before booking those plane tickets.
1. Location: Where do you want to move!?
When considering to move abroad, just like buying a new property, location is probably the predominant factor in your planning process. Have you ever visited your chosen location – does it live up to your expectations, and are they accurate and reasonable? Do you need to do more research into the place, as you may have only been there as a tourist. Or if you have never been to your chosen destination before, do you feel like you have all the relevant information? And have you exhausted all of your sources of information? For instance, you may want to contact fellow expatriates on websites and forums such as ours, or ask anyone you may know who lives there. Ensure to ask family, friends and acquaintances their experiences of visiting or living in your chosen location. You can also find expatriate guides for the country. It’s important to make sure that any career opportunity you may have is not undermined by the reality of the destination you are planning on living in.
2. Motivation: Why are you moving? And how motivated are you?
There are both good and bad reasons to move abroad. For instance, moving to further your career and/or experience another culture are good motivations to jet off to another country. And while it’s handy, earning a high salary should not be your only reason for moving. Neither should be better weather or wanting to live for cheaper than you currently are. Of course, the latter factors help the situation, but shouldn’t be the sole reason for your move. As an expatriate, you will invest a lot of time, money and energy in your move and settling into your new life, so ensure there is a good, long term return for all that effort!
3. Language: Can you speak the local language?
Without a doubt, it comes in handy when you learn some key phrases before you go, and perhaps start lessons when you arrive. You will be surprised at how much more enjoyable living in your new home will be and how quickly you will be accepted, and let’s not forget how polite you will seem, if you engage with the locals in their own language.
4. Taxation: What rate of tax will you be paying?
It’s important to make sure you get accurate information from trusted sources on how much tax you will pay, as this will hugely effect your income. You may want to check whether your expatriate destination has a reciprocal agreement with your home country, so you can avoid double taxation? Expats in the United Arab Emirates do not pay tax on their income, however those in Japan will pay a whopping 45% tax on their salaries! Countries like the United States of America will tax their citizens wherever they are in the world. Each country has a different taxation system, so make sure you’re clued up.
5. Financial Planning: Can you handle an emergency?
There may be a point in the future where you may need to make a sudden move back to your home country, or require a hefty amount of funds for an emergency. Plan carefully so you have sufficient amount of funds during your transition period abroad, and leave money at home in case you require a financial lifeline. If you own property, it may be a wise decision to rent it out for a period, until you are sure of your move and know where you want to live.
6. Family: Are your family happy with the move?
If you are an expatriate-to-be with a family, be patient; while expatriate life may be full of excitement and opportunity for you, it may also involve a lot of upheaval for your family members. Help them and provide support with their transition by highlighting the positives, provide information about your new home, and find ways for them to integrate into the educational system, local clubs and communities that support their interests, likes and dislikes. It’s also important to not forget about those you’ve left back in your home country; we’re fortunate enough to live in a time where the ease and accessibility of the Internet allows us to use social media and internet calling sites and apps where you can call or video call your family members instantly.
7. Healthcare: Can you rely on the local healthcare service, or do you need private insurance?
Some countries offer outstanding healthcare for expatriates, while others none at all. You need to find out whether your existing healthcare insurance cover will keep you insured? And if not, you need to research the costs and factors this against your new remuneration package.
8. Community: Can you connect with people once you arrive?
Clubs, societies, events, churches, galas, concerts, coffee mornings, sporting associations… They’re all great ways to join a community as soon as you arrive in your new home. Although scary for some, going out on your own to meet new people, it can make the difference between feeling alienated and accepted in those difficult early weeks of your new expatriate life. Nowadays, it’s easy to make friends and organise meet-ups online websites, however you must take caution when meeting people you have met over the Internet.
9 Costs: Do you really know how much things will cost?
It can be hard to predict what you will spend on food shopping, utilities, petrol and the rest. Make sure to do you research carefully so you know exactly what to expect.
10. Attitude: Will you embrace expatriate life?
The most important question of all is quite simple; will you embrace the expatriate life and experiences, and keep a positive outlook no matter the surprises that await you? It’s inevitable; there will be times where you just want to give up, but you should try to maintain a positive attitude and determination. It’s important to remember that you’re not the only fish in the pond doing this – there are plenty of other, great people who have been or going through exactly what you’re experiencing as a new expatriate. There will always be someone to offer helpful advice.