What to think about when moving abroad

What to think about when moving abroad

While contemplating a move overseas, selecting a new location and new vocation can be a daunting task. The decision to relocate to an entirely new place, more so with other family members, is not just a matter of settling the current property, household items, or paperwork required for the move. The relocation decision, no matter in which stage of age, involves a lot of careful planning and important considerations before taking such a major step. Relocation not only affects the head of the family, but it also affects each and every family member who will either move or stay back. One has to take major decisions about supporting the other family members, arranging for such matters as international health insurance and international life insurance, new tax planning, and many other essential issues.

Once a person has confidently selected a new location and made arrangements for his livelihood in the new location, the next thoughts that may naturally come to new his mind are whether his daily life will be smooth in the new place of stay and whether he will be able to assimilate with the new environment and culture. If a person decides to slowly plan out the transition, then a lot of headaches can be saved later.

Tasks to complete at home

Here are some common tasks that you, as an expat. must be prepared to handle and complete back home once the decision to move is final:

  • Have you taken care of all the necessary paperwork required for the move?
  • Have you completed the official procedures to be inducted into an international medical insurance and an international life insurance plans?
  • Have you made arrangements for your properties and designated someone to take ongoing responsibility for monitoring your investments? These days, it is not too difficult to directly keep in touch with your banker, investment firms, or investment brokers back home from a foreign land.
  • Have you managed to sell all your old furniture and other useless household items?
  • Have you made plans for those that you have not sold?
  • Have you made arrangements for your aged parents back home for living and ongoing healthcare facilities? Have you taken sufficient health insurance for your parents?
  • Have you decided who will take your plants or pets if you have any?
  • Have you talked to your local post office and forwarded your future mails?
  • Have you left your new contact information with some key people in case of emergencies?

Additionally, Expat Info Desk’s Organizing your departure provides some useful advice on taking care of urgent matters at home before moving out.

The common concerns of an expat

The article 10 factors to consider when moving abroad (expatheather.com/2010/05/11/10-factors-to-consider-when-moving-abroad/) brings out the typical concerns of a new visitor to a place who is not there just for a vacation but for permanent stay:

Will the local climate be suitable?Most expats from western countries may not be able to handle the high tropical temperatures of parts of Asia and Africa; while people from hotter climates may perish in the extreme colds of Russia. Many expatswith allergies may find it difficult to survive in rainy or windy locations. Most outsiders cannot handle the pollution or traffic congestions of Indian metros, let alone expats from foreign locations. The coastal locations that get frequently flooded or get hit by hurricanes can sound life threatening to foreigners. 

How much is the relative cost of living?The cost of living in a new place may theoretically sound great, but once you begin living, your opinion can change very soon. Expats accustomed to certain lifestyles get easily disappointed in a new place when their daily needs are not met. Also, the living expenses are easier to handle when you have a fantastic pay package. If the remuneration package is not good, or if the expat does not have stable employment, life can turn into misery. The only groups of expats shielded from the cost-of-living factor are fully sponsored students, rich retirees, or well employed foreigners. Thus it is always better to arrange for such essentials like an international medical insurance to cover yourself and your family against expensive medical emergencies.

How good are the living accommodations?Has your employer taken full responsibility for housing orare you expected to go home hunting when you reach the new destination? What other amenities like utilities, club house, gym, swimming pool, or tennis courts are available with the living accommodation? Will you have to buy new furniture or can you rent them? Who will pay to ship your personal belongings from your home town?

What are the available transportation facilities?Is the new location a metro, a small town, or a rural area? Will you have access to employer provided car and chauffeur? Is the mass-transit system reliable and economical? Are essential businesses like grocery, banks, hospitals, or the pharmacist within walking distance of home or office? If one has to quickly reach an Attorney’s Office from home, is that possible?

Which languages are spoken or understood locally?The language spoken around town and in local businesses should be a major concern because the expat and his family members have to get by in their daily lives. It is good to research the new location properly on the Internet, so that you either learn the local language or prepare to brave it through once you arrive at the new location.

How far are the healthcare facilities or pharmacists? Ongoing healthcare is of critical importance to any family, and an expat family is no exception. It is not only important to know where are how far the local hospitals, diagnostic centers, or other health centers are located, it is also important to know whether your international medical insurance and cash-less card will be honored at the major facilities.

What are the social outlets and cultural barriers?Many global locations do not have a strong expatcommunity or support network. In that case, you or your family members will be forced to mingle with the locals. In a large metropolitan city, the inter-racial population may be easy to blend with, but in interior locations, the locals will not be friendly! You should research the local culture well to know whether expats can survive in the cultural environment of the new location or they will simplydrown in loneliness after work. You have to know about the surrounding culture, social restrictions, available clubs or gyms, and nighttime activities.

Are there any good shopping facilities?In absence of a regular social life, shopping may become a pastime for your expat family. In the western hemisphere, urban areas offer many shopping paradises, but in remote rural locations or natural settings in backward countries, it may be difficult to shop for things that you are used to. If you have lived in New York city all your life and then decide to retire in a remote village in South India, you better make sure you have access to digital stores to shop from. The good news is that due to the immense growth of e-commerce, you may be able to shop for your necessities online from any location on earth, provided the location has access to reliable telecommunications network.

Experts for Expats provides a moving checklist targeted at UK-based expats, but the guidelines provided in this article can be applied to any expat planning a move to a foreign location. The article provides some valuable tips on understanding the expat’s visa and residence status for tax purposes, and how to prepare for these changes before leaving one’s home country. The article serves as a good reminder for those essential items like tax planning, handling property and investment matters, international medical insurance, and banking in a foreign land.

Internations has an excellent article titled “What it takes to move overseas” which says that while a move overseas can be a rewarding experience, it requires tremendous planning and willpower to ensure that the transition is smooth. For example, in third-world countries, the costs of maintaining a lavish western lifestyle can be exorbitant. Thus, westerners moving into Brazil or Bangladesh must be willingness to adapt to a completely different lifestyle or have excessive amounts of money to support an affluent lifestyle that they are used to. This article also points out that when you move abroad, financial stability is the key to success. To face unexpected emergencies like a fatal accident or a long sickness in the family, you must have adequate international medical insurance and international life insurance.

The expats who retire abroad

More and more, couples who have saved up a lot of money during their working years may want to retire in far-away exotic locations. These couples are more adventurous than average folks, and wish to explore new pastures for their twilight years.The article titled “Is retiring abroad right for you?” at money.usanews.com is targeted at those adventurous expat couples who find the concept of retiring abroad intriguing. The thought of moving to an entirely new country and living ata fraction of their current living costs motivates many American couples to retire in places like Mexico, Delhi, or Bangkok! The transition may be lot tougher than it appears, and most Americans or Canadians are willing to be guided at the retirement-planning stage. However, thanks to the digital age, information, vivid photographs, and live videos on any location are easily available in abundance. When moving to an economically backward nation, the retiree expats must get the international medical insurance and international life insurance from their home countries before leaving.

What if some unexpected disaster takes place during their journey to the new location?

Information resources for global expats

The International Living magazine and website are devoted to expatlifestyles around the globe. The recently published The International Living Guide to Retiring Overseas on a Budget is a valuable source of information for American retirees exploring foreign locations for permanent stay. Other good expat information resources are ExpatExchange.com, Live and Invest Overseas, and some other third-party sites dedicated to sharing information about expat life.

One word of caution: Though many exotic locations in this world sound like a paradise when you consider the natural surroundings and the local cost of living, but do not forget the hurricanes, the mosquitoes, the tornadoes, the traffic, or the pollution that come with it! Visiting a place for a vacation can be fun, but living permanently as an expat can be an altogether different experience.


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