If you’re considering moving your life abroad, then there are a few things you need to consider taking care of before taking the plunge, though one of the most important is the destination you end up in.
See, it can be all too easy to focus on the paperwork aspects and finding a family friendly property for rent in a good area – without really weighing up which is the best destination for you to settle. After all, taking a holiday to a destination and loving that experience is a very different idea to moving somewhere and living within the local culture as an expat.
In that vein, we’re going to look at a number of aspects to consider about the location, and things you might need to prepare if you are considering life abroad.
SPEAKING THE LOCAL LANGUAGE
It’s okay, as a holidaymaker to not speak the local language fluently as most people in holiday resorts will speak English and your basic attempts to communicate in the local dialect will likely be appreciated; but when you move to a country, and try to set up a new life in a destination without speaking the language fluently, it can be challenging.
It, therefore, pays to start learning the local language well in advance or to head to a country where they speak English. If you’re looking for an easy way to get to grips with a new language then you could try apps such as Duolingo on your smartphone.
If you have kids, then clearly, one of the most important things you will be looking to consider is the quality of education they will have access to, and when moving overseas many people look into the option of “international school”, yet, depending on whether you want to immerse yourself in the local culture to the point of being accepted as a “local” this might not be the best option in terms of social integration.
If your family consists of a four-legged friend, it’s important to recognise that not everywhere treats animals the same way as we do; for instance, your dog might be considered a member of the family to you, but in some cultures dogs are considered dirty and forced to live outside – indeed, in some holiday resorts, dogs are routinely poisoned to cull their numbers.
It’s therefore important to look at how viable this new destination is to bring your furry friend over with you.
COST OF LIVING
If you’re considering moving to a destination where the cost of living is low, then rather than worrying about the cost of living, your focus is probably more on the standard of living – and often, in countries such as Thailand or India, where the cost of rent is a lot cheaper than in the UK, it’s important to look at things realistically, in the sense that if you want to live a “western standard” of life then you will be paying near western prices.
If you’re going to be working in your new destination, then it’s a good idea to consider whether your skills will be in demand – or if you’re thinking of setting up a business, as many expats do, it’s worth bearing in mind that the statistic relating to business failure for startup small businesses quadruples when adding in the factor of starting up a business abroad.
You, therefore, need to be very realistic about the prospect of employment, and ideally, secure a position before heading out to your destination of choice.
Some countries are much easier to migrate to than others, and depending on what skills you have, some countries make the administrative process very easy and appealing… yet, when you’re looking at popular places such as Australia, there are a lot of hoops to jump through and a considerable cost associated with the application process.
Life can be made a little simpler by applying for a business visa (if you have a business that you’re looking to expand into this new country) – though often the easiest route to getting a visa is to be sponsored by a company within that country who is going to employ you. Indeed, an easier option is if you are working for an international company with offices based in your desired location – and it’s a simple matter of relocation.
FINDING A NEW HOME
Finding a new home in the UK can be challenging enough, but throw in a few thousand miles worth of distance, a foreign language, different climate, different laws, processes and procedures – and you’re entering an uphill struggle that turns out well for many people that undertake their due diligence, but can turn into a disaster for others who don’t quite understand the letter of the local law.
Chances are, even though you are wanting to move abroad, you are wanting to keep your connection with the UK in the sense that you probably have friends and family that you will want to visit – or might want to visit you (particularly if you’re somewhere sunny). You, therefore, want to consider how well connected this new destination is to home, with regard to flights and airports.
You’ll also want to consider how connected your location is to other places; as whilst it can feel really nice to live in a rural cottage in the middle of the countryside, if this means you have to drive for one hour to get to the nearest supermarket you might end up feeling isolated and cut off.
The final aspect of connectedness is telecommunication, in the sense that you’ll probably want to live somewhere with a fast internet speed on the basis you’ll be using Skype and WhatsApp to video chat with friends and family. The other thing to consider is the cost of international calls on a mobile phone; the good news, however, is that in most places within Europe you can use your inclusive minutes if you’re on a contract, and in places like Asia there are sim cards you can buy that are very cheap and include several hundred international minutes.
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