Living and Working Abroad

A recent BBC report revealed just how popular a decision living and working abroad has become. Even though the decision to become an expatriate, to pack your bags and leave your home country is an enormous and very far reaching one, the report claimed that up to 500 British residents a day are leaving the UK with the intention of spending at least a prolonged period living abroad and that a large percentage of those who move abroad do so before retirement. The remainder leave with the objective of finding suitable employment with the possibility of permanent residency.

There are three main areas of consideration worthy of your attention if you too are planning on living and working or retiring abroad, and this article details them in brief for you.

First Area – Which country fulfils all of your lifestyle requirements best? What are your reasons for moving abroad? If it’s the cost of living or you dislike the climate, that will eliminate certain countries immediately. Do you speak any foreign languages – if yes think about the countries where those languages are spoken because it’s a fact that if you move to a country where they speak a language other than your own, only those who make an effort to learn the language find it easy to settle down to life quickly. And frankly, the older you are, the harder it may be to learn a new language.

Are you moving by yourself, or is there family involved. This will mean you have to consider health and education facilities in your new country. Will it be easy for your friends and family to visit?

Think about the cost of living overseas – where can you afford to live, where would you like to live – do the two meet up? Remember – if you want to live in the local economy you may have to live off the local economy, that will probably mean lower income with lower purchasing power. The cost of anything is relative to the amount you earn after all!

Second Area – Which overseas country offers you the most appropriate or best employment opportunities? Have you got a specific skill or vocation, for example are you a doctor, lawyer, hairdresser or electrician? Do your skills and qualifications translate in every single overseas country and are your skills required in some countries but not in others? Will language be a barrier to your skills and if so, do you need to learn a foreign language or move to an English speaking country?

Alternatively if your skills are transferable around the world what would you like to do and in which countries can you work in a profession or job that suits you? Think again about the local economy, how much your skill will earn you – will that be enough to live on – will that be enough to allow you to afford to travel home one day? Many people move overseas and price themselves out of their old economy and cannot then afford to move back home.

Some countries like Australia, New Zealand, the US and Canada have residence, visa and work permit permission restrictions. Can you overcome these hurdles and do you have the most in-demand skills to obtain a work permit or residence visa. Something else to consider is the taxation implication of moving abroad to a given country – some countries have even higher and more restrictive taxation regimes that the UK or USA for example, on the other hand a country like Dubai has no tax on personal income!

Third Area – Consider the practicalities of relocating to your ideal country and finding somewhere to live. If you’re moving abroad to live overseas for a long period how easy and affordable is it to find rental accommodation? Will you rent furnished or unfurnished – which is more common? Either way will you need to buy furniture or place your furniture in storage – think about the extra costs associated with setting up your accommodation? If you’re relocating for good you may want to one day buy a house of your own – if so, are foreign residents allowed to buy freehold property in the country you’ve chosen? What are house prices like, how easy is it to secure finance to purchase? If you’re moving a long way away how will you ship your personal belongings with you? How much will it cost? Would it be cheaper to sell off your possessions and buy what you need in your new home?

Conclusion – As you can see, the considerations you need to make before moving abroad are many and are also far reaching. Hopefully this article has given you some food for thought. If you can answer each of the major questions posed above you will be well on your way to living and working abroad and becoming a fully fledged expatriate before you know it!

Michael Russell

Your Independent guide to Relocation []