Theres already loads to sort out when you buy a new home, but if youre moving abroad, your to-do list just got much longer. While no one likes tackling a daunting list of chores, you should get everything ticked off in good time so that moving day itself is as stress-free as possible.
With figures from the Institute for Public Policy Research suggesting nearly one in ten Brits now live abroad, be it for work or a dream retirement, youll at least know youre not the only one jumping through multiple hoops to get things done.
This list is not exhaustive, but it covers the key items you need to consider. Such as…
Well in advance of buying property overseas, you need to make arrangements for your finances to switch seamlessly from the UK to your new country of residence.
Youll need a new bank account. Some of the big banks have accounts for expats, but each country differs from the next. During one of your property fact-finding trips, its worth seeing a few of the local banks to see what they offer and what youll need to open an account.
Investigate the most cost-effective way of sending money abroad, perhaps for your property purchase. You might be able to avoid some hefty fees using a foreign exchange service like Foreign Currency Direct.
Your private pension should not be affected by your moving. Youll also still be entitled to your state pension, providing youve made enough National Insurance contributions. However, you need to inform the International Pension Centre of any move and keep in mind that your state pension may not rise alongside the retail price index in some parts of the world.
As far as taxation goes, contact HMRC to inform them of your move. It may be youll only need to pay local taxes in your new country, but if you have investments at home, perhaps a rental property, youll still need to pay your dues here.
If in any doubt its worth retaining an accountant to advise you of your obligations and to make you as tax efficient as possible. Every pound saved helps towards your new golf club membership!
As soon as you have a moving date, inform your utility companies and make whatever arrangements are necessary to read meters. Make a list of all contracts that need addressing, and deal with those that have long termination periods as soon as you can. Look at mobile phone contracts, broadband and television services, gym membership etc.
Its amazing just how many belongings we accumulate, and its when you have to pack them up that you realise the amount – and how much of it can be realistically binned or sold/given away.
As soon as you have the green light for moving abroad, book your removals company. The choices for international removal companies are more limited, so give your preferred company as much notice as possible. What sort of service you need will depend on how far youre going. France and Spain can be a road trip, while shipping is required for further afield.
Start packing as soon as its practical to do so because you dont want to leave yourself with a last-minute panic. Choosing what to take with you for living abroad should be part of the excitement of looking forward to your new life.
One of your biggest investments is in your car. Will you take it abroad with you, or sell it and buy a replacement locally? And if you have a personal lease vehicle, what steps do you need to take before you can hand the keys back?
Whatever you decide, you should be able to drive abroad on your UK licence or by purchasing an international driving permit. Websites like the AA motoring organisation will advise on the best course of action for your country.
In some cases, you may need to apply for a local licence and even take a new driving test.
Pet travel regulations vary between countries, and your dogs, cats, and strangely enough – ferrets – will need micro-chipping, vaccinations, a pet passport and, in some cases, placing in quarantine. Thankfully, in Europe the rules are standardised. See the Government website for more information.
Your pet may become agitated as moving day arrives, so make sure you keep some time aside for reassuring cuddles.
Just because youve moved to another country, it doesnt mean you cant have a say in affairs back home. You can register as an overseas voter provided you have registered to vote in the UK within the past 15 years. If you turn 18 while living abroad, you can still register, so long as your parent or guardian has registered in the UK in those 15 years.
Everything so far has been necessary but rather admin heavy. If you still have some spare time, why not prepare for your new life abroad by learning the local language?
Polish up on your French, Spanish or Portuguese in advance of moving day, and youll find your first few months far more rewarding.
Whats that? Youre moving to America, New Zealand, South Africa or Australia? Then instead spend some time reading up on the local history and culture so you can make the most of it when you get there.
Saying your goodbyes can be hard, but before you do, make sure to give all your new contact details to your friends. If your new home happens to be somewhere hot, by the sea and within easy travelling distance, youll be surprised by how many of your pals will want to come and visit.
Seeing friends will be a lovely element of your new lifestyle; the chance to catch up with the news from home while playing host to them in your new surroundings.
Dont be daunted by how much you need to arrange before living abroad. There are many people just like you who do it successfully every year. The key is to prepare as thoroughly as you can ahead of moving day itself.
Head over to our moving abroad section for more information about how to move abroad!
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By Jessica Roberts
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