So you are thinking of emigrating or have already decided to take the plunge and move abroad? You're not alone, a recent study carried out by the research group GfK found that 1 in 4 Britons would move abroad for a better job, and to enjoy a better quality of life. Whether you are thinking of living abroad for better professional opportunities, to experience a new lifestyle or to join your family, there are a few things you should think about before embarking on your journey.
1. Cultural Differences & Local Customs
Depending on where you are moving, local customs, and cultural norms can differ significantly from what you're used to at home. From the most obvious linguistic differences to variations in attitudes, gestures, and facial expressions, cultural differences can have a huge impact on your daily life. Prepare for some culture shock, and learn as much as possible about customs and etiquette in the new country before moving abroad.
2. Entry Requirements & Regulations
Do you need a visa to enter the country or can you legally work even without a work permit? Regulations and requirements vary greatly, from Saudi Arabia, where you'll need a formal invitation from inside the country for a chance to get a visa, to many EU countries, where you will be free to work and conduct business without any permits. Find out about the specific requirements ahead of time to avoid any delays in your plans. Often if you already have work secured in your new country your new employer will help you with your visa requirements.
3. Job opportunities
If you are a certified English teacher or an IT professional you will probably find it fairly easy to find employment in most countries, but others might have a slightly harder time. If you are planning to work while living abroad, you will have to explore your options, and find out about the permits, skills and certificates you'll need to get a job. This kind of information can be obtained online or from the Foreign Office. If you are self-employed, or a freelancer, find out about tax regulations and any work permits you might need. You should also try looking for a job before moving abroad – this might not just ensure that you already have a job when you move abroad, but will certainly help you better understand your professional options.
4. What will you take with you?
You'll need to find out about the regulations for taking your car, pets, plants and any personal items with you. Usually it's fairly straightforward to ship belongings to most EU countries. But if you are moving to China, or Dubai, for example, regulations can be much more stringent, and your personal items, including computers, books, and DVDs might have to go through physical checks.
5. Living Costs
Find out about the cost of living including house prices, rent, groceries, petrol prices and average salaries in your chosen destination. It is crucial to have an overview of your finances, and to be able to plan for emergencies.
The UK is one of the most expensive countries in terms of living costs, especially if you are from London or the South East, but salaries are relatively high as well. This makes it fairly easy to move to just about anywhere in the world, but you might need to get used to the idea of living on a smaller budget, at least, initially. What is important, ultimately, is to be able to control your finances once you move abroad.
6. How to Keep in Touch
The most important thing is to make your life abroad as enjoyable as possible. Make new friends and get to know the new culture, but make sure to keep in touch with friends and family back home. Call them regularly, upload photos of your new home on the internet, or organise video-calls. And if you are moving somewhere where you might not have access to internet, make sure to ask for their postal addresses. Receiving an actual letter from your best friend or a family member will lighten up those rare days when you are feeling truly homesick.
These are just some of the most essential things to keep in mind before moving abroad, and we'll be covering more topics here on the blog soon. If you'd like to add anything to the list or share your experience of preparing for your move abroad, then just leave us a comment.