Living abroad

Once you have made the decision to move abroad, be it with work, retiring or just to pursue a better life for you and yours, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. You will have read our guides on buying property abroad and working abroad!, bought your property and be on your way.

This prudent Minds guide has written to help you consider some of the practical issues that may arise, as well as some of the problems, such as how your partner will cope and how children living abroad manage

Practical things to deal with before moving abroad

Before you go, make sure you have:
1. Inform HM Revenue & Customs and ask about your tax liability.
2. Decide whether you need to open a bank account in your new country. Read our working abroad guide for more advice on this
3. Inform your social security office and provide contact details.
4. Find out about health care costs and ensure you have adequate health car cover
5. Inform your doctor, dentist, vet etc of your move
6. Find out about any welfare rights that you may or may not be entitled to
7. If you are keeping your property in the UK and renting it out, you will need to inform your mortgage provider, insurance company etc
8. Consider how you will keep the property safe
9. Contact the local councils electoral registration department to advise them of your move.
10. Notify your utility providers so that you can settle final bills and give them contact details
11. Organise a re-direction of your post through the Post Office
12. Give contact details to banks, building societies, insurance companies, investment companies or any other institution with which you have a policy or contract / agreement.

Children and families living abroad

Despite all your planning, moving to a new country is a unsettling and difficult experience. No amount of holidaying or working in a country can prepare you for the isolation of living permanently in that country. Your partner may feel very restricted, especially if they have been used to working, and it will take time for them to make new friends, whereas you will meet new work colleagues.

Finding a school abroad needs careful planning. Children do adapt to new situations much easier than adults, but a lot of consideration needs to be given to where you will school your child. Not all countries have state education and you should consult the education authority in your new country for details of places available. You need to find out what education your child will be entitled to. Find out whether they need residency before they can attend. Many countries will have English speaking schools and this may be an option for you. remember that the school day and holiday pattern will differ from that of the UK.

Some schools will need to see the child’s vaccination certificate so make sure you have found that before you travel. Some schools will require a copy of the birth certificate, which will need translating in some instances.

Generally, older children will find it more difficult than the younger ones, to adjust. Teenagers will have a stable set of friends and a routine, and they may resent leaving these behind. Some education authorities run exchange programmes to allow your child to explore their new environment in advance of any move.

The ex-pat community

Of course, it is important for you to settle in to, and integrate into, your new community. In reality, this may take a few months, and finding and making a new social network is never easy. It is important for you to try and adopt your new culture, go to the park with the children and speak to other parents, and go to the local market when it is in town. Remember, the local community are probably as curious about you as you are about them, so invite them over for a traditional British dinner.

Despite doing these things, there is a wealth of experience to be gained by finding the local ex-pat community. Ex-pats have been through everything you are going through, they know the ins and outs of the locals, they know how things work, and they know where to find things you crave (like proper toilet paper!)

Ex-pat communities around the world have websites and blogs where you can ask questions and learn more of the advantages and disadvantages of your move, so join one of them while you are still in the UK and get some real, on the ground, advice from your ex-pat community.

Leaving the UK for the last time

Of course you will come back for holidays, special occasions etc, and with the world wide web, Skype and social networking sites, no-one need ever be isolated from their family anymore, but for your friends and family, as well as for you, this is going to be a big change.

The days and weeks before you finally move will be very busy, but make time for your family and friends. Visit them and make firm plans as to how you will keep in touch. It is tempting to leave little things behind, they take up valuable space, but take photos of everyone and take them with you.

Once you are living abroad, make sure you have a routine of keeping n touch. For closer family members and friends, agree to invest in a webcam and contact each other at agreed times. For those not quite so close, send postcards every couple of months or take photos of your new place and keep them in the loop.

Your move overseas will no doubt be fraught with problems, have times when you wonder whether you made the right decision and you will often feel isolated, but by following our guides, making a real effort and by embracing the change, you will soon become on of the ex-pat community giving advice to others.

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