Deciding to move abroad will not be a split-second decision for most people.
If you’re thinking of becoming an expat you probably have a destination country in mind, but you’ll also be thinking how you make the move a success and how you make sure it doesn’t cost you your life savings.
With the help of our handy checklist and a little smart planning, moving abroad doesn’t have to be difficult.
1. Choosing the right destination
A really important part of moving abroad is choosing the right place to move to. You may have already fallen in love with a country and are ready to move, hence you reading this guide, but have you had a good look at the affordability of your new destination?
Before you commit to moving abroad make sure that you have chosen a country that offers value for money in terms of property prices and the cost of living, as well as economic and political stability.
Use the FairFX Property Abroad Cost Calculator to discover the affordability of your chosen destination. The calculator compares the average price of a property in over 30 countries, based on the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment. It also factors in the cost of buying a car overseas and a year’s worth of petrol, utilities and daily essentials such as food and drink.
2. Paying for your property abroad
Whether you’re buying or renting, you’ll need to transfer pounds from the UK to pay for property costs. Whatever costs your transfers are for, make sure you plan ahead to get a better rate.
Leave your transfer to the last minute and you’ll be forced to use the exchange rate on the day, and you could end up paying more than you need to. Start looking at your options now and shop around, remembering to compare providers on a like for like basis.
With our latest Buy & Hold Money Transfer service and a little smart planning, you get a lot more control over your currency transfers. If you know you need to make a Money Transfer at a future date (for a mortgage payment or to top-up your foreign bank account), you don’t have to simply hope for a good rate on the day you send the money. You can move your money smarter, and choose when to lock in the exchange rate.
“How does that benefit me?” Head here for a rundown on how the feature works.
3. UK tax requirements
Sorting out your tax bill might not be the most exciting part of the checklist but it is a must. Depending on your residency status you might still be eligible to pay tax in the UK, and if you’re being taxed in more than one country you may be eligible for tax relief. You’ll also need to consider things such as UK savings accounts and any ISAs that you hold.
Either way, you’ll need to notify HMRC that you are planning to leave, and notify the tax authority in your new country of your situation in terms of income and assets. Make sure you understand tax rules in your new country as an expat. Get advice from a local financial adviser who understands your requirements and can help ensure you don’t fall foul of local laws.
Head to gov.uk for further guidance on your UK tax requirements.
Touch wood that you’re in good shape and won’t need any medical assistance in your new destination, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Make sure you’ve looked into registering with the local healthcare provider before you go, or at least understand how to register within a few days of arriving.
If you’re leaving the UK permanently you’re usually not entitled to NHS healthcare in the UK. Most people usually aren’t entitled to use their UK-issued EHIC card either.
In Europe your eligibility for medical care should be the same as that of local citizens (this could change post-Brexit negotiations). Further afield, while your protections will typically not be as strong, Britain does have special agreements with a number of countries.
Make sure to look into this before you go as you may also be required to pay for private medical insurance or make contributions into a national scheme. Head to the NHS Choices website for further guidance.
5. Money when you touch down
If you have ongoing expenses and direct debits in the UK (or you plan to return in a few years) you might want to keep hold of your UK bank account for any Sterling transactions back at home. Contact your bank for assistance with access from abroad.
But if it is a permanent move you’ll most certainly need to open a bank account in your new country of residence. For starters this will prevent you having to do a currency conversion every time you buy a pint of milk or a latte. To set up a bank account in your new country, contact your chosen bank before you touchdown, it’s likely that you’ll need to register in person but at least you’ll be able to book an appointment and find out what documents you’ll need to present.
6. Final few essentials
It feels silly to even say it but make sure you have printed copies of all your travel documents and any papers for your new home when you land. Immigration control may ask about your visa and your new address. These documents will also help you quickly get set up with a new bank account and register with local services and healthcare providers.
Make sure you plan ahead with your driving license. The UK partners with a number of countries where you can simply switch your existing UK license for a local license, if you have the relevant driving experience – you might still have to do this exchange in person though. And whether you’re exchanging or applying for a new license there may still be a few requirements such as eye test, theory or practical exams.
Don’t forget that you may still be eligible to vote in UK elections, particularly important if you’re keeping your UK citizenship and planning to return in the near future. UK government policies will continue to impact your savings, pension and any UK property or assets…so it’d be nice to still have a say.
Find out more about the simple, fast and secure FairFX Money Transfer service and lock in a rate for your next international payment, today.