Things to Know Before You Move Overseas

1 Entry requirements to the host country

Do you need Visas just to get off the plane? Are you eligible for a special type of visa for your job or because of your partner’s job? What are the renewal options? What are the restrictions? If you are self-employed, can you legally bring your work to the new country without a permit or special visa?

2 Property and other commitments in your home country

Will you keep your house and rent it out, or sell it? Will you have bills to pay while you’re away? Will you have to pay tax in your home country or just your host country? Do you have pets that need new homes? If there is anyone who depends on you, what needs to be in place for his or her comfort?

3 Property and other commitments in the host country

Will you rent or buy? Many employers will find a house for you. Is there a service contract with the house/flat or will you need to source local suppliers for plumbing, electrics and other help? What is the system for paying the bills? Where do you find supplies for decorating or repairing around your home? What is the best location to find a home? What requirements do you have—access, security, bedrooms, garage, garden, near public transport, near schools?

4 Driving in the host country

Will you need a driving license or an international driving license? Will you need to take a test? Where can you find a guide to road signs and markings and other laws regarding driving? Will you bring your car from home? Will you want to buy two cars? Is renting a car better than owning? Will your company provide a car?

5 Education

What kind of schools do you need? Are you willing to pay for education? How much do schools cost? Are there international schools nearby? DO you know the pros and cons of your child attending a local school? Are you interested in adult education—either for a university degree or for night classes? Is there a class for learning the local language? Does your employer (or your partner’s employer) offer language classes?

6 Networks

What networks are in place for expats? Can you contact them in advance of your move to introduce yourself and get more information? What other ways will you meet people? What hobbies and sports, can you continue? What are the options for volunteering at charities or helping at your children’s school? Can you start a networking organisation?

7 Healthcare and medicine

Will you need medical insurance? Are you eligible for any health benefits? What does your employer (or partner’s employer) provide regarding healthcare or health support? How easy is it to transfer your prescriptions (including glasses and/or contacts)? Will you need to register with a local doctor? Where is the nearest emergency room to where you will be living?

8 What will come with you?

What items are allowed (e.g. pets, house plants, food, alcohol)? What items are compatible with systems in the host country (i.e. electronics)? What items do you want to bring but need to know measurements first (i.e. furniture)? Will you bring your car or is it better to get one in the host country—or do without?

9 Weather/climate

What kinds of clothes will you need to bring? What kinds of household items? Will you need to buy anything before you go or will it be much easier to wait and buy these things when you arrive? Are you mentally prepared for the new climate (e.g. only a few hours of daylight or very hot and humid)?

10 Sense of humour

Do you have a healthy sense of humour? Are you easily offended or are you happy to go with the flow? Do you understand the sense of humour in the host country? Have you watched TV shows or movies depicting comedies typical to that country? Will it bother you if you are laughed at for being different or will you be able to see the funny side?

11 Supplies for kids

Do the kids all have the right clothes for the climate, their favourite toys, and other favourite things to make the transition smoother? What forms and certificates do you need to bring for their application to schools? Have you set up a system for them to keep in touch with friends and family (e.g. Skype, email, personal blogs)?

12 Systems

Most of these you will not discover until you are in the host country. Are you aware that many if not all systems will be different? Do you know some of the cultural differences that will impact on these systems (i.e. a culture that considers it polite to queue will look unfavourably on a newcomer who barges past everyone to gain a better position)?

13 Cost of living

Know your income and get a good idea of your main outgoings before you move. Groceries, rent/mortgage, utilities, petrol/gas prices are some of the main costs, but remember there will be many costs you wont discover until you arrive. Do you have a back up savings kept for emergencies such as a flight home or unexpected costs (e.g. replacing a stolen car, major repairs on a house after a storm, medical costs)? Will any benefits you currently receive from your home country continue if you move overseas?

14 Sharing the vision

If you’re moving with someone else, do you share the same vision of what you hope to gain from the move? Do you both want to live in the new climate? Are you both happy with the standard of living? Are you both comfortable with the level of security? Do you both want to live in the countryside (fewer networks but easier driving and less expensive) or the city (greater networks and opportunities but more expensive)?

15 Adaptability

Most countries are not as convenient as the United States and Canada and many don’t even come close to the UK, Australia and New Zealand. Opening hours, transport, stock levels, delivery systems and waiting times for supplies and services will vary widely. Are you adaptable enough to deal with these differences? Will you be happy to discover what you need, even if it wasn’t what you originally thought you wanted?

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