Top factors to consider when thinking of becoming an expat
Choosing to become an expatriate and moving to a new country is a huge commitment, both for yourself and your family. However, it is also a very exciting opportunity that can reap financial and personal rewards in the right location.
If you’re thinking about relocating, we have put together the top factors to consider before undertaking any international move.
New working environment
Different countries will have different approaches to business. While many countries may follow a Western approach, it is important to be aware of different working customs in the country that you are relocating to.
For example, some countries may have traditionally longer or shorter working hours than you are currently used to, may have less holiday time or have an expectation of overtime. There may also be some cultural customs that you should be aware of, which can be particularly true if you’re moving to somewhere like the United Arab Emirates. By way of example, if you are considering working in Dubai, hierarchy is formally observed and dictates the order in which you should greet clients or partners at meetings.
Adapting to a different culture
There is a lot more to adapting to a new country than simply knowing the local language. While it does help if you can speak the national tongue in non-English-speaking countries, it takes more than speech to truly integrate with a new community. Many countries have deep-set beliefs, customs and traditions that bond a community together, which is something that cannot be understood without living in a new country for long enough. However, an open mind and willingness to learn goes a long way, as well as a certain amount of research in advance. Our international moving guides can be a good start, giving you an overview of your proposed destination.
Family life and education
If you are planning on becoming an expatriate with family, there are more considerations to make. If you have school-age children, then education is likely something that is high on your priority list to research. Most popular expatriate countries will have a number of highly regarded independent schools, which will be experienced in helping children adapt to a new country.
If your children already attend a private school in the UK, there may be an equivalent in your chosen destination, or they might be able to recommend good options that will allow for a continuity in education. You will also need to consider things like childcare facilities for pre-school children, and opportunities for a partner if they will also be looking for employment upon relocation.
Paying for healthcare
While many of us already opt for private healthcare in the UK, one of the benefits of living in this country is having the back-up of the National Health Service to offer free and subsidised emergency and long-term medical care. When moving to another country, it is important to have an understanding of the healthcare provisions and quality of care in your destination.
The quality of healthcare can vary a great deal from country to country, as can the overall cost of a comprehensive healthcare plan for you and your family. This is something that should be taken into consideration before becoming an expatriate, especially if you are moving with younger children who may require medical attention throughout their lives. As well as healthcare, you will need to look into dental care and emergency care provisions.
Financial concerns and salaries
Another important consideration to make is how the move will impact your personal finances. Many popular expatriate countries offer high salaries and favourable taxation, but you should always consult with a financial advisor with experience in your country of choice to help you navigate the tax systems and arrange your affairs.
If you will have financial concerns in both the UK and abroad, you will need to arrange to pay the right amount of taxes in the right countries. Many expatriate professional positions will also come with a relocation package, which may include some provision towards healthcare, childcare, education and housing. This package, plus any benefits, should be taking into consideration when negotiating a salary for your new role.
Integrating and building relationships
Moving to a new country can be quite overwhelming, especially when it comes to building a new social network from scratch. It may be that you have already had some business dealings with the country you are moving too, which can give you some contacts to start out with. Otherwise, it can be worth joining expatriate forums online, where you can begin to network with others who live in the same destination. This can be useful for getting advice and learning more about the neighbourhood you intend to live in. Some forums worth taking a look at include BritishExpats.com and ExpatFocus.com.
There are inevitably a number of practical concerns before committing to a position overseas. You will need to decide whether you wish to retain a property in the UK, or whether you will be selling your current home.
Moving abroad, alone or with family, requires a good international removals service to get your household belongings from A to B, as well as help you navigate the administrative tasks and paperwork that comes with an international move. You may also need to consider storage for larger or more valuable belongings, long term or short term, either in the UK or in an international storage facility close to your new home.
Our Pre-Move Checklist is a useful resource to help you think about these factors.
If you are considering becoming an expatriate and want to discuss moving to your new destination in more detail, contact us today to find out about our international packing, shipping and storage solutions.