Right now, millions of us are gazing wistfully out of the window, looking forward to the time when the Covid-19 restrictions are but a memory. With all this time to think and dream, many of us are thinking about moving abroad when it’s all over. Perhaps this period of reflection is a reminder to live the life you’ve always dreamed of, and for some, that means packing up life in the UK and heading off to a popular destination overseas.
If you’re thinking of moving abroad, aside from the dreaming part there are a number of practical steps you will need to take into consideration. We’ve complied a checklist that’ll give you a head start to planning your overseas relocation – and these are all things you can research or sort out without having to leave your home.
First things first - assuming you know where you want to live, you’ll need to research the visa requirements for moving there. With the UK leaving the EU it is no longer a simple case of upping sticks and hopping on a ferry to the Continent, but neither is it impossible to do so if you meet all the requirements. For most EU countries you’ll need to prove that you have a certain amount of money at your disposal, as well as a way of earning an income when you are overseas.
If you’re thinking of moving further afield than Europe – say Australia or Canada – then visas can be more complicated, costly and time consuming. Give yourself plenty of time to conduct the research, and employ a migration agent if need be.
Of course, you’ll need to make sure your passport is up to date and is not about to expire, and you might also want to check out the rules for driving licenses in your new country.
It’s vitally important that you really look before you leap when moving overseas from the UK. Perhaps you are already familiar with the area from previous visits or you already have friends there. In any case, make use of any resources available both online and offline.
For a start you should read up as much as you can about the country and consider buying books about it. Make use of social media by joining local expat pages ahead of time and asking for help and tips - or check out expat sites such as InterNations: there is nothing like expat local knowledge to help you avoiding mistakes when you move abroad.
These days you can do the majority of your international house hunting from the comfort of your living room. If you plan to buy a property abroad then know your budget but give yourself plenty of leeway for unexpected expenditures and hidden costs. Research the process for buying property as a foreigner, and seek recommendations for a trusted solicitor from people who have already made the move from the UK.
You might decide that you would rather rent a property to start out with, giving you time to settle in and look for a property at leisure. If so, compile a list of suitable looking properties and check out the local laws and customs when it comes to living in a rental property.
The flip side of this is, of course, getting your UK property ready for the market. Make sure it is in a good saleable condition and get an estate agent to give it the once-over and a valuation just so that you know how much to ask for and how likely it is that it will sell quickly.
When considering relocation overseas you’re going to have to decide what to bring with you and what to leave behind. The best thing to do is write a rough inventory of everything you own – such as furniture, clothes, kitchen appliances etc. – and estimate how much volume it would fill. Once you have done this, get a quote from an international removals firm to see how much the shipping costs would be.
On this basis, decide what to bring on your international move and what to leave behind. If it makes sense, rent a storage unit and put some or all of your stuff in it – you can always move it at a later date. Offset this against the cost of buying new essentials, such as beds and wardrobes, in your new country.
Various online price comparison calculators will show you how much you can expect your utilities and food bills to be when you move abroad. Compare this to your average monthly UK expenditures and see how much more/less money you will have once you have made your international leap.
Of course, on the other side of the equation, try and get a rough idea of how much you will likely be earning in your new home. If you have a fixed income from, say, a pension, make sure this will be enough to cover your expenditures, allowing for swings in the exchange rate. European destinations tend to be cheaper than living in the UK as a rule of thumb.
Do you have a furry friend (or several)? You’re likely going to have to get them each a pet passport, which shows their vaccinations are up to date and they are in good health. Each country has different rules for importing animals, so check them out ahead of time.
Moving abroad with your pets can be a challenge. In the simplest case, where you might drive them over to Europe in your own car, the rules are relatively simple. But if international flights are involved you will need to be aware of the often stringent requirements airlines require for pet travel, which might include custom sized cages and tranquillisers. It may also be the case that your cat or dog will need to spend some time in quarantine - here, research is the key to a safe and stress-free journey for your furry pals.
This might be the most boring step on the checklist, but it’ll save you a lot of trouble in the longer run and give you peace of mind. Be aware that you need to inform the UK tax authorities of your intention to move, and fill out a P85 form from the Inland Revenue. This informs them of your income tax position on the date you leave, and you might be entitled to a tax refund (if you are lucky).
Along with the P85 you’ll also need to include Parts 2 and 3 of your P45 from your employer, or send a Self-Assessment tax return if you are self-employed. This can only be done by post and not online.
At the same time you should look into the tax arrangements for expats. There are numerous online guides that will help you with this, or you can employ the services of a tax advisor abroad if you think your tax situation may be anything other than straightforward. If you remain a UK resident for tax purposes you may have to pay tax on your UK pension, if you have one.
The next thing on your checklist is to ask others in online expat forums if they can recommend a good bank. If there’s a clear consensus, make enquiries with the bank about opening an online account with them ahead of the move.
It’s important to have both a UK bank account and one in your new home country as this will make transferring money abroad relatively simple. To that end, make sure you sign up to a currency provider so that you can avoid paying the often hefty charges levied by High Street banks, and get a good exchange rate to boot.
If you are going to be transferring sums of money abroad to buy a house or a car then you’ll want to do it as painlessly as possible. This also applies if it's just a regular sum of money, such as a pension. Naturally we recommend using Currency Solutions for all your currency transfer needs when you make an overseas move.
Not every country has a national health service, and in any case you may not be entitled to the full range of its services unless you become a full citizen. In some European countries, the EU's European Health Insurance Card may not be valid for UK citizens from 1 January 2021. To that end, consider taking out private health insurance before you arrive if it gives you peace of mind.
Some countries will insist that you have a medical certificate to prove you do not have any underling health conditions, and may further require that you are up to date with a range of vaccinations. Again, use online forums to find out what others who have gone before you have done, and consider asking the UK embassy of your new country for an information pack regarding health policy.
Yes, the last item on our checklist is as simple as that. A leaving party will give you a chance to say goodbye to friends and family, and give them a chance to send you off in style as you relocate. You can plan the party right now! Whoever said that moving abroad couldn’t be fun?
Moving abroad is exciting but it can be pretty overwhelming, too. We’d love to help you transfer your funds – with excellent exchange rates and minimal fees. Below are three services you might find useful. Get in touch if you have any questions.