By Chris McMurphy
Many of us who live in financially secure countries and have good jobs and a bit of cash in the bank sometimes flirt with the notion of packing up and moving abroad.
In fact, according to a 2009 NatWest survey, 87% of British citizens who were planning on moving to another country assumed they would be better off. But many find that the reality of expat life isn’t all cabanas and Mai Tais. Yes, unexpected considerations, both financial and social, often rear their ugly heads after touching down on new soil. And it isn’t just folks from England; the same could be said of those from the United States, Australia, Japan, Argentina, or any other country that is home to folks looking for new digs abroad.
The trick to a successful relocation lies in the pre-planning, and that means research. More to the point, it means understanding all the little traps and pitfalls that are so easy to overlook before reaching the intended destination. Here are just a few of these considerations:
Many expats often gloss over the local codes, as pouring over this type of data hardly makes for exciting reading. And besides, it’s the 21st century, right? How different can one country be from another? Turns out, pretty different. For example, those who hop on a plane to Singapore best be prepared to pick up the mantle of national cleanliness, as gum chewing, spitting, graffiti and pornography are all banned — sometimes even punishable by jail time and/or corporal punishment.
But that’s merely one example. All countries have different cultures and different laws that exist within those cultures. Best to know the score beforehand.
One of the more stark realities for foreigners in new lands is navigating a different system of health care. This can be particularly jarring for residents of the UK (as they are covered by the NHS) who find themselves in countries with a health care model more similar to the U.S. (private insurance based.) Individuals and families in new countries will likely have to buy monthly health-care policies, which can range anywhere from double digits to thousands of dollars per month, depending on the nation in question. This is a cost point that must certainly be added to the relocation budget.
Those moving abroad are likely dealing with a local developer or real estate agent. Oftentimes, these folks will have a ready list of contacts for legal advice. Don’t take it. It’s always best to obtain independent legal council in the country to which a person or family is moving. To this end, the British government has put out a very helpful list of English-speaking lawyers/translators in a number of countries.
Gotta pay those freight and duty costs. The question is, how much is too much? Those moving to another country are likely bringing over at least one automobile. Items like this can cost thousands of dollars. More importantly, there are taxes and duty costs for all imported items to consider. It’s always advisable to leave these considerations to a professional customs broker rather than trying to take care of import/export logistics on one’s own.
If expats keep these four considerations in mind, they should be well prepared the moment they arrive in their adopted country.
About the Author: Chris McMurphy
Chris McMurphy is a copywriter for Platinum Freight Management and a freelance blogger who specializes in the areas of travel, business, and online marketing.