How to Manage Life as an Expat on the Other Side of the World
If you’re moving abroad, you’ll have plenty of things to organise for the move itself, from obtaining visas to choosing the best removal company. That’s only the start of the process, though, and adjusting to your new life can be complex, even when it goes well. There are both practical and emotional adjustments to make, but bearing a few things in mind can help smooth the process.
Managing your financial affairs depends very much on where you’re going. If you move somewhere like the EU, the USA or Australia, your bank may have a presence there, although there may still be differences in the way finances are managed. Somewhere like China or the Middle East, you could need to set up your financial affairs again from scratch.
It’s vital to remember that you may be liable for tax in both the UK and your new country. Even if you’re registered for tax as a resident in your new home, any assets you hold in the UK, from rental income to dividends from shares, will be liable for UK tax, while income earned in your new country will be taxable there.
Ideally, you should visit a country before moving there, but even if you’ve done that it may seem different to live there. It’s generally best to rent accommodation for the first year, while you find a location that really suits you.
A new country can be lonely at first, especially if you don’t speak the language well, and there’s a temptation just to seek out other expats. While it can be useful to have contact with people further down your own road, you’ll get little benefit from moving abroad without immersing yourself in the local culture. Use your interests, or even the process of learning the language, to make new friends who can help you learn how things are done there.
In the same way, if you have children, they’ll adjust far quicker if they’re in a local school than an expat one. Children adapt quickly, and they may end up helping you learn about your new home.
What you do is important, but your mind-set is even more so. While your British background should remain important, and may be of interest to your new friends, if you think of yourself as an expat, that’s what you’ll remain.
Moving abroad can be a great adventure. Unless you throw yourself into it and embrace your new home, it may never become more than an extended holiday.