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Everything you need to know about moving abroad

There are so many things we wished we would have known about moving abroad. The process itself, as exhilarating as it may be, can very quickly turn tedious if not done correctly. Living abroad can be fun and full of new opportunities which could result in an endless adventure. This is the dream. Or at least, this is our dream. We moved abroad ten years ago when we left our home countries to relocate in the UK. We are now leaving the UK so we can start yet another chapter.

For the purpose of this article, we want to share with you how to move abroad. We want you to enjoy a smooth transition from one country to another. This can apply to anyone wanting to start over by living abroad. There are a few things we learned along the way and we want you to be prepared right from the start and know what to expect. Things change forever when you live overseas and that's perfectly ok. You will endure some paperwork, stress and a house with no furniture for a few days. We hope that in the end, you will sip cocktails, celebrating your new home, abroad.

You Could Travel Enjoy the Sunset Mahe Seychelles

Are we moving abroad, my dear?

The decision of moving abroad might come as a struck of genius or it might happen as a result of a long chain of events. You can read more about why we chose to leave the UK if you are interested. It wasn’t an easy decision, and it happened after living here for a decade. We have friends who moved abroad because of breakups, work opportunities, political issues, new friendships, the pursuit of adventure and what not! The point of the matter is that anyone has their own reasons for wanting to live abroad and there is nothing wrong with it. One thing, though, if you ever, even for a second, think that you would want to live abroad, then start taking action right away. Start saving money to move, or start searching for a job, find rental apartments or get the paperwork going for your work permit. The worst you can do is daydream about possibilities and do absolutely nothing to make it happen.

As with everything this important in life, moving abroad comes with a lot of considerations. You need to be sure this is what you really want and are prepared to make some sacrifices. Living abroad is a total change of lifestyle. You will have different food, different locals, neighbours, customs, traditions, weather, animals, plants and governments. This applies to the EU as well. Just because you are moving from the UK to Spain, there is so much to consider, is unreal. Make a comprehensive list with all the pros and cons. Once you are absolutely sure, it’s time to start the process.

It took me several days of being incredibly unsettled, before one morning, I woke up and said: “It’s time! Are we moving abroad, my dear?” And thus, our new adventure began.

You Could Travel Lush Vegetation Mahe Seychelles

Where to move, where to live abroad?

Once you decided to move abroad, you have to pick a location. There are so many things you need to consider before you can even begin creating a list of potential new places. One of the most common mistakes expats do is too little or no research about the place they're about to move to. It’s one thing to be visiting the Algarve and another to live there.

It could be great for kids to explore Singapore, but is that the place you want them to go to school? Japan is great for tourists and first-time visitors, but how will you deal with the prices, customs and food? Is it just you, or do you have a partner? Do you have a child you also need to cater for? Are you a digital nomad or do you need to find work abroad?

All these things must be carefully considered and thought through. For example, our dream is to live in Japan, but because of the current immigration laws, we need to settle for a place in Europe. We knew we wanted some place warm, with great local produce, ideally by the sea. We wanted the place to be relatively cheap and with good internet connection as we both work for our own company. We also needed a place with a great international airport, because we travel a lot. After a lot of considerations, we decided to give Portugal a try. We are on the lookout for our next best base.

Word of advice: If you don’t like living abroad, don’t force it. Simply pack your bags and either go home or move locations, somewhere better catered for your needs. You Could Travel Houses Bath

Bye Bye, ya old rusty house

No, not literally, because I live in a rather nice house in the Bristol suburbs. I love my house so much, it was one of the main reasons why I didn’t want to move again. It took us ages to find this gem, with a kitchen larger than the garden. Because boy, I love cooking!
But then I got to my senses...I’m renting, this isn't even my home.
Which brings me to the first thing you need to do: check your rental agreement.

In our case, our contract was due to end on the 18th of February, so we made sure to give our notice at least one month in advance. Most contracts have a clause which tells you when your contract ends and how much notice is needed. If in doubt, always contact your landlord or your agency through which you rented your home. Knowing this will also help you set up a date for your moving abroad. In this process, having an exact date is crucial! Don’t forget to tell the agency that you are moving abroad, so you can get your security deposit via check or bank transfer, depending on your preference. Most agencies will ask for a forwarding address, so best to tell them about your plans just in case.

If you own the house, you have two options. You can either sell your house (either privately or through an agency) or rent it out. If you sell your house, I suggest that you sell it via an agency. This is because you can leave everything with them without delaying your departure.

If you decide to rent your house, also consider an agency, because things can go wrong when you least expect them to. You don’t want to be woken up by a phone call from the other side of the world, telling you the boiler broke down. Consider your options and think about them carefully. Have a solicitor help you with paperwork.

Even if you own a house, you still need to select a date for your move. Best to allow at least 1 month to get everything sorted (and more if you need to find a job abroad).

Whether you own or rent, you have to notify the local authorities that you are moving away. This is to avoid paying for things whilst not using them. Unless you want to wake up with a massive fine or a court order at your doorstep, you have to notify EVERYONE that you are moving abroad. The same applies to all companies (e.g. the gas, electric, the internet and any other supplier you are using for your house).

Mahe hut Seychelles

Find your new fairy palace abroad

By now you should know where you want to move to and when you are leaving. Time to turn the internet upside down, and find an epic new home! Please consider your budget before you commit to anything. We are cautious people, so we recommend renting a flat through AirBnB (this link gives you £25 off your first stay!) or Booking for about 2 weeks. This should give you enough time to find a long-term rental once you are already at your destination.

Pictures online can be misleading, so never commit to some months worth of rent before you see the place for yourself. Better to pay a premium for 2 weeks, stay in a short term apartment and be safe. Imagine having to live in a house which by no means looks like what you saw online, it’s dirty and grimy and you have no real knowledge of how the local authorities operate, nor you can cancel the contract. This will automatically make you hate living abroad. Best to be smart and avoid these scenarios at all costs.

Of course, book your one-way flight as well. I suggest that you don't book with low cost because some operators offer a better luggage allowance. On this occasion, although money is a key factor in purchasing your flight, the airline luggage allowance is of the essence.

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Flights

  • Kiwi - for incredible flight deals
  • Expedia - for hunting flights and hotels
  • Momondo - fab for great rates
  • Skyscanner - for price comparison

Accommodation

  • AirBnB - if you need £25 off your first stay
  • Booking.com - for ease of finding apartments with free cancellation
  • Agoda - great if your destination is Asia
  • HotelsCombined - fantastic for price comparison between all providers

Secluded Beach La Digue

Work, work, work...and play

Without work, there is no play, because having a job is crucial in any part of the world. There are several jobs you can apply for whilst living abroad, but make sure your visa allows you to do so. It is crucial that you find work before your arrival or you have enough income to support yourself whilst you are hunting for a job. I am a strong believer that you should always have backup plans, hence I am not very keen on “let’s just go and we’ll figure it out”. Please ensure the country you are moving to has a good economy and the unemployment rate is not on the rise. Ensure you can get work from various sources if you are a digital nomad. Make sure you have options. The more, the better.

In our case, we are moving to Portugal, which has serious problems with its unemployment rate. Hence, finding work in Portugal (especially off season) could be as difficult as finding the needle in the haystack.

Don’t worry, though, there are lots of jobs you can do as a traveller. You can start by freelancing online for example. You can sell your digital skills, teach English or find seasonal work. Just be smart about your options.

Madeira Santana Sea Balance Cory Lifestyle

Medical Insurance - Because health first

If you work, you usually get medical insurance. I’m talking from my personal experience here, as I understand this isn’t the case in countries such as the USA.

If you don’t work, you might have to access private medical care. It all varies from country to country. If you are lucky enough to be from the EU and move to another EU country, get the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). It’s free, sent to you by your government. Your EHIC gives you the right to access state-provided healthcare at a reduced cost, or sometimes for free, on the same basis as a resident of that country. Pretty neat, huh?

Your EHIC won’t cover you for private medical care, nor for rescue or being flown back to your country. So you still need some comprehensive travel insurance if you want some extra peace of mind. Remember to check with your local doctor if you need any jabs for your destination country. You might also have to provide some health certificates from your local doctor upon arrival, especially if you are flying from a country with several health risks.

Tell your doctor about your departure, so they can better guide you in the process. Once you arrive at your destination country, you might want to consider registering with a local GP (general practitioner). Of course, this varies from country to country, so do your homework to know what are the requirements.

Frangipani Flower You Could Travel Seychelles

Driving Abroad - Did anyone say "road trip abroad"?

We absolutely love land travel, and if I could, I would drive anywhere and everywhere. Of course, my dream is to drive across the world in a Tesla, but until I can afford to buy one, I’m going to stick to what I’ve got. I’ve always rented cars pretty much everywhere I’ve been. I did a 2 weeks tour in New Zealand, enjoyed driving in the Seychelles and tested my skills on the challenging roads of Madeira. All of this was possible with my UK drivers licence, but, did you know there are so many countries which ask for an international driving licence? Say, whaaaaaat?

No, really! I had to go and get one for myself. I am planning on driving in Japan and I had no idea I needed an international driving licence for this. Moral of the story? Check the country you are moving to and ensure your driving licence can be used. The good news is that most international driving licences cost a minimum amount of money (mine was £5.5) and are valid for a year. You will then have to renew it, but that offers plenty of time to register with the local authorities and get your paperwork sorted if you chose to settle.

Click here for a list of the countries accepting International Driving Permit

Roads in Mahe Seychelles

Bank Accounts - Because you are priceless

Oh, the financial aspect of living abroad. What joy! We are still a bit confused about this one. Obviously, the point is to open a bank account in the destination country to avoid foreign bank charges, but until then, what is one to do?

We recommend trying to pay by card, everywhere you go! For example, you might want to check with your local financial institutions, which debit or credit cards allow you to have zero fee foreign transactions. Most credit cards charge you 3% of your transaction plus the exchange rate. This is a lot and I promise, it adds up quickly!

We found a credit card from one of the UK banks which allow us to pay a nice 0% on all foreign transactions. This is golden for when we are abroad, of course. We simply use our Amex or Master Cards and pay it back at the end of each month. We also collect Avios points this way. Win-Win!

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The downside? We still pay for the conversion. So we found an ever greater way to save when we are abroad, with the post office money card. This card enables us to pre-load it with any amount we want, and use it in the local currency. The Post Office gives us a great conversion rate, one of the best actually, and allows us to pay 0% fees.

I know there are several cards such as the ones above available for various world citizens. Amex is well known to have crazy good cards for American citizens for example.

There is still the problem of getting money out from the ATM. We understand that a lot of countries still rely heavily on cash (e.g Japan), hence, no credit card or magic pre-loaded card will save you in these instances. At the beginning of your trip, make sure you have a healthy sum of money in the local currency, just to be safe. Eventually, you do need to simply open a bank account so you can enjoy financial freedom. If you come across a solution for this problem, please get in touch!

You Could Travel Vallee De Mai Praslin

Send me that letter, will ya?

I mentioned the post office, so, it’s time to discuss your mail. Again, depending on your circumstance, there are several things you could do. If you have family who lives in the same country, you can simply redirect your mail to their address. This will be useful as you have someone you trust who can open your letters, scan and send them to you. Make sure you cancel all your subscriptions. Change your address to the new redirect for all official letters, including your bank account. If you close all your accounts, then you shouldn’t get any further letters, but it’s always good to set a redirect, just in case.

For those of you who have a business or wish to keep some sort of correspondence address in your current location, there are some options for you too. You can get a PO Box and redirect everything there. You can ask the PO Box people to send you your letters or parcels abroad on a regular basis, for an extra fee. Alternatively, you can get a registered business address, where someone will look after your letters and do the same, send them to you on a regular basis for an extra fee. These options cost, but it’s a great way to still keep an address in your country.

English Castle Walk Tropical Flowers Cory

Register to vote or the whole world will trump your ace

Once you get to the new country, please don’t forget to register to vote. You want to exercise your rights and in order to do so, you need to let your governments know of your new residence abroad, so you can receive a ballot paper.

Sell everything, but your mother

You are moving abroad, yay! It’s time to sell everything. I mean, everything. I recommend starting with the wardrobe. This will be hard, but remember that you should aim for keeping 2 pieces of luggage worth of stuff you can bring with you. Although I’m not saying this is compulsory, I usually say that living abroad means starting fresh. I advise that you only keep the strictly necessary, especially to begin with. If you need to keep anything, try and leave some boxes with family and friends, or in a storage facility in your country.

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We started by sorting the clothes we want to keep, the clothes we are throwing and the clothes which wanted to sell. Then, we repeated this with everything. I went through my makeup and threw away anything I didn’t need. I then took pictures of every single piece of item in the house which was going for sale. Starting with flip flops, dresses and sweaters and finishing with furniture, plates and pans.

Start by selling the items which you don’t need on a daily basis. For example, we had a spare room with a sofa, a desk, some chairs and a wardrobe. We sold them first. We sold the clothes which we didn’t need. We then sold our conservatory furniture. Slowly we moved onto the bedrooms, hallway, bathrooms and living room. We left the desks (for work) and the kitchen items for last. Our house is pretty much empty now, apart from our bed, a sofa, our desks and kitchen items.

A little advice? Sell everything!! If you find anything which looks decent...put it on eBay, gumtree or a local online store. It’s better to try and sell your items and get some money out of it than throwing it out without even trying.

You Could Travel Indian Ocean Seychelles

Don't you fit into that box!

Now that you have an idea how much stuff you will have with you, I suggest that you order some boxes. This, if you decided to leave anything in storage or with your family/friends. Either way, it’s time to buy your suitcases. Make sure you have a good, sturdy suitcase. Invest in quality, this is the time for it. Optimise the space, hence I recommend getting the biggest suitcases you can carry on board and check in. Here are the suitcases we just bought and love.

Pack only what you need

As you sell your items, I also suggest that you start getting your luggage ready. Time will go so fast, you won’t even have a chance to blink. It’s imperative that you take time management seriously when you’re moving abroad. The earlier you have everything done, the better.

Clean up your mess - literally

Because you have to give your keys away on the last day of tenancy, you should ensure that your house is spotless, so you can get all your deposit money back. Arrange for a cleaner to come around and professionally clean your house for you. Because your house will be entirely empty, apart from your suitcases and some boxes, it should be fairly easy and cheap.

The cleaners should be booked quite a while in advance, though, in order for you to benefit from cheaper prices.

The colours of Mahe Seychelles

Make your last arrangements

The last two items which you will have to sell, are your car and your bed. We are now pretty much ready for everything, so we are in the process of selling our car. Make sure you consider your sleeping and transport arrangements for the last day, before heading to the airport. Organise for taxis. Book your hotel in advance if you wish to sell your bed/mattress before handing over your keys back to the landlord/agency.

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  • AirBnB - if you need £25 off your first stay
  • Booking.com - for ease of finding apartments with free cancellation
  • Agoda - great if your destination is Asia
  • HotelsCombined - fantastic for price comparison between all providers

"We shall see the crumbs of bread...and they will show us our way home again"

There have been cases when others really didn't like living abroad. It's normal. You may find yourself missing your family or friends. You might miss your customs, your food, your usual coffee place. There is no shame in wanting to go back to the basics. It is important that you sort all paperwork, and resolve all debt before you leave your country, precisely for this reason. I know many people who are stuck in one place because their home country awaits with too many problems.

How to deal with homesickness

If you don't wish to go back but are going through a period of adjustment, I have a few tips for you. I suggest that you buy a new pillow. Yes, it might sound silly, but buying a good pillow will enable you to sleep well. Once you start sleeping well, your whole perspective on the new place will change.

Dance alone! Get some dance tunes on and boogie! Shake that booty with a pocket full of sunshine. Put on a killer outfit, and go get a coffee, or go window shopping. Fill your soul with confidence. You are awesome! And if it all fails, go to a nightclub, and dance. Don't look around you, don't pay attention to anyone else. Just be in the moment, close your eyes and dance alone. Kissing a stranger, having a shot of tequila and a story to tell the next day, sure makes this better, but that's beside the point, especially if you are married (in which case, drag your partner to the dance floor!).

Romantic honeymoon Mahe Seychelles

So long, and thanks for all the fish

I hope you are now better prepared and more informed about moving abroad. As enchanting as it may seem to live abroad, it comes with a few sacrifices, a lot of planning and great time management skills. Don’t worry, though, it’s all worth it, especially when you finally find yourself settled in your new house, by the beach, or wherever your dream destination takes you. I’m wishing you a smooth transition.

Do you have any experience moving abroad? Is there anything you would like to add to this article? Please let me know in the comments section below.

Please note that some of these links are affiliate links, which means that if you decide to purchase anything through them, I will earn a small commission which helps me keep this website free and fun for everyone.

Responses

A
Aanchal Iyer
10 Feb 2017

Bingo!!!
These are super-fantastic things to know.
By the way loved all your pictures, especially with the gown you wearing during the sunset, that has turned really beautiful. :-)

S
Suzannah Freeman
11 Feb 2017

I needed all of this advice. We're planning on moving away next year, just to another country in Europe to start with, but we've got big plans once we've settled into the lifestyle. The thing is, I'm a hoarder and have SO MUCH STUFF - I've gotta downsize and I just can't bring myself to start doing it D:

F
Flo @ Yoga, Win...
11 Feb 2017

Great checklist, Cory! One thing about moving abroad that really got me in a pickle was the local tax. I had been quoted a salary pre-tax deduction and nearly had a heart attack when I actually received my first cheque. Won't be making that mistake again!

K
Kyomi (Wading Wade)
11 Feb 2017

Wow this is so useful! I've moved abroad myself and you've definitely touched the bases here on what you need to think about. I'm looking forward to following your journey ❤

D
Doro
11 Feb 2017

Great post! My sister actually moved to Japan - it was her dream too :)It wasn't easy though, she first started volunteering as an English teacher, which later turned into a full-time position! You never know, sometimes things just work out, maybe you'll find a way to move to Japan as well :)

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Sarah
11 Feb 2017

Great advice - thank you for sharing such detail and insight!

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Alice Chen
11 Feb 2017

Great post! Definitely important are health insurance and money. I don't know about the UK but in the US, the Schwab High Yield Checking Account is the best! No ATM fees, no currency conversion fees - AND they refund ALL ATM fees that other banks charge you! It's really incredible.

C
Cliodhna Ryan
12 Feb 2017

Just about to move abroad so this is exactly what I needed. And you just reminded me to get my international drivers licence. Thanks for the great tips!

K
Katalin Waga
14 Feb 2017

Great list, we did (most of) them before 'moving out'! :)
For us also the cash issue was problematic. Luckily we can pay by our cards without fees abroad, but ATM use has +2% charges... We decided not to open accounts in every country, it would be too much hassle. Time to time we take out cash, in 'safe' countries pay by card, if possible we pay for accommodation online more months together (when we stayed longer) helped to cut the extra costs.

R
Rajkumar Gaikwad
18 Feb 2017

Seriously the tips are worth reading.
Thank you Cory for such off beat information.
and yeah the pictures are so beautiful, loved it.
Keep posting :-)

H
Haylee
26 Feb 2017

I'm moving to the UK mid-year and there's so much that I still need to organise. Thank you for sharing your tips!

f
faye
28 Mar 2017

This blog is so good! I have returned from a holiday to Amsterdam and been thinking I want to live there for a while and you have just confirmed I need to do it! Love the tips! Keep writing. You're encouraging people to follow their dreams I love it.

K
Kathy Nunn
10 Jul 2017

Moving abroad and starting over in a new country is one of the most terrifying yet exhilarating adventures ever and there is so much to think of! Making a checklist definitely helped and ensure that you allow extra time for anything which may go wrong/take longer than you thought! Hiring a relocation specialist is definitely recommended. It is natural to make mistakes when you are involved in such a big relocation, but as long as you get everything sorted in the end that’s all you’ll remember in the long run! Believe me.

N
Nikki
04 Jan 2019

Thank you so much for your articles!! They have been extremely helpful and provide a wealth of knowledge - including many things I hadn't thought of before. Best of luck to you and your husband in Portugal!