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  • Writer's pictureAlexander Beard

Looking to work or retire overseas? Here are 9 practical moving tips

Moving can be stressful even when just changing houses in the same city, so when relocating abroad it’s important to try and make the process as seamless as possible.

Beyond the logistical issues of getting your belongings from one country to another, there are financial, social, and legal hoops you will likely also have to jump through.

The right advice and planning can help to ensure your move is as easy and as stress-free as can be.

So, with that in mind, read on to discover nine practical moving tips.

1. Research international moving companies

Picture the scene.

A local moving firm from your country of origin picks up your worldly belongings and puts them on the plane.

Then, when you arrive at your destination, a different moving firm has lost your booking and leaves you stranded at the airport with everything you own.

Enlisting the assistance of an international moving company helps ensure this won’t happen, as they take care of your belongings from the country you leave to your destination.

When researching your options, search around for a few quotes and read some reviews before deciding. If you are starting a new job and there are other expats in the workforce, ask them if they have any recommendations.

Try to find out who your dedicated contact will be and inform them of any changes or delays to your trip.

2. Open a local bank account

Having a local bank account ensures you won’t pay fees every time you use your card or withdraw money from an ATM.

Although your home bank card may not charge you when used abroad (as many now don’t), you may have to pay a currency exchange fee to the local bank and ATMs can charge either a cut of your withdrawal or a fixed fee, both of which can be substantial.

When choosing a local bank, look for ones that accept foreign payments so you can easily transfer cash between your home and foreign accounts.

3. Get medical insurance

Many countries charge foreigners to use their health services, even if you have residency and the country in question has a public health system.

Health bills can be very expensive, and you never know when you might need to see a doctor or seek urgent attention.

So, you may want to get comprehensive medical insurance before you leave.

4. Familiarise yourself with the visa requirements

If at any time your working or financial situation changes, you may have to apply for a different visa.

For example, some countries only permit you to live and work there if you earn above a minimum threshold.

So, were you to fall below that threshold or lose your job, you would have to quickly assess your options for staying, or you may have to leave the country before you were in breach of the rules.

It could be a good idea to know what the visa requirements are and what you should do if your situation changes in advance, so you have ample time to prepare if it ever happens.

5. Plug into the community (and the electrics)

When moving abroad it is always good to plug in – in both senses of the term.

First, you need to ensure you have the necessary adapters to plug in and use your electrical and digital appliances, as even one evening without your phone or laptop could be a struggle!

Second, and perhaps more importantly, you might want to explore ways of plugging into the local community and networks to help you find a social group and possibly even business contacts.

Check local forums, social media pages, and networking sites to find events and communities that match your personal or professional interests.

6. Learn the language

If people don’t speak your mother tongue in the country you are moving to, learning some simple words and phrases before you move can make a world of difference.

Joining regular lessons once you arrive can also be a great way to meet new people and other expats.

Once you are set up and comfortable in your new home, native speakers will almost always appreciate any attempt to converse in the local language, even when you get things wrong!

7. Check the local tax rates

There may be local taxes that you didn’t know about that could have an impact on how you live when you’re abroad.

Aside from local Income Tax rates, there may be taxes on cars, property, or even an expatriation tax levied by your country of origin.

While these hopefully won’t impact your decision to move, it’s a good idea to factor in such expenses so you have a clear sense of what your budget and savings will be.

8. Transfer your pension

Every country has its own rules for transferring pensions, so make sure you check yours before deciding what to do with your pot.

For example, if you have a UK pension and you want to transfer it overseas, you must transfer it to a qualifying recognised overseas pension scheme (QROPS) or you may face an additional tax charge.

A QROPS is an overseas pension scheme that meets the requirements outlined by HMRC to receive transfers from registered pension schemes in the UK.

A new Overseas Transfer Allowance (OTA) came into effect on 6 April 2024. The OTA is the amount you can transfer from a UK pension scheme to a QROPS without paying an additional tax charge.

The OTA is £1,073,100 for the tax year 2024/25. If you exceed this when transferring funds, you’ll pay a 25% tax charge on the excess amount. 

If you’re considering moving your pension overseas, it could be a good idea to speak to a financial adviser with an international focus.

9. Speak to a financial planner

Moving country can entail changes to your taxes, exchange rate fees, living expenses, and banking, so it is a good time to revisit your financial plan or build one if you haven’t already.

We specialise in working with people who have emigrated or who plan to emigrate and can help you ensure your financial plan is well adapted for the country you’re moving to.

To speak to a financial planner, get in touch.

Email or call us at +44 (0)151 346 5460.

Please note

This blog is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

This article is for information only. Please do not act based on anything you might read in this article. All contents are based on our understanding of HMRC legislation, which is subject to change.

A pension is a long-term investment. The fund value may fluctuate and can go down, which would have an impact on the level of pension benefits available. Your pension income could also be affected by the interest rates at the time you take your benefits.


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