10 Tips for a Successful International Move
Written by Shelley Slater on Friday 3 January 2014
Moving home is said to be one of the most stressful events in a person's life. When you're moving to a different country, that stress can increase. There's a lot you can do to help make your international move as stress-free as possible.
Of course, choosing the best removal company for your move is key to a successful relocation, no matter where you're going. We've taken a look beyond the physical move, and here are our top 10 tips for a successful international relocation.
Do your research and avoid costly commitments
Whether you're moving on your own, to join your family, or are being relocated by your employer, to avoid expensive mistakes you need to research the area you'll soon be calling home. If you don't have a relocation agent, do as much research as possible online and by talking to people already living in the city or area you plan on moving to, preferably other expats.
Try and get as much information you can about the local areas you're considering, and if possible visit the area before you move.
If you've got children, don't forget to investigate schools, play groups and access to other activities that are important for a family.
Utilise expat forums and communities online as much as possible, you'll get a good flavour of life in your new country and priceless advice - and perhaps make some friends before you even arrive. Keep in mind that expat forums are also places where people feel safe to talk about their homesickness, or what they don't like about their new home, so don't be detracted by negative comments or sentiments you might read without probing them first.
Even after your research, once you've moved in, you might find the area or home you've chosen doesn't work for you - and if you've already purchased a home, you could be unhappily stuck with a decision you made without knowing all the facts. If you've rented somewhere to live on a short-term basis, you're in a better position to move into a home that suits your needs better.
Make sure your visas and residence permits are in order
No matter how straightforward your situation is, unless you're a citizen of the country you're moving to, you'll probably need to arrange for visas, work permits and residence permits. Without these, you won't be able to open a bank account, register your children for school, etc.
Visa and permit requirements and processing vary with every country. Document requirements may take some time to fill, especially if you need to present original documents with your application. Processing times also vary considerably. Be sure to understand well in advice what you'll need to provide, and how long the processing will take.
Keep in mind that European and Swiss citizens may require residence and work permits in some European countries, so be sure to know what's required of you before you arrive.
You'll need to have your permits and visas arranged before your belongings can be transported to your new country, as they're required for customs clearance into your new country.
Prepare well in advance for moving your pets
Perhaps even before you arrange your own visa and permits, you should be starting on the paperwork and any vaccinations required for your pets in your new country. If you're required to place your pet into quarantine, be sure to know your options, investigate the quarantine options, and try to talk to people who've brought their pets into the country. If you're moving overseas, you may want to consider a professional pet transport company to smooth the path for the furry members of your family.
Keep in mind that in some locations, finding a pet-friendly rental home or apartment may be difficult. Try and make as many connections via friends or family already there, expat forums and communities and/or your employer to help you find the right home for you and your pet.
Ask lots of questions, and find out as much information as possible to ensure your pet's transition is as smooth as can be.
Think about health care
This is often the last thing expats think about when they're planning a move abroad. Once you permanently leave the UK, you're no longer covered by the NHS or EHIC (European Health Insurance Card). Find out what the requirements are for insurance in your new country. Even if there are no requirements, it is never a good idea to be without health insurance, regardless of your age.
Don't forget to obtain records from your doctor about any conditions you may have or medications you're taking. It will make it easier for your new doctor to treat you if you've brought your medical records with you.
Be sure to check on your tax obligations abroad, and inform the HMRC of your departure. You'll also need to notify the Social Security Office and the Department for Work and Pensions that you have left the country.
Even if you don't have property or ongoing bills in the UK, after you leave you'll still have bills to pay or money to transfer to your new country. Banks don't offer the best exchange rates for money transfers, and you should consider using a professional foreign exchange specialist. Many of our customers have paid for their international removal with the savings they've made by using a foreign exchange service.
Learn the language
In many countries, you can get by without knowing the local language - but you lose out on so much by not learning the language. Even just knowing how to say hello, please, thank you, excuse me, and "I don't understand you" in the local language will make your life in a new country much easier.
Learning the language will help you read packaging, understand signs in public places and help you decipher bills and correspondence.
Our advice is to learn as much as you can before you arrive, and join a class as soon as you arrive. Classes are also a great place to make new friends and begin to settle in to your new life.
Prepare for homesickness and culture shock
Even the happiest, most well-adjusted expat yearns for a taste of home. Food that you never ate at home suddenly becomes the stuff of irrational cravings. There are plenty of expat-focussed sources of a taste from home, but the cost is often prohibitive. Buy a couple of cookbooks so you can re-create your favourites, and perhaps discover some new ones with a local twist.
Install Skype or Facetime, so you can have face-to-face chats with friends and family. It isn't the same as being there, but it helps with missing those you've left behind when you can see each other talking.
If your international move is taking you back home, be prepared for reverse homesickness and culture shock. Some sources say it is even more difficult than culture shock in a new country. Be sure to bring things from your last home, as you'll find yourself missing them much more than you expected to.
Know the local rules and laws
Some countries are notorious for their restrictions on behaviour and attire in public. Others may not be so well known, but ignorance of the local laws and rules can find you quickly in trouble. Be sure to investigate local laws, customs and regulations to ensure you stay on the right side of the law and happy in your new country.
In some countries, you will need to register with the police not long after your arrival, be sure to know the regulations about this, and ensure you're registered within the permitted time.
Exchange your driving licence
In many countries, you'll be able to simply exchange your British driving licence for a licence in your new country. However, there are many countries where you'll need to take a driving exam.
Whether you need to take a driving exam or not, you should familiarise yourself with the local driving rules, since they differ from country to country. It is also a good idea to book a driving lesson or two, to help you be aware of the subtleties of driving in your new country.
Article by: Shelley Slater, our website manager who is originally from the United States of America and has lived in Sweden, Switzerland and the UK