A Comprehensive Consumer Guide to Moving Abroad for an Expatriates

There are so many things that global nomads and expatriates need to consider when moving abroad to a new destination. Where do you start? Well, you’ve come to the right place. Here’s a comprehensive expatriate consumer guide to moving abroad as an expat or global citizen that we hope will make your move abroad more pleasant and worry-free. The tips and information presented here in expatriate consumer guide are also useful for expats already living overseas.

Moving Abroad as an Expat

expatriate consumer guideMoving abroad is an exhilarating adventure. Whether you are on a long-term job assignment, a digital nomad, or are keen to spend a permanent retired life, a lot of planning and hard work will be required before moving abroad.

We understand the amount of research that goes into planning. After all, relocating to a new country is no easy feat. Consider this as your one-stop-shop. Expat Financial has put together this expatriate consumer guide to facilitate expats-to-be with a smooth planning and transition process. You will find useful information even if you’re still toying with the idea of becoming a digital nomad or have been knee-deep in preparation.

Our online expatriate consumer guide to moving abroad as a global citizen is split into the following categories. You can scroll down, or simply click on any of the links below to jump to the corresponding section:

1.International Health Insurance Consumer Guide

Check out our newly published international health insurance guide with detailed information on health insurance. This global health insurance guide provides almost all the information that a current or future expatriate will require in choosing the right coverage for living abroad. Click here!

2. Travel Arrangements

expatriate consumer guideWhen you’re planning, you will realize making travel arrangements takes the most significant chunk of the process. With globalization, it’s effortless to travel to another country. However, there are many things to take into account when it comes to relocation. Which city are you planning to go? What about the cost of living?

In this section, we’ve created you a quick checklist to help you stay on track and not miss out on any steps.

Travel Planning for Expats

Everyone knows that expatriates travel often. They are travel experts, but often need assistance from travel agents and also need to access travel websites such as Google Flights and Expedia. We have put together some great travel advice for expatriates HERE.

Relocation Checklist

Here are the 10 important items in your relocation checklist

(i) General
  • Compile all your documents and certificates in one file and assign a designated area to keep this file.
  • Mark your calendar with all key dates, including visa applications, visa interviews, language tests, and shipping personal items to your new country. Set alerts to your google calendar.
  • Take language courses to pick up essential phrases or sharpen your skills.
  • Research and learn about local cultures and customs. Respect is key!
  • Use expat forums to gain insight from the experiences of other international citizens. It is also a useful tool to meet new friends and find jobs.
  • Research and compare the best mobile phone and internet service options.
(ii) Work

expatriate consumer guideUnless you are on a work assignment overseas or you are retiring abroad, you most likely need to find a position abroad or simply rely on your savings to support your life abroad. You can usually find a job through a job platform such as LinkedIn or Indeed, but many head hunters will search out global talent for overseas positions that are geared to expats.

If you have a highly marketable and in-demand skill, such as in IT or medicine, the job prospects may be excellent. In either case, make sure you check to make sure that the income offered is competitive after taking into account the local costs of living, healthcare, and travel costs. Many expat employers will offer generous relocation and moving costs packages.

(iii) Healthcare

Accessing healthcare when living abroad is vital should you fall ill or become injured, but you also want to secure access to a doctor for check-ups and wellness care as well. When you arrive in your new location, choosing where to access care can be difficult and also quite important. Luckily, we have put together some great resources for expatriates.

Check out our Healthcare by Region and Countries pages and Hospitals by Region guides for great information on accessing medical assistance in your new country destination. Most expat health providers we work with will also give you access to an online directory of hospital and doctors that are in their medical network for direct payment.

We recommend that you obtain our International Health Insurance Guide!

(iv) Moving and Relocation for Expats

relocation for expatsMoving abroad is a huge decision, and moving and relocation decisions can be quite daunting. Packing and moving all your stuff from one corner of the world to another is not only expensive but is also quite complex. It makes sense to talk to a relocation specialist to discuss your plans. We have put together an expatriate relocation checklist that can provide global citizens with some excellent tips that they may not have thought of. We even have some tips on expat relocation companies.

(v) Expatriate Accommodation

If you are about to move overseas, you have already thought about where you will want to stay. It pays to do as much planning as possible on where you will live abroad. You will want to think about price, size, safety, proximity to schools and work, furniture, and much more. You will want to consider the pros and cons of renting or buying abroad, along with the legal and tax implications of both.

(vi) Education for Expat Children

If you are moving abroad with your children, you will need to consider their educational needs and obtain schooling options that best meet their requirements. For expats on work assignments abroad, the employer will often handle and pay for the schooling of your children. Many expats will enroll their children in the local schools if they are up to their standards, but many more will enroll in international schools that may teach in English only. You will need to do as much research as possible and make sure that you visit the school and talk to teachers in person if possible.

(vii) Global Health Insurance

buy global medical insuranceIf you are planning to move abroad for a job, extended travel or retirement, one of your number one concerns is if you get sick or injured, will you be covered by a high-quality global health plan for you and your family. Not all international health policies are created equal, and every expat has different health insurance requirements and budgets. Most expats will want a plan that will provide them access to both public and private medical care in their new destination country, but also regionally and back home.

Moreover, global citizens are often moving from one destination to another, so they must purchase a plan that will cover them globally, especially for visits back home. Most international health plans will cover you in your home country for up to 90 or 180 days per policy year. If you move back permanently, you will have to get a local health plan in your country of citizenship as expat health plans are for expats only.

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(viii) Transportation

Once you are at your new country destination, you will need to consider how you will get around. Some countries in Europe and Asia have excellent public metro systems, such as China and the UK, for example. If you live in a city center, you may not need to get a car, and there are often taxi and ride-sharing options available. Many global citizens will rent a car for the first weeks after they arrive but may need to buy a car if transport options are lacking. Talk to other international citizens in your new destination city for the best car options and make sure you have adequate car collision and liability coverage.

(ix) Finances

Living abroad can be expensive or inexpensive, depending on where you are coming and form moving to. Your finances for your life abroad should be one of your most important priorities. Expats should talk to a financial planner or make use of available online resources to make sure that they will have enough financial resources to last for their entire life abroad. Many expatriates will be posted overseas by an employer at a hefty salary, while others will be relying on savings or a pension. Digital nomads are usually lucky enough to rely on a job where they can live and work remotely abroad.

(x) Security Arrangements

Depending on where you plan to live, security and safety can vary widely. It is a simple fact that some expat destinations are simply not safe for locals or expats, so do your planning early online and also think about talking to a security professional before and after you move abroad. Your expat employer should also provide you information and make plans to keep you safe if you are on a work assignment. We have provided some excellent security and safety tips for expatriates on our website.

3. Finances

Before narrowing down on a country or even city, plan your budget first. You must plan your budget ahead of time. Creating a monthly budget will help you keep track of your expenditure. Take a look at your source of income- this could be salary, dividend, and even your part-time job that you get every month.

cost of living for expats

Then, take a look at your monthly expenses such as your total spending in a month, how much you put on your credit card, your total utility costs, food, and entertainment. Make a record of your income and expenditure. Now, look at your monthly spending on your new country. Building this framework will help you identify the critical expenses for your move.

Cost of living for Expats

Once you’ve built the framework, you can now look at the cost of living in your city. Generally, your cost of living includes accommodation, utilities, transportation, relocation, food, and entertainment. By looking at your potential salary, note down how much it would cost you to spend on rent, phone bills, grocery shopping, school fees, etc.

Now you can compare the countries and cities you want to move to. You can then decide if that lifestyle is the right one for you.

Foreign Exchange for Expatriates

One of the biggest considerations for future and current expatriates is the rate of foreign exchange. This can have a big impact on your finances when working or retiring abroad. It can also influence your choice of expat destinations. When and how your exchange your money is a big consideration for most international citizens. We have a great resource for foreign exchange that is offered by the OFX Group. Expats can exchange their money quite easily at extremely good rates – which is why we use them as well. Click HERE to learn more.

Be prepared for the extra expenses.

When planning your move, expats should always be prepared unforeseen expenses. You might need new appliances in your apartment, pay school fees, local taxes, buy healthcare visas. No matter how methodically you plan, there’s always an extra expense to take care of.  So it’s important to allocate money for miscellaneous expenses.

Banking

There are a few things you need to consider when moving to a new country as an expat. Firstly, opening a local bank account. It will help you in transferring and withdrawing money. You can also request your current bank to issue you an international card or account that you access anywhere in the world. Most importantly, get your hands on some local currencies beforehand. Having some cash at hand when arriving in your new country will help you with minor things like taxis or public transport.

Taxes

As always, there are taxes in every country. You must understand how your taxes in your home country and your new country work, especially when you move. Find out the necessary forms you need to fill before leaving the country to avoid double taxation—research ahead of time on what you need, especially documents to avoid unpleasant surprises.

4. Working & Expat Assignments

expatriate employeesPeople move to a country for a variety of reasons, but they do need to work to support themselves in their destination country. It means that you have to do the job search yourself, research on the visa requirements, and ensure you’re getting an excellent employee benefits package.

Online search engines and internal opportunities

There are many avenues you can search for to get a job. The easiest is to look at online job boards as it will give you an idea of how demanding is your job industry in your destination country. You will also be able to find out the payscale and read about the work environment. But if you’re already working, you can always check internal opportunities in your company. This usually applies to those working in an international company.

Networking offline and online

Most new expats use networking to land them a job overseas. Network with your current and ex-colleagues as they might have connections abroad. Similarly, use social media to your advantage. Social media platform such as LinkedIn has made connecting with employers, hiring managers, and even CEOs a lot easier.

5. Living Abroad

When it comes to moving, we’re always concerned about our lifestyle in our new country. Which city are we going to, and how much changes should we be making to our current lifestyle to better adapt to the new conditions. Is your new city suitable for raising a family? To deal with the expat dilemma, we have narrowed down a few essential factors you need to consider when choosing your new home country.

Quality Living

Whenever we’re thinking about moving to a new country, one of our top concerns is the ‘quality of life’ of the country. We want to ensure it’s all worth it when we’re uprooting our entire life to an unfamiliar land.  But what exactly constitutes quality when it comes to determining the best place to live? Here we will look at five categories that are important to expats moving to a new country. Similarly, take a look at the top countries to live and work this year.

Schools/Education

expat child educationThis is especially important if you have kids or planning to expand your family. Doing proper research on schools and universities is crucial. It also depends on how you are planning to raise your children. Do you want them to learn with the local kids, or do you prefer an international school? Planning and talking to your children will help both parties to transition well.

Safety

Expats should do detailed research about safety in their new country. Look into the country’s political, cultural, and environmental issues. Is the country of your choice have deep political tension, how do the local treat expats, and most importantly, is the country’s geographical location protected from natural disasters? If not, then you have to look into securing specific insurance in place.

Culture/Social Life

If you are moving to a country that’s completely different culturally, you need to ensure you can adapt to the environment. There are local rules that you would have to follow and customs you would have to adjust to. You also want to decide if it matches your current social lifestyle and notes down the changes that you would have to make to have a smooth transition.  Deciding if you’re up for it is part of the process.

Healthcare

As always, healthcare is always essential in any country. This also comes with proper research- does the country have adequate healthcare services, would you need to go to a neighboring country in case of an emergency, how are the public and private hospitals? We have plenty of resources when it comes to answering this question, so take advantage of it. The quality of your healthcare equals the quality of life in your new country.

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Getting Around

 You definitely can’t miss out on this one. Researching your local transportation helps when mapping out your life in your new country. Find out what kind of driver’s license do you qualify (and prepare all the necessary paperwork ahead). If you’re on an expat assignment, you need to figure out your way to and fro office, how far does it take you to get to the nearest grocery shop or even hospital.

6. Healthcare Resources by Region & Country

When expatriates are moving abroad, it is important to have some background information on the healthcare resources and system for the region and country that you are moving to. Expats and global citizens like to know how easy it is to obtain medical care, the cost of medical care, where to get medical care and the overall state of the health system in your expat destination. We have endeavoured to provide as much information as possible on the health system by region and country on our site at no cost to you. To view the guide, click HERE.

7. Expat Region & Country Guide

We have compiled a whole host of information for current and future expatriates who require detailed country and region information. You can search out regions, countries and even major cities. With great info that is relevant to expatriates and global nomads who plan to move, retire or work abroad – including safety, healthcare, food, safety and much more.