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How do you begin a move overseas?
So, you’ve decided to move to a different country and you know where you want to go. What happens next? Trust me – there is a ton of stuff to do before you can actually get on that plane and start your new life.
First, you need to be sure you can get in to the country of your choice. That usually involves filling in application forms for a visa but for some countries there are steps to perform before that - for instance, Australia will ask you to request an invitation to be able to fill in the form and will only accept visa applications from people who have been invited. It can take many months even years to actually go through the whole process until you actually have your visa in your hand so as soon as you have decided it pays to start the application process.
There are many different visas depending on how you will support yourself when you are there.
If you already work for a company in your home country and they have offices overseas, this could be the easiest way to get a visa as they will sponsor you for the application. Alternatively, of course you could apply for a job in your new country before you go, maybe looking through job adverts with multinational companies that will interview in your home country. There are also recruitment specialists that can assist with this. Be aware though, that the skills and qualifications you have may not necessarily transfer over to the new country without tweaking. They may insist on an exam to get the necessary licence to get a job in the same line of work. If you know this in advance, that may be possible before you even get out there. There are many countries, usually the ones that are popular with families looking for a new life, e.g. Australia, Canada, New Zealand etc. that have a list of skills that they are particularly looking for. If you have the skills that are in demand, then that will speed up your acceptance for a visa. They work on a points system so that the more suitable skills you have, the more points you have. Alternatively, if you have a business idea and investment funds, then a business investment visa may be the one for you.
If you aren’t sure about a country and would prefer to try it out, you can apply for a temporary work visa or maybe a study visa just to experience life there and decide if it is for you.
Also, if you are retired, then there are some countries, like Australia, that have a visa for this. You have to ensure you have sufficient funds not to be a drain on Australian resources and that you are healthy.
If you have a close family member that is already a citizen of the country you wish to emigrate to, then they can sponsor your application. This is probably the least painless route although I guess you will be forever in their debt!
Each country will have different names for these visas and not all will be applicable everywhere so research the country of your choice to find which visa will suit you best. There are immigration experts for all the main countries but be careful as there are also some shysters out there that will rip you off.
Also, once you receive your visa please be aware that there will be a restricted amount of time before it runs out, usually about a year. So make sure you can get yourselves going once you have been accepted.
If you sell your house, or have a large sum of money to take with you to the new country, (lucky you) then it may be advisable to talk to a financial adviser that is well-versed in the tax implications in the new country. Also, make sure you give yourself plenty of time to convert the cash into your new currency. Currency exchanges will have varying rates depending on when the transfer is done or even the establishment doing it, so shop around to find the best for you.
If you have children, you need to plan the area that you will be living in with respect to schooling as well as somewhere you like and can afford. Most schools have internet sites that can give you an idea of their values, teaching and exam results and the children themselves may enjoy being part of this decision process.
And that leads to where to live once you get there. It might be an idea to rent at first unless you are really familiar with the country and specific area you are moving to. Then at least you will have a bit of breathing space to look for exactly the right property for you, as opposed to buying somewhere having only seen it and the surrounding areas via the internet. You can’t hear that busy main road on an estate agent’s advertising page! The same goes for transport when you get there. It may be easier to rent a car for a week or so, until you get yourself sorted out so that you can get together the documentation you will need in order to buy.
Once you have decided when to go, you should get a few quotes from removals companies as these can vary hugely, particularly if you are shipping your belongings a great distance. Also, remember that while shipping everything by sea is the cheapest, it does take time, so if you want familiar items with you as soon as you arrive, they will need to be sent weeks, if not months before you leave your home country. Don’t forget your pet will have to have special arrangement made as well, with inoculations and quarantine rules, this process needs to be begun as soon as possible.
As the leaving date approaches, you will need to inform people about your change of address (the Post Office will forward all your mail – for a fee of course!), bills and utilities will need to be finalized, flights booked, the list is endless. Don’t forget travel insurance though. As well as insurance for you and all your possessions (and any pets you will be taking with you) don’t forget health insurance when you arrive. Sometimes, there will be a free national health service, but even if there is, it may take you a while to qualify. It is worth taking out extra health insurance to either cover you completely or just for the interim period until you qualify for the free service.
All in all, it is a huge undertaking to pack up and move your family to a different country. Overall though, it just may be the best decision of your life. Good luck whatever you decide and if you need any more help, take a look at my other hubs on the subject.
- 10 practical tips on planning to move overseas
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