On occasions, potential ex-pats ask us about common mistakes when moving abroad. As international real estate agents, who sell holiday homes and houses for permanent living abroad, we have seen many foreigners make the transition to living overseas. Most people make moving work, and only a few return, but primarily for family reasons.
However, all ex-pats agree there are mistakes they wish they hadn’t made. Firstly, don’t panic. Experts say moving house is one of life’s most stressful experiences, let alone moving house to a different country. Secondly, all mistakes can be rectified. Finally, when moving overseas, the best thing is to consider the endeavour a learning experience. So, what common mistakes should you be aware of?
Common Mistakes When Moving Abroad
1: Money Mistakes
Most ex-pats figure out a cost budget for buying property and monthly living. But forget to forecast costs into the financial future. This is especially important for fixed incomes when considering monthly inflation and moving to a country operating in a different currency. For example, some ex-pats in Turkey converted savings into Turkish lira and deposited the money into high-interest savings accounts. But over the last decade, the Turkish lira has devalued. So should they want to move back home, they will need to take a hit on their savings. One tip is always to give yourself a buffer zone and use an exchange company like Wise to get better exchange rates and the best transfer fees.
2: Overseas Residency and Healthcare Laws
Finding somewhere to live is not the most critical aspect when moving abroad. Knowing the residency and healthcare laws is. Most countries stipulate the number of days foreigners can stay in the country on a tourist visa, and more extended stays need to be on residency visas. In addition, healthcare matters. We are alarmed at the number of people who do not place this as a top priority when moving abroad, especially when they are of retirement age. One major illness, or a heart attack, can cost thousands. Know exactly where you stand on residency and healthcare insurance options.
3: Paying to Move Items Abroad
Plenty of overseas removal companies will compete on prices to get business. They take all the hassle out of packing, transporting, and unpacking household items. However, do some research and planning. After you pay the removal company and navigate customs and taxes, it sometimes works out cheaper to sell your items at home and buy brand new tables, settees, chairs etc., in your new home country.
4: Neglecting the Small Stuff
Before moving, check all paperwork. For example, how much validity your passport has and notifying pension providers and banks of change of address. In addition, if you plan to buy a home or move assets abroad, check the inheritance laws. Often, ex-pats need to make an additional will in their new home country because most judicial systems do not accept foreign wills. Finally, working professionals should check out the reciprocal tax laws to avoid hefty bills in the future. Cross the T’s and dot the I’s with everything. As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed.
5: Utopia Goggle Eyes
Many ex-pats choose the opportunity to move abroad based on where they have holidayed for years. They love the carefree atmosphere and dining out every night after spending days around the pool or on the beach. Subconsciously, they form an idea of the perfect life abroad, and then when the first hurdle arises, they don’t know what to do. Moving abroad brings many benefits, but you still need to keep a level head. Spending afternoons in bars while neglecting personal responsibilities and healthcare is one foot in the grave.
6: Lack of Local Research
Before moving, join Facebook and ex-pat groups for the area you plan to move to. They are ideal for keeping an eye on news and developments. Additionally, because there are many ex-pats, they also become a valuable source of information on stuff like residency, healthcare, bringing pets across, driving, and other daily issues. Neglecting to learn as much as possible about your new town, village, or city can hamper your quality of life.
7: Culture and Traditions
Likewise, learn about your chosen country. One mistake we see in ex-pats moving to Spain, Turkey, France, and Portugal, is stereotyping the country. However, much like in your home country, every region is different, whether this is traditions and food dishes or cultural identities. Learn about which topic to avoid and the history to avoid making social faux pas trying to make friends with locals.
8: Neglecting the Language
This mistake happens across the board, and although we meet many working professionals who learn languages, retired ex-pats often say they can’t. The good news is that experts say this isn’t your fault. The older we get, the language learning gets harder. However, this does not mean don’t try. Even learning one word a day helps foreigners settle in, gives them an advantage, and increases their quality of life.
9: Culture Shock or Expat Syndrome
Most ex-pats are 100% certain this is the right move to make, so when doomy days arrive, they are unsure what to do. Don’t panic. Having integrated themselves firmly into their community, they sometimes suffer from culture shock when the intensity of their new lifestyle hits home. Secondly, there is also something called ex-pat syndrome. This typically strikes those who move abroad with goggles, expecting everything to be perfect. Regardless, don’t make any rash moves back home. Both culture shock and ex-pat syndrome usually wear off within six months.
10: In the Event
Some ex-pats move abroad to try it out for six months to a year first. They rent a house during this time and play it day-to-day to see if they can adapt to a new life abroad. This is an excellent approach, but have a long-term plan and vision if you decide the move is right. For example, couples should discuss their action plan if the other falls ill. Working professionals need to think about savings plans for starting a family. Look ahead for five years to discuss potential problems and processes of what to do in the event.
11: Long Term Overseas Vision
When we ask retirees, what they hope to gain from a new life abroad, most answer just an easy life in the sun. This is great and, in all cases, very much deserved. However, now is your time to pursue your passion and dreams. Is there a hobby you have always wanted to do? Do you want to explore new places or contribute time to charities that need volunteers? Having a personal interest helps keep a sense of identity.
Also, About Moving Abroad
How to Buy Property Abroad: Buying property abroad can be daunting, but millions of us have done so. Investing wisely does not take a lot of skill, just knowledge. This second-home purchase, along with owning, pays off when homebuyers research. This article looks at advice and tips for buying overseas.
We are Spot Blue international real estate agents. We’ve helped many people buy a house abroad in Turkey, Spain, France, Portugal, and Dubai. Our agents are full of expert knowledge, experience, and advice, on settling into your new home. If you want to buy a home abroad, browse our portfolio of apartments and villas for sale.
Each listing contains everything to know, including price, local, home features and how to arrange viewing trips. Alternatively, call us today, and speak with an agent about the common mistakes when moving abroad. We also regularly update our Facebook page with the services and guides we provide for those moving overseas.