Whether you’re moving for work, to be with family, or to spend your retirement somewhere you love, moving abroad is often a life-changing decision. And to make sure that everything goes smoothly, there are a few things to sort out and have in place before you embark on your new adventure.

With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of 14 things to think about when planning a move abroad. From the organisations you’ll need to contact to how to bring your pet with you, we hope you find it useful.

1. Do your homework on the area that you’re thinking about moving to

Do your homework on the area that you’re thinking about moving to

It’s important to read up on any new area that you’re thinking of moving to, but this is especially true when moving to another country.

To start you off, it’s worth checking out the government’s Overseas Living Guides. These are available for almost every country in the world, covering everything from entry requirements and healthcare to social ethics and traditions. You can find the full list of these guides here.

Thorough research can help to make sure that you don’t miss out on any necessary details – such as a country’s entry requirements and what its healthcare system is like – as well as giving you more insight into the local culture.

Understanding certain customs and traditions can also help to smooth your transition into a new society and avoid any misunderstandings. Plus, it can be exciting to get a glimpse into life in your potential new home.

If you’re able to, it’s also worth visiting the area you plan to move to before making a final decision. Not only will this help familiarise you with the local culture and customs and make sure it’s the right fit for you – but it’ll also make your first few days and weeks there much easier to navigate once you arrive.

2. Consider whether to rent or buy property

Consider whether to rent or buy property

When looking to move to a new country, it’s worth considering whether it would be better to rent or buy a property.

The duration of your stay is a big factor in this decision. If you intend to move permanently, then buying your own property if you can afford to will likely be the smartest option, as you won’t be beholden to a landlord and will have full control over your property.

Alternatively, if you can afford to purchase a property, but you’re planning on returning to the UK eventually, then you may still want to consider renting. As the housing market fluctuates, you may end up needing to sell your property when prices are lower, so you could lose out.

Even if you’re moving permanently, you can’t always account for emergencies or changes that might call for a return to your home country – so it can be better to rent in some cases, either way.

Regardless of which country you’re moving to, it’s important to keep in mind that the legal system will be different to the UK’s. To help you through the process of renting or buying property overseas, you might want to check out these tips on the Gov.uk website.

And if you’re looking for more general tips on house-hunting overseas, then you might find this guide from Which? helpful.

3. Decide what to do with your current home

Decide what to do with your current home

One of the biggest things to think about before moving to another country is what you’re going to do with your current home.

Selling your old home may seem like the most logical move, but there are other options to consider too.

For example, you could rent out your property while you’re abroad, especially if you plan to return to the UK. Just bear in mind that any income gained through renting your property will still be taxed, whether or not you’re a current UK resident.

If you’re considering renting out your old property, and want to manage risks such as repair bills, lack of tenants, or claims made against you, then you might want to have a read of our article; What is landlord insurance and do you need it?

And for more advice on what to do with your home after moving, you might want to have a read of this guide from National Property Buyers.

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4. Whether working or retiring, think about how you’ll spend your time

Whether working or retiring, think about how you’ll spend your time

If you’re looking to take on a new job or to continue in your current role while abroad, then you’ll need a visa (which is required to take residence in your new country, anyway).

There are also steps you can take to make the job-hunting process easier – like updating your CV to meet the standards of the country you’re moving to. For some advice on how to do this, you might want to read this guide from Smart Resume Services.

Nowadays, the easiest way to find a local job is online, via job boards like Indeed or Reed. But if you’re looking for a job overseas, you might have better luck looking elsewhere. To find out which websites might work best for you and your particular circumstances, check out this list of 14 websites to find a job abroad from World Trips.

It could also be the case that you don’t need to leave your current job and that you can transfer abroad or work remotely. Remote working has been widely normalised in recent years, so it’s always worth speaking to your manager about the possibilities if you wish to continue on.

If you’re planning to retire abroad, it’s important to consider how your new home will support the lifestyle you plan to lead. Perhaps you want to move somewhere warmer, somewhere you can be closer to family or friends, or somewhere that will allow you to follow your passions with your newfound free time – like boating in a coastal region, for example.

And for more considerations to make when retiring, regardless of where you find yourself, you might want to read our article; 9 things to consider when you’re thinking about retiring.

5. Sort out any necessary medication or treatment

Sort out any necessary medication or treatment

Before deciding on a move, it’s important to secure access to any medication or treatment that you need.

Pharmaceutical and medical laws differ around the globe, and that means that, unfortunately, it may not be possible (or legal) to acquire certain prescriptions at your desired destination.

The NHS can provide a buffer supply of prescription medication for up to three months to allow you time to find a new prescriber once you’ve arrived in your new country – along with medical notes and a list of current prescriptions to help with this.

To continue receiving any ongoing treatment, you’ll need to register with and consult the relevant medical authority in your new home country. This process differs from country to country, but you can find further information on the NHS’s guide to planning medical care when moving abroad.

6. Find out whether your driving licence is valid in your new home country

Find out whether your driving licence is valid in your new home country

If you have a driving licence and intend to drive abroad, it’s important to check whether it’ll be valid in the country you’re moving to.

In some countries, you’ll need to acquire a local driving licence (by passing a driving test). Others may allow you to exchange your UK driving licence for a valid local one without having to retake your test – and in some cases, you’ll be able to drive with your UK driving licence, as long as you have an International Driving Permit (IDP).

You can find more information on which licence you’ll need and about the IDP on the Gov.uk website. But, it’s also worth confirming your options with your local driving authority.

7. Plan for relocating pets

Plan for relocating pets

If you have a pet and want to take them with you, you’ll need to arrange for their transport and registration in your destination country.

Rules and requirements vary depending on where you’re moving and what pet you’re taking with you – but certain things like vaccinations, boosters, and treatments for conditions like tapeworms are commonly required. You’ll also very likely need a microchip and an animal health certificate in the majority of countries.

You can find additional information about taking your pets abroad to both EU and non-EU countries on the Gov.uk website.

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8. Inform UK government offices about your move

Inform UK government offices about your move

Once you make the decision to move abroad, one of the most important parts of the relocation process is letting various authorities know of your intention to move.

Some key authorities to get in touch with might include (depending on your personal circumstances)…

Your local council

Your local council will need to know if you’re moving abroad so that you stop paying council tax once you’re no longer a resident.

UK citizens also retain their citizenship even after moving abroad, so in most cases, it’s possible to continue voting in UK parliament elections once you’re living overseas. You can register as an overseas voter on the Gov.uk website.

The relevant benefits office

If you receive benefits, you’ll need to get in touch with the relevant benefits office. In some cases, it’s possible to continue receiving benefits while living abroad.

For a list of numbers to call depending on what kind of benefits you receive, you may want to check out this webpage.

International Pension Centre

In order to claim your state pension while living abroad, you’ll be required to inform the International Pension Centre prior to your move. It’s also worth noting that you’ll no longer be eligible to receive Pension Credit if you move away from the UK.

Student Loans Company (SLC)

If you’re repaying a student loan, then you’ll need to inform the Student Loans Company if you’ll be overseas for more than three months.

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC)

To make sure you’re paying the correct amount of tax, you’ll need to contact HMRC before moving abroad.

Keep in mind that if you have any investment accounts in the UK, you’re unlikely to be able to pay into them while abroad – but they’ll still be taxable.

Post Office

You can have your post redirected to your new address by the Post Office for up to 12 months for an upfront cost.

You can find out more about postal redirection on the Royal Mail website.

9. Contact the relevant organisations abroad before your move

Contact the relevant organisations abroad before your move

In order to meet certain requirements for emigration to another country, you’ll need to get in touch with a few organisations there ahead of your move.

Some of these steps will be essential (such as acquiring a visa), while others (such as pet insurance) are helpful to have sorted before your move to make sure that you’ll be covered as soon as you arrive.

Some of the main things to consider when setting up a new life abroad include…

Entry requirements

The vast majority of countries require a visa if you intend to stay for a prolonged period of time.

However, requirements differ from country to country, so it’s best to research the process in your destination country.

Tax requirements

Once you’ve sorted out your UK tax details prior to your move, you’ll need to contact your new local tax authority to make sure you’re paying the right amount at your new home.

Insurance and healthcare

It’s important to find out your eligibility for state healthcare in your new home country before you move, and whether you’ll need to organise medical insurance.

Voting

If you’re eligible, don’t forget to register to vote in your new home country!

Mobile phone, landline, and internet providers

It’s worth sorting out contracts with mobile phone, landline, and internet service providers before you move abroad so that you’re connected as soon as possible once you arrive.

10. Don’t forget about your utilities and subscriptions

Don’t forget about your utilities and subscriptions

It might sound obvious, but amongst all the other things in your life you’ll be sorting out, don’t forget to shut off your utilities – including your internet – if you’re leaving your house uninhabited! And if you’re moving permanently, it’s also important to remember to terminate any ongoing utility contracts.

Likewise, don’t forget to cancel any UK-based subscriptions, such as to magazines and newsletters.

It can be easy to forget and end up having to pay out of pocket for something that’s easily avoidable.

11. Make sure you have all the right documents

Make sure you have all the right documents
While it’s obvious that you’ll need to take your valuables and important belongings with you when you move, it’s always worth double-checking whether you have all the documents you need for yourself and your family. Here are some of the most important ones to look out for…
  • Passport
  • Visa
  • Work permit
  • Driver’s licence
  • Birth certificates
  • Marriage certificates
  • Medical records (including vaccination records)
  • School records
  • Tax records
  • Insurance documents
  • Pet vaccination records
Just to be safe, and for your own peace of mind, it’s a good idea to make multiple copies of any documents that can be duplicated. It’s also best to transport any important documents on your person for safekeeping, rather than sending them ahead in other luggage.

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12. Hire a moving company

Hire a moving company

Moving personal belongings – especially furniture – to another country can be quite a daunting task. Even more so than with a domestic home move, it’s worth hiring the services of a moving company.

Removal companies handle the transportation of your belongings, but they can also help with the packaging – which can be quite a difficult and time-consuming part of the moving process.

For more advice on whether hiring a moving company could be right for you, you might want to have a read of our article; 4 tips for a stress-free house move.

And to help you find the right international removals company, you may find this guide from Experts for Expats useful.

13. Sort out your bank account(s)

Sort out your bank account(s)

There are a few different options you can take with regards to banking once you’ve moved to your new home.

You could simply choose to keep your current bank account. This is a sensible choice if you still have assets in the UK and naturally makes things much easier if you intend to return eventually.

Opening an international bank account through a UK bank could be the way to go if you want easy access to foreign currency exchange in your native language.

However, international accounts usually come with regular fees, either monthly or annually, along with transfer fees. Though some people feel that the support they receive online and over the phone with accounts of this kind is worth the extra cost.

It’s also worth noting that with an international bank account, you may still be vulnerable to exchange rate fluctuations.

If you’re moving permanently and speak your new home’s native language or are otherwise comfortable communicating with people, then a local bank account might make the most sense for you.

Without the associated fees, opening a local bank account is cheaper than opening an international one. And, with the option to create a local credit profile, the likelihood of being granted a loan in the future will increase, should you need one.

14. Once you’ve arrived at your new home, take steps to help you settle in

Once you’ve arrived at your new home, take steps to help you settle in

And finally, once you’ve arrived at your new home it’s worth taking steps to help you settle in.

Exploring your local area, getting to know the people around you, and seeking ways to get involved in your local community can do a world of good in helping you integrate into a new society and feel less homesick.

You might find these top 10 tips for settling into a new country from Experts for Expats useful. From understanding local customs to joining community clubs, hopefully, you’ll be settled into your new home in no time.

Final thoughts…

Moving anywhere new can be a difficult experience, let alone moving abroad. But often, taking risks and stepping outside of our comfort zone can bring great results.

We hope that one or more of our tips have helped you, or reminded you of something that you’d forgotten or were putting off. Whatever happens, we wish you good luck on your new journey!

For more guidance, you might want to visit the home and garden section of our website.