In the last few decades, it can feel as though our world is getting smaller and smaller. Within one click of a button, it is possible to see exactly what is happening in a far off land; you can see the election results of a country that you had previously never heard of; and jumping on a plane for a few hours can take you about a quarter of the way around our planet. It should not surprise us then that more and more people, of all ages, are starting to thin about upping sticks, and making a new home in a land far far away.
However, this is a rather romantic ideal that we see ñ brave young things, or intrepid retirees deciding that they are going to become a native of that country, and live a totally carefree life. Unfortunately, the reality of moving abroad can prove to be a lot more complicated than that, and for many people it is actually more stressful than their previous life in their own home country! Taken from my own experience, here is a list of things that you should consider before you seriously think about uprooting your life and starting over:
1. How far do you want to be from your family/friends?
You may want a fresh start, but that doesn’t mean that you want to totally alienate yourself from all of the people that you know and love. When you are thinking about what country you want to move to, you should consider how long it takes to get back to see your family ñ and not just the flights, but door to door. In many countries, there are not that many airports, so getting to one may take you a few hours. That will increase your journey time, and may make it difficult to come home and visit very often.
2. Will you work from abroad, or get a new job?
This is a major factor in your decision to move, and you should also take into account the fact that there may be different rules on pensions, tax, and health care in the country that you move to. You will have to get used to an entirely different system, and you may even have to do that in another language. You should be able to go to your local embassy of that country, and discuss with them your hopes and concerns. Of course, you may be lucky, and be able to work from home or even be transferred to a branch of your company that is within that country. This would make everything a whole lot easier for you!
3. What are the laws like in the country you want to move to
What most of us think about when we are moving to a new country is what the weather is like, and whether or not you can drive there. But it is vitally important that you check the laws in that country, especially if you hold a particularly strong religious belief, live in a partnership rather than a marriage, or have a lifestyle that could be against the laws of that country. The very last thing that you want to do is find yourself on the wrong side of the law there for something that is perfectly acceptable where you come from. Your nationality, sadly, may not protect you.
4. Have you checked residency laws?
More and more countries are becoming concerned that too many foreign people are choosing to live in their country. This is usually because their country is fabulous! This may mean that they do not allow those of other nationalities to remain in their country ñ even with a job ñ for more than a certain length of time, such as three years. Of course, it could then be possible for you to apply to be a resident, but you may then have to give up your original nationality and citizenship. That is a huge ask, and it is a very difficult decision to make.
5. What are your options for returning home?
This last point is the one that no one ever thinks about, but unfortunately for many people, moving abroad does not work in the long term. They then want to come back to their original country ñ but there may be unforeseen problems that prevent that. For example, if you are going to apply for government support when you return, because you have not managed to find another job, or you want to start re-claiming your pension again, you will probably find that there is a long and laborious bureaucratic process that may take weeks, if not months. These problems will be exacerbated if you have taken the nationality of the country that you moved to, because now it will legally be as if you are moving to another foreign country!
It may surprise you that there are so many serious things to consider when you want to move abroad, but we don’t want them to scare you. Hundreds of thousands of people explore this option every year, and decide that they are ready to move abroad. Of course, none of these are insurmountable concerns: it just means that it takes a little bit more thought than most people think to move to the other side of the world.