There seems to have been a plethora of surveys in recent months relating to how many Britons are actively contemplating a move abroad. It seems that the state of the economy has certainly prompted more people to consider their lifestyle options - one of which is potentially moving overseas, if you believe the findings of all of these surveys.
One of the most recent surveys by Aviva questioned 1,000 Brits and found that over half were thinking of expatriating – and so chances are, as you’re reading this article you will be in agreement with those questioned who stated that the decline in living standards in the UK coupled with the likes of the weather were prompting them to look overseas for a better quality of more affordable life.
If you haven’t yet firmly decided on which nation to call home abroad we’re going to guide you through 5 important aspects to consider when choosing a country to move to abroad. It’s critical that anyone looks beyond the weather and the scenery, and scratches below the surface of a country to ensure it can meet their lifestyle requirements.
Making a new life abroad is a thrilling challenge that often presents the expatriate with more opportunities than issues; however, it would be remiss of us if we failed to point out that making a new life abroad can be hard work! Therefore, to ensure you have the best chance of success in the form of a happy integration, taking the time to choose your country is critical.
Many people opt to relocate to a nation which they have visited only on holiday, assuming that their wholly happy and positive memories and experiences are sufficient proof that the country in question will fulfil all of their hopes and dreams for a fantastic future. However, a holiday in a country does not give a good indication of what day-to-day life in a country can be like, and often does more harm than good in over-selling a nation’s positive points!
Anyone choosing a new nation to live in is strongly advised to take time out to visit that country over an extended period of time out of season, (if the nation has a tourism season), and to do more than take boat trips, enjoy nights out sightseeing! Here are 5 of the most critical considerations to keep in mind when choosing your new home country: -
1) The Cost of Living
For Britons impacted by a weak pound and an even weaker economy, almost everywhere abroad suddenly seems expensive. It will be critical to assess whether you can actually afford to live, and enjoy your desired lifestyle in your chosen nation.
Absolutely essential to factor in will be accommodation, utilities, transportation and groceries as well as taxation and any insurances you may need such as health care coverage for example. You need to assess what you will need to live on and then you will need to consider the next point carefully…
2) The Jobs Market
Assuming you’re not moving abroad to live on your pension or investment assets, (and if you are you will need to make sure they are sufficient to buy you a quality of life you will be happy with), you need to look at the local jobs market.
What is a typical wage, what is the minimum wage (if there is one), what is a realistic salary that someone can live on, what skills do you have that are in demand locally, and how many options and alternatives will you have to find employment.
It’s the same in every country in the world - the majority of people are pushing for the lowliest paid, least skilled jobs which makes competition stiff for just the most basic job and salary…
If at all possible you need to position yourself outside of this fight and ensure you have the experience, qualifications, language skills and ability to get decent paying work where there is a broader opportunity for employment. Be very cautious and realistic as your future abroad will depend on your ability to earn and afford your lifestyle.
3) Healthcare Standards and Medical Facilities
As mentioned above it may be important for you to take out (and be able to continue to afford to pay for) medical insurance abroad. Even in countries where there is a state funded healthcare system there are often limitations to the scope of care given for free which results in local citizens having top up insurance.
You need to look carefully at the healthcare standards available abroad in your chosen nation, and whether they are acceptable to you – and then you have to look at how you will afford access to medical treatment if it has to be privately funded.
4) Political Situation & Crime
Whilst political landscapes can change overnight in any nation, it’s wise to assess the general consensus of opinion and feeling within a nation relating to its leadership and governmental structure. It’s then possible to make a judgement call on whether a country is secure enough to call home. Political assessment affects the economic prospects of a nation too, as well as their opinion on immigration which could affect you as a foreign citizen.
In terms of crime we may think we have it bad in the UK, but compared to some parts of America or countries like South Africa, the UK is safe! Look closely at the crime statistics in your new nation and whether crime against the person and petty crime is common. You do not want to feel unsettled and unsafe in your new home.
5) Paths to Forging Friendships
Finally, we would like to draw your attention to an often overlooked yet critical aspect of integration abroad – and that is the ability of an expatriate to meet people and make friends. HSBC recently released its list of the friendliest nations in the world with Canada coming out on top – and it has highlighted the fact that in some nations expats fail to integrate because they find it very hard to settle in sufficiently.
In some nations the language, religious or cultural barriers to integration are too extreme which makes making a new home abroad in such countries hard. Sometimes expats find that other nations are difficult but that there are strong expat communities and so it is possible to at least forge friendships therein.
Whilst the dream of living far from the madding crowd and in perfect isolation may appeal to you now as you lead a hectic life in the UK, actual isolation particularly when you’re a stranger in a strange land is devastating.
Ensure you will be able to socialise and make friends in your new nation of choice.