Making the big decision to uproot from your home and move abroad can mark the start of one of the most exciting times of your life. However, while the dream of living abroad should not be discouraged, it helps tremendously to take the following five points into consideration to ensure you have the best possible emigration experience.
1. The Language
While it’s true that as the lingua franca, English is widely spoken across the world, linguistic issues remain one of the biggest barriers towards successful introduction and integration for British expats overseas. While speaking loudly and slowly may allow you to scrape by on holiday, actually encountering native speakers of a foreign language on a daily basis will quickly expose the shortfalls of a monolingual approach.
With that in mind, there has never been a better time to learn a language. Both direct courses and self-teaching software packages exist for the aspiring bilingual and although the road to fluency may be long and pitted with word genders and speed difficulties, the end result will really be worth it when you find yourself greeting native speakers with confidence and having conversations as easily as if you were both speaking English.
2. The Climate
In the UK, the general arrangement of the weather is that it’s hot in the summer (June-August) and cold in the winter (December-February). Although the extremes at either end of the temperature spectrum can be uncomfortable to deal with, the climate is generally agreeable with those who have lived in the country for most of their lives. However, in addition to the culture shock of moving abroad, climate shock is also a very real issue that may be faced.
In some parts of the world the system of seasons is actually reversed, with summer taking up the three winter months and winter stretching from June to August, like our summer. In addition to this global difference, some particularly large countries have wildly contrasting climates within their own borders. In the United States, for example, the East Coast is generally cooler and lusher in states like Maine and Massachusetts, while moving further west will eventually get you to the swelteringly hot states of Texas and Nevada, the latter of which is largely desert in landscape and climate.
3. The Cost
While the actual cost of purchasing a house in a different country may be relatively cheap (certainly when compared to property prices in London, for example), the long-term financial drains on your bank account need to be identified beforehand to prevent any unpleasant situations further down the road. In addition to actually obtaining a place to live in the first place and paying taxes, if you want to stay in the country of your choice for the rest of your life as a permanent resident then you may have to invest into that nation’s economy.
One example of such a system is in New Zealand, where under some circumstances a hefty investment has to be made into the nation’s business infrastructure when first entering the country. Providing that you are able to provide the amount up front, after four years the amount is returned to the successful emigrant.
4. Property Concerns
Although flats to rent can be found in just about every country in the world, actually having a proper home to call your own is always the more desirable of the two options. However, just like with the climate, the type of housing available differs wildly across the globe and even within nations. As an example, Spain features a wide array of small stone country houses, large palatial estates and medium-sized suburbs full of smooth walls and neat doorways. Behind all of these appealing options are some common questions that are worth asking.
Primarily, these are based on the long-term potential of properties. While a home may look highly appealing on a website or in a brochure, the reality may be somewhat less glamourous. A photo at the front of a house may look fine, only for you to purchase sight unseen and discover that the back is only half-built. In addition, a swimming pool may seem like a good idea on paper only for the reality to be cracked tiles and a poor supply of water. You shouldn’t buy a house in the UK without checking it out in person and there’s no reason to do any differently abroad.
5. The Activities
Depending on your age, the angle of this point shifts somewhat. If at the age of retiring, the view is more leisure based. How do you picture spending your days in the new country? What would you like the daily routine to be? Could you do activities you enjoy there? These are the kind of questions that should be asked when you want to put your feet up in another country after a lifetime of hard work.
On the other hand, if you are still looking for work, securing a job before moving abroad can be far easier than afterwards. In some countries, the immigration process is made considerably easier if you manage to acquire gainful employment before entering the country as your skills could be of great benefit in an otherwise nationally lacking area. Certain countries are specialised in certain industries: in the example of South Africa, that specialty is mining. If you have a specialism to offer, consider moving to a nation which values it. You could find it rewarding both financially and in terms of career progression.
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