Thinking of Moving to Another Country? It’s Complicated

Are you thinking of moving to another country? It’s complicated.

New country, new laws, new culture, and possibly new language, it can be a daunting task to move and successfully integrate into the fabric of a new country. Keep reading, and you will find comprehensive tips that can simplify the process.

Research

Research, research, research. Don’t just depend on Facebook or Google or your impressions during a short visit to the country. Check out websites of law firms that specialize in immigration and have information about it on their websites. Look for legal issues on immigration and residency, buying property, bank accounts, taxes, starting a business, tenants’ rights, owning a vehicle, and other issues such as squatter’s rights. In some countries, squatters do have rights, and absentee property owners buying property with hopes of future-building have been shocked to learn that the squatters who invaded his property have rights. Don’t make assumptions about what your rights and privileges will be or how laws operate.

Location

Do you like city living with all its amenities or country living with all the “nature?” Be sure you understand the ramifications of this choice. City living provides an assortment of restaurants and shopping but with increased traffic and crime as well as little of “nature.” Country living can be a beautiful thing; surrounded by nature, there is beauty wherever you look. But being remote from shopping and other amenities is a problem for some people.

Your research should extend to various locations in the country that you have pinpointed as “possibles.” You can find out many things about any location – such as weather – as well as using Google Maps to get a satellite overview. This can help you search for a house or apartment since you can “examine” the neighborhood.

Be sure you fully understand the location you choose. Many people have the dream of moving to a beach in another country only to find that the dream has turned to a humidity-laden, mosquito-bite, sand-in-everything daily life. Having to run an air conditioner constantly in a tropical beach location can be expensive. With more northern beaches, instead of sand and heat, you might find rocks, blustery and cold winds and still have some mosquitoes!

Money

Opening a couple of bank accounts can be a good thing since you can use one of them to pay for your daily needs and the other as a savings account. You will need to decide what currency to use since many banks will have bank accounts available in US dollars as well as the local currency. It can make sense to have four accounts: Two in local currency and two in dollars (or Euros). Learn about banking regulations and what to expect from a bank. Are you paying by cash or card? It depends on the country, really, or even the location inside the country. In some more rural areas, people prefer cash. Some countries make it illegal for a business not to accept cards.

Be sure to check out the stability of the bank – don’t make assumptions.

Moving with kids

Moving with kids brings up a whole raft of possibilities and possible problems. Where will they go to school? Is the neighborhood good for kids? How do the kids feel about the move? Are they shy and unlikely to make new friends? It’s vital to the success of your move that your kids are totally on board with the move and excited about it. Otherwise, it could be a daily struggle to maintain your enthusiasm as well as theirs, and, of course, no one wants their kids to be unhappy.

Moving with pets

Consider the location you will be moving to: Is it appropriate for pets? You wouldn’t want to put a husky in a city apartment, for instance. Part of your research would be about available veterinary services. Some countries have leash laws, and some do not. Check on the regulations for pet owners. Once again, expat forums are a good source of information about shipping and owning pets in your new country. You should be aware that airlines that ship dogs as cargo (typically large dogs) will not ship during certain times of the year due to extreme temperatures.

Should you ship your car or…?

Prevailing wisdom says: If your car is in great shape and something special to you and your budget will allow it, then ship your car. Cars in your new country may or may not be more expensive or less available. Research to see if your brand of car is popular in the country so you can determine if it will be easy to get replacement parts and knowledgeable mechanics.

How much stuff should you ship?

Some people moving to other countries leave with only 2 or 3 suitcases, and others prefer to ship all their belongings in a 20-foot container. It depends on your goals, your lifestyle, and your budget. It can also depend on the availability of things like furniture and large appliances as well as how long you anticipate living in the country.

Find out how things get done

In every country, there are various ways of getting things done, whether it’s finding a competent mechanic or gardener; finding a place to rent or buy; dealing with neighbors. In some cases, there will be bulletin boards at supermarkets or Facebook pages about your town or city. In some countries, most things get done by “word of mouth” rather than anything posted on a bulletin board or online. Find out what is the best scenario for your new country and your location – it can vary from city living to rural living.

Health and Safety

Part of your in-depth research should be looking at what resources are available for health care, including hospitals, clinics, doctors, dentists, and others. Some idea of costs is also helpful. Many countries have a national system of health care, which, after paying a monthly fee, is either free or inexpensive. But most of them will require you to be a resident before participating in this scheme, so it’s important to understand what the options are.

Be sure to check the availability of any medications that you routinely take. If not available in your future country, look for equivalent generics.

Safety is always an issue, no matter where you live. In your new country, look not only at crime statistics, but the type of crime. Think about what you can/should do to routinely protect yourself and your family. Note that good, old-fashioned common sense is the key here!

Moving to another country can be complicated, but good research and careful planning are the keys to success.

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