Improved communications and a global job market have seen a steady increase in the number of people moving abroad to live and work. Why limit yourself to job vacancies in the UK or Europe, when larger corporations are offering tempting employment opportunities further afield, in the USA, China, the Far East and Australia?
Around 75% of millennials would consider moving abroad for the right job.
Millennials are finding that the ideal time to spread their wings and explore the world is before they have a family, mortgage and other commitments. According to recent data, around 75% of millennials would consider moving abroad for the right job, preferably for a short time before returning home with international experience added to their CV.
In the same report “72% of millennials would put off having kids if it allowed them to relocate for a better job. Additionally, 71% would be willing to put off getting married”. It seems that today’s graduates have a firm life plan that puts career and travel ahead of marriage, settling down and having children.
However, getting a job offer abroad is often the easiest part of moving overseas. There are many other things to consider including work visas, diploma validations, pensions, tax and other mundane but essential matters to organise.
Tax planning – perhaps 18 months before moving – is beneficial in order to financially and mentally prepare.
Once your overseas job offer has been confirmed, the first thing to do (after popping open a celebratory bottle of bubbly) is to consult an expert for financial advice regarding tax implications, residency issues, pension planning and more. Although it may be your first experience in moving abroad, tax-led advisors at The Fry Group say that, ‘ tax planning – perhaps 18 months before moving – is beneficial in order to financially and mentally prepare.’
What do you need to do before you leave?
As your move gets closer, your head will be full of things to do, so get into the habit of writing a check list to make sure that nothing is overlooked. It could be pretty embarrassing if you fly out but then find you have the wrong type of visa and cannot legally start work until the paperwork is sorted.
You really need two lists - one for things to do to tidy up loose ends at home, including informing the tax authorities of your plans, cancelling utilities, subscriptions, phone contracts, car insurance and giving notice to your landlord, if applicable. The second list is what you need to do in your new country including sorting out accommodation when you arrive, researching how to get around on public transport, opening a bank account and making sure your new company has all the paperwork it needs to employ an “alien”.
Although it is an exciting time, it can also be stressful and emotional. Make sure you get sufficient sleep. If things get a little overwhelming, find someone to talk to who can provide support and calm frazzled nerves. Luckily, there is a plethora of resources to help your transition be as smooth as possible. Here are some of our favourites:
- To kickstart a positive outlook on expat life, reach out to Katia Vlachos. Katia writes on cross-cultural adaptation and expatriate life. She also works with expats at various stages of their transitions. Read her ultimate list of tools and resources to help you with anything from destination guides to expat counselling.
- For finding friends and likeminded people, there are many terrific expat groups on Facebook. See here for 22 of the best expatriate group from every corner of the globe.
- You can also connect and make friends, join events or find housing through forums dedicated to helping you move overseas. Try expat.com or the Expat Exchange for more generic resources and advice. There are also specialist forums that cater for your expat needs by both gender and by country.
Keep it legal: how to sort out the paperwork
Most countries have a visa system for those who want to stay long-term and work in their country. Your new employer will usually do all the paperwork for you and may be sponsoring your visa. Make sure you know exactly what they are providing and what you need to do yourself.
Things to check are:
- The type and length of your visa
- Health insurance
- Is accommodation included, how much will it cost and how long is the lease?
- What are your tax liabilities, in the UK and in your new home country?
- Driving license requirements if needed
Luggage or storage? You choose...
Moving aboard physically is much easier if you’re newly graduated and have yet to amass the assets, furniture, pets and paraphernalia that come in later life. Hopefully you can divide your worldly belongings into two piles - one to be shipped out to your new home and the other to be stored. You may be lucky enough to have family or friends who can store your belongings long-term for your return sometime in the future. Alternatively, you may have to pay for storage with a professional company.
If you plan to be away for more than two years, it could be more beneficial to sell bulky furniture, vehicles and “toys” rather than paying to store them.
If you are relocating with more than your flight baggage allowance, consider booking through an international relocation company if you have furniture that you want to accompany you to your new life.
On your own in a strange new country? Don’t worry!
Settling into a new job in an unfamiliar country with a different language or culture can be daunting. A positive mindset will get you through the early weeks. Even if you’re not usually a sociable person, say “yes” to invites, and try everything once before deciding it’s not for you.
Asking questions can be a great ice-breaker. People love to help out and give advice on things like recommending places to eat, where to go on weekends, or how to get around using public transport.
If your language skills are rusty, enroll in some conversation classes or pay for a few one-on-one lessons to broaden your required vocabulary for your job, if necessary. Some companies will offer speaking clubs, online tutors and study buddies to help you fully immerse into a different culture. Popular courses for expats include:
- For conversational English, try Perfect Cuppa
- Learn to speak Dutch with IamExpat
- Master Italian with Expats living in Rome
- Or join WICE, a Parisian international community that offers a wide array of learning and volunteer opportunities
Above all, embrace the adventure and return home with a broader view of the world and an impressive international skill set.
This article was written by Sarah Anderson. She is both British expat and graduate so knows what it takes to make the scary yet exciting move somewhere new. As an emerging freelance writer, Sarah specialises in writing around ways to encourage students to pursue STEM careers, on relocating internationally and life as an expat.