If you’re thinking of moving abroad you are not alone. According to findings from the Office for National Statistics, more Britons moved abroad between 1997 and 2007 than in any other decade since the First World War and there are real fears being voiced that Britain is again experiencing a brain drain.
Well, far be it from us to try and put you off – we are all for encouraging people to broaden their horizons…literally. And if you are contemplating a sojourn overseas here’s some essential advice for those moving abroad.
Consider language – if you’re going to be living in a country where the mother tongue is not English, get a basic grounding in the language before you move, arm yourself with a decent phrase book and a dictionary and start practicing speaking the language as soon as you arrive and at every opportunity you get.
Find out about local customs, traditions, religious and cultural expectations and fit in! Be respectful and understanding of the culture you’re moving to and live and behave according to local traditions. For example, in Muslim cultures it is usually expected that women cover their heads in public and in some nations it is offensive or even illegal to consume alcohol. Find out up front about what is expected of you in terms of your behaviour and abide by that.
Be a bit discreet when voicing negative opinions about your new country and in particular its customs, politics and religion. Whilst we Brits are happy to slag every aspect of our country off and whinge away about the state of the United Kingdom and everything in it, this is really not the norm in other countries and it is certainly not acceptable for a foreigner to do it.
You have the right to live in Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Ireland, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway if you are a British national. If you want to move to live anywhere else you need to find out in advance of your relocation what your obligations are to obtain permission to move to the given country. Contact the British embassy or consul in that country as well as that country’s embassy in Britain for advice.
Some benefits and state payments are transferable abroad and some are not. In some countries your state pension is index linked and in others it is frozen. You need to find out about your entitlements and rights before you decide to move abroad. To do so contact the agencies who make payment to you.
You should inform your local social security office, HM Revenue & Customs National Insurance Contributions Office and the Department for Work and Pensions about you moving abroad and give them a forwarding address. You should also give all your utility companies a forwarding address in case you are due a rebate.
Finally, think about your health – whilst you may be in fine fettle now, when you get older you may find you need more medical care and attention. What’s more, you may be moving to a country where the standards and availability of health care are poor or where the cost of medical attention is very high. Look very seriously into getting a level of private health insurance that will cover all eventualities.