Things you need to know before moving abroad

People leave the UK every day in search of warmer climates, better education and a better life. According to the National Office of Statistics Spain, France, the US and Australia are just a few of the expat hotspots. Although starting a new life, making new friends and constantly basking in evening sun, all seems like a lot of fun, there’s a lot more to moving abroad. You need to plan meticulously, to ensure you have everything in place to ensure you move is legal and goes smoothly.


If you’re a British citizen and you’re moving to a country within the EU then a visa is not necessary. If you’re moving further afield however, a visa is essential and getting the necessary and correct paperwork isn’t always easy. If you’re planning on working once you move, you’ll need to be sponsored by your workplace or have a skill which is desirable.

If you’re planning to retire abroad, outside of the EU, you’ll be expected to prove that you’re wealthy enough to support yourself. If you’re not, you’ll need to be sponsored by a local.


Although the warmer climate could actually be good for your health, the cost of health care abroad may come as a surprise, especially in North America where the cost of health care insurance takes up a large proportion of a monthly wage.

For assistance towards the costs of emergency health care costs in the EU, you’ll need a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). This will provide you access to reduced cost or free treatment.

Having a health insurance policy is often a condition of being granted a visa. It’s worth checking the rules and regulations of the country you’ll be travelling to because they differ greatly. In Spain, for example, those seeking early retirement are not entitled to free medical care.


Property tax

The cost of tax and legal fees when buying a new home abroad, can add up to 10% to the purchase price of the property. You also need to be aware of any ongoing property taxes as these vary a lot between regions.

Capital gains tax

You need to be prepared for the capital gains tax (CGT) you’ll be charged on any profit you make on selling your home. It’s possible to be taxed both in the UK and the country you’re moving to. Some countries, like Canada for example, have agreements with the UK ensuring you only pay CGT once.

Cost of living

Unless you have to move to a certain country for a specific reason, then the world is your oyster, so it’s worth checking out living costs before you settle on a destination. Although, in a lot of places, property prices abroad are considerably cheaper than in the UK, the cost of living can be the same, if not more expensive. These are the costs you’ll have to deal with on a day-to-day basis so you need to be sure you can afford them before you move. Check out the costs of food, energy, fuel and entertainment, and remember that living in a popular tourist destination will be a lot more expensive than a quieter, less popular area.

You should also be aware of currency changes. If a good exchange rate is being offered at the moment then it’s worth protecting yourself by securing a forward contract. This will ensure you keep the same exchange rate for up to two years, meaning that your money will always be secure.

There’s a lot to think about if you’re selling up in the UK with the intention of moving abroad, and the things we’ve covered here are only a few of the basics. Here, you’ll find a lot more information and you’ll be able to decide whether emigration is really something for you.

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