January is the month when most people contemplate emigration. Perhaps it has something to do with New Year’s resolutions or the need for a change, either way January is the month when expats or would-be expats get itchy feet. The decision is often made in January, but in order for your move to be a success, a careful foundation must be laid and your successful emigration will likely take place later in the year – or even possibly in 2019. Here are some tips to ensure your move is a success.
1. Focus on finance
One of the biggest obstacles to emigration is money. In order for your move to be a success, you need carefully work out if you can afford to make the move and live abroad in your chosen country. You need to look at visa costs, relocation costs, the cost of renting, transport and whether you can afford to live abroad for the first few months, possibly without an income.
You also need to understand the tax regime in your new country and work out what your income will be after tax. Another aspect to look into is double taxation. Will you be liable for paying tax in your home country on your worldwide income? All these financial factors need to be taken into consideration prior to making the final decision.
2. Get practical
The next step is looking at the practicalities of the move? Are you eligible for a working visa in your country of choice? Can you apply for job positions from your home country or will you need to have interviews in person? You need to consider whether your skills are in need in the country you are considering emigrating to. If your skills are found on their ‘skills shortage ‘ list, your move can be quickly accelerated.
3. Start searching
If you are doing this on your own and not relocating through a company, the Internet will become your best friend. Start searching for viable working positions on international recruitment sites, see if your skills are needed and how much you can expect to earn. If you have children, look at the education system and consider whether your children will need any extra lessons to ensure they can hit the ground running.
4. Be realistic
Emigrating takes a lot of effort and once you arrive in your new country, you can’t expect to feel at home in three months. In fact many expats report they only start feeling at home after two years. So give yourself time to build a life and don’t give up too soon. On the other hand, if you are not sure your move abroad is going to be permanent, don’t burn all your bridges back home. The rule of thumb is commit, but don’t over commit.
5. Rent don’t buy
There is a huge temptation once you have arrived to rush in and put down your roots. You want your own home with your own things around you – but don’t make the mistake of buying in the first six months. Take your time to look at different areas. Ensure where you want to buy is an easy commute to your work and the local schools. In fact, many schools are zoned to particular areas – so if you have your heart set on a certain one, ensure that you rent and ultimately buy in the right area for your children’s education!
6. Work on integration
Finding your feet in your new country requires active work on your behalf. Making friends might not come easily at first – but if you make an effort to find like-minded people at local expat groups or clubs, you’ll find settling down a lot easier.
7. Plan for the long-term
Many expats are retirees or approaching retirement. After spending many years working and saving for retirement in one country, you need to ensure you can access these savings and enjoy them in your new country. With over thousands of expat clients across 105 countries, one of FinGlobal’s most relied upon services is assisting South Africans living abroad, to financially emigrate and turn their retirement annuities into cash – even prior to the recognised retirement age of 55 – and then transferring their funds to their new home.
This is possible because of changes to the tax legislation that came into effect in 2008. What’s even more advantageous is that the money can be used for anything – an exotic holiday, home remodelling or you can re-invest it, the choice is yours.
If you are thinking of emigrating in 2018, contact FinGlobal for more information about how we can assist you with your financial emigration, transferring retirement savings, claiming tax refunds and accessing foreign exchange.