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If 2018 is the year for your big move abroad and you’ve never experienced the expat life before, an international move may seem quite daunting. Fortunately, thousands of people have done it before you and there is a lot of advice around for first-time expats as they make their move. Here are some tips from seasoned expats.

1. Embrace Minimalism

Expats resoundingly agree that it is easier to travel with less than more. If you are moving abroad sell everything except for your essentials and your precious mementoes. Not only will your relocation be cheaper – but you will also have extra cash to spare for setting up your home in your new country.

2. Try before you move

Before you move abroad to a country, visit it, experience it and only then decide if you can live there or not. Try to make your visit as long as possible. 4 weeks is a good indication to see whether the local way of life suits you. Try to speak to as many other expats as you can while you are there to see how they find the quality of life in your proposed new country.

3. Lose your expectations

Long-time expats all agree, your move abroad will never be what you imagined. Don’t base your plans on what you think is going to happen. Instead prior to your move read expat forums and engage with expats who already live there in order to get a realistic idea of life abroad.

4. Do your research

Try to learn as much about your new country as possible while you are doing your ‘look and see’ visit and while you are still at home. Look at the cost of buying versus renting property. Consider the education system and whether it will be better to educate your children privately or publicly. Try and discover what an average weekly shop will cost you. These days with online supermarkets, it’s relatively easy to do this. The last thing you want to experience is that your earnings go a lot less further than you imagined (a common expat complaint!).

5. Live like a local

When you arrive, your local expat circles will be able to provide you with plenty of information to help you integrate yourself. However one of the quickest ways to feel at home in a country is by getting out into the community. Make local acquaintances, attend local cultural events and avoid an ‘us versus them’ mentality.

6. Have fun

Moving abroad is a wonderful adventure. Try not to get too bogged down by all the red tape that moving abroad brings with it. Instead challenge yourself to do new things and try new activities. Don’t have the same expectations that you would in your home country, be flexible with your routines and adapt to the local daily pace of life.

7. Be financially prepared

The success of your move abroad depends on your financial preparation. There are many things to consider including ensuring whether you have enough foreign exchange to establishing your tax status in your new country.

As South Africa’s first financial emigration company, we have helped thousands of South Africans move abroad. We understand the South African expat community and assist them daily with accessing opportunities relevant to their cross-border financial portfolios. For more information about how to financially emigrate, transfer retirement savings, claim tax refunds and access foreign exchange at highly competitive rates, contact us today.