Friday, 7 June 2013

Guest Post: 4 Things to Consider Before Emigrating

With Great Britain in recession, youth unemployment at an all-time high and the volatile weather verging on apocalyptic, there are many reasons why someone would consider leaving the United Kingdom for greener pastures and greater prospects abroad. It would seem that many people have done so, with figures showing that an estimated 4.7 million Brits currently live abroad.

We may have previously assumed that slinking off to sun-drench destinations was as synonymous with retirement as slippers, a pipe and a pension. However 93% of emigrants are of working age, so a new life overseas can be suited to anyone.

If you find the idea of packing your bags, upping sticks and emigrating enticing, there are things to consider. Moving away from your native country is a huge leap, and not something to be taken lightly. By weighing up your options and considering important points of the move, not only will you know if emigrating really is for you, but you’ll also know how to make the transition go as smoothly as possible.

Photo courtesy of Michael Dorausch on Flickr

Choosing your new home

With the world quite literally your oyster, you can carefully consider where you would like to make your new home. The country that you choose to move to will be impacted by your reasons for emigrating. For example, if you’re looking to make progress in a career, a place like Australia could be ideal. The economy is performing well having only experienced one quarter of negative growth since the global recession began, and the unemployment rate is hovering around a relatively low rate of 5% - miniscule when compared to the UK rate of 7.8%. 

Destinations such as Spain have proven popular with those seeking the sun, having remained one of the top choices for emigrating Brits over the past 20 years. The laid back lifestyle and ease of access from Great Britain make Spain an attractive choice for those looking for a better quality of life, and 4 out of 5 expats polled in Spain said that they also enjoyed a lower cost of living than they did in the UK. If relaxing in the sun and saving dosh whilst you’re at it sounds attractive, then perhaps relocating to the Costas and Balearics is for you.

Buying your perfect property

Buying a home in your own country can be stressful enough, but throw in foreign currency and making deals overseas and things can suddenly seem all the more daunting. However, there are some great bargains to be had overseas, and if you do you research and plan carefully you could own your dream home for a fraction of what you would be expected to pay in the UK.

For example, £250,000 can buy you a 6 bedroom house in Orange County, Florida. Moving to America also means that the language barrier is removed from the buying process, therefore making it that little bit simpler. However keep an eye out for any additional taxes that could sting you if not looked into properly – for example, a 5% tax applies on property purchases in Florida.

The recession has caused a lot of scare-mongering headlines and employment issues, but has also meant that property prices in some countries are at an all-time low. For example, house prices across areas in France popular with expats have dropped quite dramatically. This includes a 9.7% drop in Burgundy and prices now 4.6% lower in Brittany. Therefore if you are emigrating, you can find a home overseas that may surpass your expectations but still stay comfortably within your budget.

However with all good things, there is a catch. Lower prices now means that the re-selling value may also be low if the economy doesn’t recover. This won’t really affect you if you are planning on emigrating long-term, but is definitely something to consider if you think that you may be moving on again in the near future. 

Looking after your money

Visiting potential emigration locations, buying property and shipping your life across to a completely different country – these things all come at a cost. Therefore making the most of your money is imperative when emigrating. There are several organisations who can help you when exchanging foreign currency who specialise in bulk transfers, as is needed when buying property. By utilising services such as these, you can sometimes choose options to get a fixed exchange rate so to avoid fluctuations in the market and also have someone assigned to make transfers for you. However, ensure that you shop around to make sure that you are getting the best exchange deal for your money.

Setting up bank accounts in your new country for direct debits is also a good idea to avoid exchange fees every time that you have to make a payment. This will also encourage you to settle into your new country by using their services. 

Home comforts and homesickness

Whilst emigrating can potentially offer you a better quality of life and more promising career prospects, it does also mean that you are leaving the UK behind and all of those in it. Chatting with friends and family over a cup of tea will be replaced with scheduled Skype calls and you will be challenged with settling into a completely environment.

Britons relocating overseas cited English chocolate, fish and chips and a proper pint as some of the things that they miss the most about the UK after they have emigrated. Sometimes the change can be just too much for some expats, and they return sooner than intended; a poll operated by Global Visas found that 33% expats came back to the UK after emigrating. During a multiple choice question 47% gave homesickness as the reason for their premature return, with 44% saying that cultural difference was to blame.

Therefore, consider the magnitude of starting a new life in a new country carefully before making the leap. If you are sure that you want to emigrate and plan to have people visit to punctuate homesickness, ensure that your new home is conveniently located to airports, is easily accessible and has room for guests. After all, a cottage based in the mountains of Mallorca may give fantastic views, but is it convenient if you have elderly relatives or young family members visiting?

By contemplating these keys points, you should be able to determine if emigrating is definitely for you, and make well-informed decisions if you do decide to make the leap. 

Rosie Percy writes for a diverse range of topics including travel, health and finance. Rosie has previously written for the Guardian and lifestyle blogs, and currently lives and works in Brighton.

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