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Guide to moving abroad

Wherever you're going in the world, setting up life in a new country or region can be an exciting adventure. But it can be daunting too.

So, before you head off somewhere new, read our 10-step guide to moving abroad to make sure you've got everything covered.

1. Research where you're going

It sounds obvious, but a bit of research into the country or region you're moving to is a great place to start. This can give you a sense of what it'll be like to live there, from culture and climate, to transport and living costs.

It can be useful to check what visas or work permits you, or family members, might need.

It's also a good idea to look at how tax works in the country or region you're moving to, and whether you'll still have tax considerations in your home country or region after you've moved. Check your government's website for any advice around moving abroad, or try contacting your local tax office for guidance.

If you can, speak to other people that live, or have lived, in your potential new location and find out about their experiences.

Read our country and region guides to get started. 

2. Check the country or region's entry requirements

You may need to have a certain amount of time left on your passport when you enter a new country or region. There may also be specific requirements around entry visas, and what you'll need to have in place when you arrive.

Checking these requirements, and renewing your passport (if you need to), in good time can help avoid unnecessary stress or delays.

You may be able to find more information on what you need on the government website.

3. Work out your moving costs

Alongside flights and somewhere to stay initially, you'll want to prepare for other costs that come with a big move. For example, if you're taking furniture and other household items with you, check the cost of international moving companies so you can factor it into your budget.

Planning ahead can help stop your moving costs spiralling out of control.

4. Build up your savings

Having some savings ready to cover start-up costs, or the move itself, can really help.

Try setting yourself a savings target to aim for, as this can help you stay focused and reach your goal. Looking at your income vs your outgoings may help you see if you need to cut back and save more.

You may also want to look at opening a savings account that you can access once you've moved, so you can continue to save from your new location.

5. Figure out how you'll manage your money

Take some time to work out how you'll stay on top of your money during and after your move.

You may need to have a visa before you can open a bank account in some countries or regions. Ideally, you'd get an account set up before you land so you can hit the ground running and avoid fees and charges from using your existing bank account overseas.  

An international bank account can make it easier to manage your money while abroad. Also known as an offshore account, they allow you to hold money, and make and receive payments in multiple currencies.

If you're planning to move back eventually, or you still have payments to cover, such as a mortgage or school fees, you may want to keep an account in your home currency to mitigate the risk of adverse exchange rate movements.

With an HSBC Expat Bank Account, for example, your account will stay the same wherever you're living in the world. You'll also be able to manage all your eligible HSBC accounts in one place.

And don't forget to check what insurance you may need before you go, including health and travel insurance, and factor it into your budget.

6. Think about where to live

You may be looking at a short-term let while you get settled, before finding something more permanent. Research the different neighbourhoods and transport links to get an idea of the areas you want to check out once you arrive.

If you can, you may want to try contacting some local estate agents or rental companies, and ask for their advice. They'll know the area better, and may be able to offer some guidance on rental costs and even property availability.    

There may be different rules around deposits and how to pay rent, so it's worth reading up on this too, or asking the local estate agent. For example, in some places you may need to pay a bigger chunk of rent upfront, in which case you'd want to have savings set aside if possible.

If you're considering buying a property overseas, get familiar with the local laws and seek independent legal and financial advice at every stage of the buying process.

7. Get ready for work

If you're going to be working - whether it's a short-term contract or a permanent role - there may be certain requirements and laws to be aware of.

You may need to have a specific type of visa or a work permit. If you've already found work, speak to your employer about what you'll need to get started.

If you plan to find work once you've arrived, check what type of visa you'll need beforehand.

8. Research schools

If you're moving to a new country or region with children, it's never too early to research local and international schools, as you may need to join a waiting list.

You should also find out what fees might be involved so you can factor them into your overall budget.

9. Gather your essential documents

Having key documents to hand is vital when you're moving abroad. Alongside passports, visas and employment or rental agreements, think about what else you might need. If you plan to drive, for example, you may need an international driving licence.

If you're bringing any pets, they may need their own pet passport or a record of their vaccinations.

Having all your documents in order before you move can save you having to coordinate it all from abroad.

10. Plan ahead

If you're planning a permanent move, it can be helpful to start making plans for the longer-term future before you go.

For example, are you able to transfer your pension to your new country or region of residence? Are you able to add to your pension while working abroad?

It may be difficult to get a pension fund depending on where you're moving to, so you may want to start exploring other options.

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