Each year many thousands of people decide to move overseas permanently and to start a new life for themselves and their families in a new country. For a lot of these people this will prove to be one of the best decisions they have ever made, but for many others their dream will rapidly turn into a nightmare. Here are some of the numerous things which you will have to consider.

Make certain that you really do want to move overseas permanently.

They say that the grass is always greener on the other side and it is all too easy to imagine a heavenly picture of life in the country of your choice. However, once you arrive, you might well find that in fact the grass is now much greener back home. It is also frequently the case that your thoughts about a foreign country as a holidaymaker is very different from your view as a resident.

Not only should you visit the country a number of times before you make any decision to move there, but you must do so at differing times of the year and for increasingly lengthy periods of time. You also have to try 'living' in the chosen country by renting a house or condo and living as far as possible as you would as a resident and not as a holidaymaker. If you still think that moving is the correct choice after spending a few months or so 'living' in the country, then it is a fair bet that you will not regret your choice.

Make certain that you fully understand the immigration policy of the country in question.

Look carefully at the current immigration rules of your chosen country and also take a look at its immigration history and any known or rumored plans for the future.

In many cases you will be required to meet strict visa requirements and these could be inconvenient, costly and leave you with little security. The absolute last thing you wish to do is to sever your ties with home, buy a condominium and settle the children into school only to find that you are unable to extend your visa and are given seven days in which to leave the country.

Take a very close look at your finances.

Think carefully about how you will support yourself financially in your chosen country. Do you, for instance, plan to seek employment after you arrive to furnish you with an income, or will you fund yourself from saving, investments or retirement income from home?

If you plan to seek employment overseas then how easy will it be to find work? If you can get work, what sort of salary are you going to get? Will you be allowed to work at all? A large number of countries will require you to have a work permit and these are sometimes issued only in exceptional circumstances or for employment which requires special qualifications or skills. In the vast majority of cases your visa will clearly say that you may not seek employment.

If you intend to fund yourself from sources back home, do you have enough resources not just for today but for the next ten or twenty years or beyond? If you are taking retirement income overseas will it keep pace with the rising cost of living? In many countries you are permitted to receive retirement income overseas but, if you elect to do so, you lose any cost of living increases and your income is pegged at the level at which you start to take it abroad.

Think about what you will do with your assets back home.

If you own your own home will you rent it out, sell it or merely leave it sitting empty? What will you do with your furniture, car and other personal belongings?

Naturally your home is a great deal more than a simple asset because it also gives you a link to your home country and gives you an address back home which might be extremely useful if you do not have friends or family who are happy for you to use their address. Just wait until your credit card expires and your bank tells you that they can only send the replacement card to the registered address in your home country.

As far as your personal belongings are concerned you can of course get rid of many of them if you wish, retaining only those or particular real or sentimental value, or you can take them with you. But how easy is it to ship things overseas and how much will it cost? You will have to look carefully too at the regulations in your chosen country. Some countries will let you bring just about anything you want into the country, but others will have strict importation limits or charge high import taxes. In many cases for instance it is much cheaper to buy a new car than to import your own car and to suffer high import duty and possibly to need to have the car altered to comply with local requirements for registration.

Examine the provision of healthcare.

You might be on top of the world now but, if you are thinking about moving abroad permanently, then a time will come when you will have to avail yourself of the local healthcare facilities. Just how good are the local facilities and how well do they compare to the facilities that you are used to?

Another very important factor is the provision of public healthcare. If you come from a country which provides publicly funded healthcare, like the United Kingdom, then you could be more than a bit shocked by the cost of medical treatment when you are in a country with only private healthcare. On the other hand, if you are accustomed paying for your own healthcare, you may be pleasantly surprised to find that you obtain the same level of or better medical treatment much more cheaply.

Whatever the case, however, this is one thing which you have to examine very carefully and you will most certainly wish to have some form of expat health insurance policy.

This short list of just five tips is far from exhaustive but it will hopefully give you a starting point and get you going in the right direction. Becoming an expatriate is a very big step and one which needs considerable and careful thought.

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