Expat Checklist - A guide to moving abroad

Expat Checklist - A guide to moving abroad

29 November 2022
Young, smiling woman standing in front of the Eiffel Tower, France.

There’s no doubt that moving abroad involves a great deal of planning and preparation. As you plan your relocation and start sorting out different aspects of your new life, you will come across many boxes to be ticked. But where do you start?

To help you through the process of relocating abroad, we’ve put together this essential expat checklist with the things you’ll need to factor in before you move to a new country.

  • Paperwork

Very few lucky expats escape from the complicated task of having to sort visas and paperwork. Figuring out everything you’ll need to do in order to obtain a required visa or work permit can take a considerable amount of your time; so the best you can do is get to it as soon as possible.

If you have secured a job in a new country, find out what you will need to do to have your paperwork in order. Your employer should be able to give you some information on visa support, and may even take the worry off your hands.

Make sure you find a reliable, up-to-date source of information. Look for official websites like the country’s consulate or the immigration department, often part of the Home Affairs Ministry or Ministry of Justice.

Some countries require that your passport has at least six months validity prior to the date of your arrival. Some others may require in addition that you provide a Police clearance Certificate (or official criminal record), or even mandate specific vaccinations for allowing your entry. It’s important to look into the detail of what your new country will expect from you.

  • Healthcare

No matter where in the world you go, health cover is essential. Ensuring that healthcare will be provided for you and your family is one of the most important things you will need to consider when moving abroad.

Some countries provide subsidised state healthcare; however, some do not. Some companies provide private medical insurance as part of their employee benefit package options. If you are in any doubt, contact your employer, and find out the exact details of any cover they are providing. It is vital that you have comprehensive health insurance for you and your family.

Cigna Global offers a wide range of expat medical insurance cover available to protect you in your new homeland, and anywhere else you may be travelling. Find out more about Cigna International health insurance.

Making the move to a new country is exciting, but don’t forget about the risks. Read this guide to help you find what you need to know in order to make sure you stay healthy abroad.

  • Travel

It goes without saying that air travel can be expensive, but it is of course a necessary expense if you are to become an expat.

There are some ways to reduce the cost of air travel. Booking a good while in advance generally results in discounts for long haul flights. Be sure to check out baggage allowances for the airlines you’re considering flying with, as some heavily restrict your weight limit, while others allow you to carry some specific extras for free.

Travel insurance is also very important. As well as cost, make sure you’re happy with the whole package of your travel insurance, including things like cancellation cover and baggage cover.

  • Shipping or Storage?

Just like everyone else, you will have accumulated much more in the way of possessions than you previously thought. So what do you take with you?

If you’re planning on renting at first in your new homeland, you could consider renting a fully furnished property and put your furniture into storage until you’re settled. You could then arrange to have your belongings shipped over at a more convenient time.

  • Budget

An essential part of becoming an expat is keeping control of your finances. Given the logistical complexities around moving to another country, it can be easy to lose track of your finances, so adhering to a strict budget is crucial.

Try to plan ahead as much as possible, including the little things as much as the big expenses. Be sure to factor in things like: hotels if your new abode isn’t ready yet, local transport prices or the cost of a vehicle, local utility costs, legal documentation costs on arrival, and import tax where applicable on any goods you may be taking with you.

  • Culture

Adjusting to a new culture can take time; be prepared for a mental and emotional shift in your lifestyle. Learning in advance about the culture you will be immersing yourself in will help to manage expectations. If you don’t speak the local language, try learning some basic words and sentences; there are plenty of tools online that can help you.

Once you start spending time in a new country, you may find many aspects of your culture differ from the new one. It can take a bit of time getting used to, but take comfort in the fact that the initial struggles will diminish over time. A sense of humour is important – don’t expect miracles overnight, and enjoy the start of a great new chapter in your life as an expat.

Becoming an expat takes planning and research, but by following the handy steps above, you’ll be well on your way to becoming a fully-fledged expat. It’ll be an exciting time, so take it all as it comes, and enjoy starting a fantastic new chapter in your life in a new country.

Discover more about Cigna International Health Plans.

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