Moving abroad is a complicated decision that requires a lot of thought – it’s not something one does overnight. Here are a few things to consider.

According to the University of Oxford Migration Laboratory, there were 339,000 people in the UK who took the jump in 2016. Over half were leaving for work, while the rest were either leaving for retirement or family reasons.  Other common reasons for leaving our Sceptered  Isle behind include its appalling weather, its bland cuisine and Downton Abbey.

Popular places for UK Citizens Moving Abroad

An estimated 1 in 10 Britons live outside the UK. So where are all these Brits abroad and what has lured them away to foreign shores? Check out our in-depth guides to the top places for Brits moving abroad:

>>> Moving to Australia

Australia is and will always be a popular destination. Two major factors are all that space, the much-vaunted “barbie” weather and a shared passion for that king of sports, cricket. Life in Oz is outdoor-friendly, built upon the three pillars of barbecues, beaches and hiking. And, unlike the USA, healthcare in Australia mirrors the NHS in the UK. So, no matter how sunburnt you get, you will always qualify for treatment.

>>> Moving to the USA

The USA is the émigré country par excellence. The ‘Land of the Free’ and the ‘American Dream’ are still alive for many, with the lavish films and TV shows a major draw for dream chasers. And of course, you also have a huge variety of weather, landscapes and lifestyle options on offer.

>>> the buzzmove Guide to Moving to Spain

According to UN Figures, Spain is the most popular destination for Britons in Europe. With lovely weather and chocolate-box town villas, Spain lets Britons escape the gloom of our weather without long-haul travel – and you can usually be back in the UK within 2-4 hours in case of emergency.

>>> Moving to China

China has experienced one of the biggest economic booms in the past decade. And with a population that skews heavily towards elder age ranges, work opportunities are quite high, especially for English speakers. Recent graduates and many others are taking the opportunity to teach in the country with the ‘teach English abroad’ schemes.

>>> Moving to France

France is becoming an increasingly popular destination, mainly the Mediterranean south of the country. Similar to Spain, southern France boasts beautiful weather and stunning landscapes, and enough amazing food and wine to sate even the most gluttonous pensioners. France also offers viable career opportunities for those of working age and, with Brexit, many businesses are choosing Paris as their new European headquarters.

>>> Moving to Germany

They may have lost that notorious World Cup Final back in the day but, on many measures, the Germans have won handsomely. As Brexit looms, many firms are looking to Germany as the new seat for their European operations. Germany has long been the economic powerhouse of Europe, offering the best average pay on the continent. It has a train system to die for, it boasts huge numbers of English speakers and, with its central location, you can hop over to neighbouring countries in a jiffy. What’s not to like?

Finding Your Dream Home Away From Home

Deciding that you’re moving abroad is one thing. Actually finding a house to live in when you’re out there is another. Your property search requires a lot of thought, as you can’t whimsically pop to view somewhere after work, like you’d do for a UK property.

Property portals like Rightmove and Zoopla have overseas search categories that allow you to search with all the normal search criteria. If you have a relative or a friend in the location you’re moving to, you could always ask them for advice on local estate agents or relevant online property platforms.

If online property portals or recommendations from friends and family are not your cup of tea, you can always find a local estate agent via the Association of International Property Professionals (AIPP). 

Moving Abroad Checklist

Whether you’re moving abroad for work, retirement or some other reason, you should expect to have a fair number of hoops to jump through. Indeed, some destinations may prove a hoop too far – like North Korea in all likelihood! Here’s a quick checklist of all your moving abroad admin:

Paperwork

The paper process you have to go through depends both on your status (are you working?) and on your choice of country. If you’re a UK citizen, you have the right to work and move within the European Economic Area (EEA). For other countries though, you may need a specific visa that could depend on your age or profession. Also, as Brexit approaches, you’ll need to keep tabs on whether free movement in the EEA will still apply.

Transferring Money Abroad

If you use your high street bank, this can become very expensive. In addition to charging an upfront fee, banks often add a mark-up fee (sometimes without the customer’s knowledge) when it comes to international transfers. It’s important you look at all the options before you transfer money. These include online midmarket fee-service platforms like TransferWise. More often than not, simple research can save you hundreds, if not thousands of pounds in fees.

Managing your personal finance

You will not be able to use a British bankcard overseas forever. Or, if you do, you’ll rack up charges like an open tab at a bar. Opening a bank account abroad is very tricky. Large global banks, such as HSBC, Lloyds and Santander, have services specifically for expats – so contact them for advice to open an account abroad.  

Tax

You may need to pay UK tax if you live abroad, depending on what your residency status is. If you’re taxed in more than one country, you could be eligible for tax relief.

Pets

Rules for pet travel vary from country to country. Some may require you to have them microchipped, vaccinated or placed in a quarantine, if they’re travelling with you. Others will deny entry for your pets, so you may have to make a difficult decision about whether you want to find them a new home.

Common Relocation Challenges

The challenges of moving abroad are not all paperwork and hoops. Some of them are of a more everyday nature – and you definitely need to factor them into your decision-making. Here are three common ones:

  • Mastering the new language – if you’re moving to a non-English-speaking country, you will need to learn the common tongue, preferably before the move. Apps like Duolingo or paid software like Rosetta Stone can come in handy. We also recommend having a digital or physical dictionary/translator to hand once you arrive.
  • Road rules – you may be able to use your UK Driving License or to purchase an International Driving Permit for up to 12 months. However, it’s quite likely you’ll need to apply for a license, or take a new test, in your destination country. Contact the local authorities to find out their policy.
  • Internet rules – making friends in a new city can be tough, but social media groups like Facebook or Meetup can be a saviour (although local language groups or classes can also be quite useful). In some countries, like China, they banned Google and Facebook, so you will need to find a new online hangout. Or even take the old-fashioned route (shudder!)

Who do I tell I’m moving abroad?

The first thing you need to do once the wheels are turning on your international move is to inform the relevant government offices. You will need to contact:

  • Council – tell your local council and give them a forwarding address
  • Benefits – tell the relevant benefit office and to see whether you will still be eligible to receive benefits
  • Pensions – contact the International Pension Centre
  • Student Loans – tell the student loan company and make sure you pay the right amount
  • Tax – update HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) to make sure you’re paying the right amount of tax
  • Voting and Citizenship – you will usually be able to vote from abroad, as your UK Citizenship is not affected when you move

It’s Time For: International Removals!

You’ve made up your mind, you’re taking Spanish lessons on the side and you’ve told your nearest and dearest – and the government – that you’re bound for horizons new. The countdown to your move date has begun.

The logistics of international moves are usually straightforward, though they do come with an added layer of complexity compared to domestic moves. To guide you through the process, here’s everything you need to know about international removals.

And that’s it. Happy moving and enjoy your new life abroad!

Need to book an international removals company for your move? Find and compare international  removals quotes in under a minute…

Hopefully these tips and tricks help. But what I hope I’ve made clear is that no two moves are the same. When moving internationally, don’t chance anything. Get as much help and advice from the professionals as possible. For expat stories, check out one of our expat interviews. And, for extra tips, you can always check out the Expat Exchange.

Finally, you may, after reading this, want to give the UK another chance. If so, we’ve got you covered – take a look at our guide to the best places to live in the UK.