A life abroad is more than bricks and mortar

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(London Post – PR) FCO urges British nationals planning to retire abroad to learn more about their destination before moving.

With six million British nationals planning to head overseas when they retire* , the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is teaming up with ‘A Place in the Sun’ to urge UK retirees and others considering a move abroad to think long-term and plan thoroughly.

According to ‘A Place in the Sun’, there has been a swing back towards more established destinations since the global downturn, with Spain, Portugal and France proving to be particularly popular – both for buying a second home and full-time relocation. For many, moving to foreign climes to settle down in a place with warmer weather, different scenery and a change in lifestyle is an appealing prospect.

But there are many things to consider to help ensure a smooth transition. Despite the importance of being prepared before heading overseas, a recent survey** has suggested that only a third of British nationals (32%) believe doing their own research is the most important thing to do before moving. Just one in ten (10%) saw their long-term financial requirements as the most important factor.

James Duddridge, Minister for Consular Affairs, said:

Moving abroad can be a wonderful experience, but living somewhere new is very different to your average holiday. It’s crucial to think about the future and allow plenty of time to do your research.

A permanent or semi-permanent move overseas involves many practical and social changes. We would advise British nationals to take their time to research all aspects required for a successful move, such as the laws and customs of your future home country, the long-term financial implications for you and your family, any legal issues requiring independent advice and your current and future health needs. Remember, relocating is about more than bricks and mortar.

Andy Bridge, Managing Director of A Place in the Sun, said:

It’s no coincidence that people who make the most successful transition abroad are those who are fully prepared and have done their research. Considering long-term financial requirements, learning the local language and seeking independent legal advice are just some of the important things you should think about. The FCO‘s moving abroad checklist (PDF, 224KB, 1 page) is a good place to start.’

Carole Hallett Mobbs, editor of ExpatChild.com, moved to South Africa over a year ago and comments:

I speak to British expats frequently, and often people forget simple, everyday steps such as cancelling their water back in the UK, which is a difficult task when you could be thousands of miles away. I would advise those looking to move abroad not to cut all financial ties with their home country when they move. Having a UK bank account left open can prove extremely useful when you discover an outstanding bill or utility needs sorting out, or in case of an emergency.

Almost half (46%) of the survey respondents who already live abroad said their top piece of advice for those looking to relocate is to be realistic with their expectations. Hallett Mobbs echoes the sentiment:

Successful expats are those who go into their new life with their eyes open, and with a sense of adventure tempered by realism. The grass isn’t greener, it’s just different grass.

If you are planning to move abroad, visit the FCO’s Living Abroad page for more information, or see our video guide.

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