In the run-up to any relocation abroad, it can suddenly seem as if there are a hundred things to think about. It brings excitement and stress in equal measure, and one of the biggest challenges is keeping everything on track.
Sadly, the recipe for a totally stress-free move is yet to be found. But as global expat health insurance.
1. Paperwork: early preparation pays off in the long-run.
The official government websites for most countries include an information portal for immigrants. Here, you should find confirmation of the documents you will need to produce as part of the application process. It should also give you an indication of how long the process will take.
Depending on the length and type of the visa you need, the documents you will require will tend to consist of a current passport, confirmation of legal residence, information from your proposed employer detailing your new job, salary level and length of employment – along with evidence to show that you will be able to support yourself during the trip, such as six months of bank statements or pay slips.
Even if you are not required to produce detailed information on your financial situation (if you are entering the country on a work visa, for instance), it’s still worth getting together documents to show proof of this – as it may come in useful in all sorts of ways when you get there, from opening a bank account through to getting a contract on a mobile phone. You won’t have a credit record in the country you are moving to, so to help prove your creditworthiness, it’s worth getting a copy of your credit report from a credit agency in your own country to take with you.
Finally, a top tip on the passport front; you don’t have to wait until it expires to renew it. In the UK (along with several other countries), time left on a current passport can be credited to a new one up to a maximum of nine months. For planned relocations of a year or less, many countries stipulate that passports must be valid for at least six months beyond the date of return. In any event, it’s often easier to renew from your home country before you leave than it is from abroad.
2. Finding somewhere to live: consider a short rental option
Unless you have friends or family to rely on – or unless your employer is making accommodation arrangements, you obviously need to arrange somewhere to stay from the moment of arrival. But you don’t want to commit long-term to a particular property or neighborhood until you have a ‘feel’ for the place.
If this is the case, then focus on arranging a short-let property before you get there. Increasingly available not just in big cities but also smaller towns, they are designed to be let for anything from a few weeks to a few months.
Although a short-let tends to be more expensive than a longer lease, their big advantage is flexibility, giving you the option to extend the arrangement on a weekly or monthly basis; ideal for expats while they look for something more permanent. They also tend to be fully furnished with utility bills included, thereby helping you to keep control of your budget.
3. Schools and family: factor in term times.
When it comes to schools, the choices you make will be informed by a number of factors, including the age of the children and the proposed length of your stay.
For a temporary move, of say, a year or two, the focus could be more on finding an establishment that allows your child to follow the curriculum of your home country (examples include Lycée International de Londres in London or British International schools throughout the UAE). Your current educational authority as well as the consulates in your intended destination country should be able to provide guidance here.
The Cigna Global International Schools Finder tool is a resource to help expats in their challenge of moving and settling abroad. The first of its kind – its intelligent and responsive map is especially designed for expats to search, locate and find details of thousands of international schools across the world.
4. Moving your possessions: finding the best deal.
You obviously want your possessions to reach your new home in one piece – and without it costing the earth. Going with the first removals company you come across through a Google search is a risky strategy. Instead, do your research and try to get quotes from at least three companies. When comparing quotes, be sure you are comparing like with like by checking if all ancillary costs such as port handling charges and unloading fees are included.
As a sign of trust, look carefully at recommendations and industry-recognised accreditation. If the company is accredited by FIDI (the largest global alliance of professional international moving and relocation companies), it shows it has been audited for quality purposes as a reliable international mover.
5. Is healthcare covered? Think IPMI for peace of mind.
Local healthcare provision varies enormously from country to country. Even within a particular country, provision can vary depending on where you happen to be based. Local healthcare is not always particularly “expat-friendly” in terms of what you are entitled to – not to mention making sense of the system.
International Private Medical Insurance (IPMI) can prove invaluable for expats and their families. Its portable nature makes it ideal for people who spend extended periods in different parts of the world, and the best policies enable you to fill in important gaps in existing company health insurance plans. What’s more, it can be incredibly reassuring to have customer service assistance in a language you fully understand – no matter where you are based.