Lots of Service-leavers conjure with the idea of leaving the UK for a better lifestyle or to experience a warmer climate. Here’s our non-exhaustive guide to what to look for if you’re considering leaving.
It’s important to think about how you’re going to make a living. Traditionally, the more qualified you are, the easier it is to move overseas, so doctors and other specialist professionals won’t have much problem.
You need to look at your transferable skills and qualifications and match them, ideally, to a place where there might be a shortage. Keep your knowledge up to date during your moving process (which might take months or years) to make sure that trends haven’t altered since you first looked into it. (You could always retrain or top-up your qualifications before you move.)
Not every country has the same attitude towards home ownership as we do in the UK, where it’s seen as a mark of social status and preparedness for retirement. Lots of countries regard a mortgage as a pointless life-long commitment amounting to little more than a financial prison sentence. Of course, house prices are also different between countries and in different regions (just as they are in the UK). This is a major decision that will require lots of homework.
Ideally, you’d be able to visit the destination before making your ‘final’ move but this isn’t always practical. It’s a good idea to get a range of opinions by contacting a few estate agents and by reading specialist emigration magazines and websites. There are also specialist emigration exhibitions that run annually such as Down Under Live. (Be aware of bias and salesmanship.)
Clearly, if you plan to move to South Korea, little Fido might end up on the menu, whilst in other countries with the correct paperwork, inoculations and probably a period in quarantine he’ll be welcomed. Brutally speaking, it might be better to part company with your budgie or hamster pre-trip, since rules and regulations can be complicated (and mean further expense).
Safety and security
It doesn’t always feel like it but the UK is a very safe country. You may be considering moving to a place where you’ll be relatively well-off and whilst this is comfortable it could make you a target for crime. This is an issue that you’ll have to give serious thought to when you make decisions on where you’re going to live.
Similarly, you’ll need to have a handle on the prevailing laws (and social climate) in order to avoid becoming, accidentally, the ‘criminal’ element yourself.
Rules, rights and laws
Again, the UK also has a relatively progressive and liberal society where people are treated with respect and equality. This isn’t the case the world over. Issues like racism, sectarianism and sexism can be confusing for people that aren’t used to it.
Ignorance will not be an acceptable reason for breaking the law in any country. If you settle in an Islamic state, for instance, like Dubai, it’ll be illegal for you to import pork products or to eat, drink or even smoke in public during Ramadan.
Depending on where you live in the UK you might begrudge paying for prescriptions let alone for healthcare generally. Whilst lots of countries either run fully free health services like our NHS others will only provide free emergency care or no free healthcare at all. This might be a worry if you do a dangerous job or frankly, if you are considering living abroad until your twilight years when age might start to take its toll.
Families should consider what kind of school (college and university) provision there is. Not only do you need to establish the quality of education but also on what principles it’s based on, for example, particular religious morality, or even in what language your children will be taught.
Surely it can’t be any colder than in the UK can it? This is one of the top indicators when it comes to Brits aiming to emigrate. Being picky for a moment on even this seemingly ‘no-brainer’, there can be difficulties regarding geographical phenomena such as firestorms (or on the flipside, floods). Also look out for some of the world’s most deadly creatures, most of whom also prefer the sunny side of the street (hint: Australia gets mentioned a lot on such lists).
You need to realise early on in your thinking that you aren’t going on holiday. You’ll need to consider which banks are going to be best to secure and grow your lump sum or pension pot as well as deciding with whom to take out insurance and a mortgage.
Don’t forget to sort out your tax. Unless the system is straight forward and you can do it all in English you’ll need to hire an accountant or tax practitioner. (There’s no escape.)
Unless you’re still living the single life it’s important to make a decision that suits everybody. Crucially, it’s important not to ‘sell’ or ‘persuade’ your partner into sharing your dream. Of course, you need to outline the opportunities that you’ve discovered but be careful to avoid a situation where they’ll make a rash decision and potentially end up blaming you for it.
This is a question of culture. There are going to be things that you love about your new home but there are going to be things that you miss about the UK. Some of this is likely to be proximity to people like you, unless you live in a popular ex-pat community. Going out to the places you like and meeting up with like-minded people might be more difficult than you imagine.
It’s true that English is a global language. It’s the language of travel and business, meaning that even complicated issues such as those relating to your financial matters might well be conducted in a familiar tongue.
Keep in mind that if you don’t live in a major town or city that people are likely to be more parochial and revert to their native language. Even if they don’t, regional dialect, phrasing and accents can be confusing for you (and them).
How often do you want to visit home? Family connections have a major pull on peoples’ ability to resettle properly. Again it’s very important to establish your partner’s viewpoint on this.
Transport links to home
If you resettle in Europe or a different part of the British Isles it’s not going to be too difficult to get home but if you’re over the other side of the world your ability to respond in good time during say, a family crisis, is going to be severely compromised. You may need to be both philosophical and realistic about the distances involved.
Are you going to be able to acquire the goods and services that you require to maintain the lifestyle you want? This might be simple stuff like foodstuffs or even things like a new part for your car. It’s going to depend on supply and demand. If nobody else eats Sugar Puffs for breakfast, the shop won’t sell them.
Again, remember that you aren’t going on holiday but it may be that you can afford to reduce your working hours or that you’re going to a country that has a generally more laid back attitude or lower expectations of productivity.
Best advice is not to buy a house on a fault line, especially the Hayward fault near San Francisco which slips every 140-150 years. The last quake was in 1868 making it due to go again anytime soon.
It’s probably best to avoid anywhere in Indonesia that’s near to Krakatoa because that volcano is also due, as is Vesuvius in Italy, so don’t resettle in Pompei either.