“Hold on, to me as we go As we roll down this unfamiliar road
And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home
Settle down, it’ll all be clear
Don’t pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found” – Phillip Phillips – “Home”
“. . .’Cause I’m leavin’ on a jet plane
Don’t know when I’ll be back again” – John Denver – “Leaving On a Jet Plane”
Are you packing up your bags and saying goodbye to all you’ve known and hold dear? Perhaps, this isn’t your first rodeo when it comes to relocating, it is still nerve racking, exciting and intimidating. Let’s go through the steps taken before you relocate and become a citizen of the world a.k.a Expatriate. By the way an expatriate is a person who lives in foreign country.
CONTEMPLATION AND THOROUGH RESEARCH: You must be completely honest with yourself and thorough in your investigations. First ask yourself why Relocation is the answer or solution. Armed with an honest answer, draw up a table weighing your options between the proposed country and your present country of residence. Be sure to take every factor which must include healthcare and access, security, support system (family and friends), means of livelihood, finances, belief system, prejudice, culture, tribalism, growth opportunities, food and life expectancy. Review both countries on a points scoring basis, where you are and where you are intending to go to and the one with more points then vindicates your decision. Find other expatriates especially people from your country who already live there, ask deep not surface questions about life in that country as a foreigner. Their responses woul help shape your decision and prepare you. Remember, ignorance is not an excuse especially in today’s world, even if the decision really wasn’t yours, you still would be doing yourself a disservice if you do not do your homework.
FINANCES: This is a huge move you are about to make. Put your finances in order. Turn beady eyes on to your savings, expenses and investments. Ask your broker if you have one, to send you comprehensive reports on all your investments. This way, you can calculate and keep abreast of what you are worth. Good financial strength would also see you through the next step.
TRAVEL DOCUMENTS: Do you need a visa? What kind of visa? What documents do you need to present? Do you need a visa specialist? Try to find a reliable source, preferably a source with a 99.1% success track record. Be careful, you don’t want to lose money or be denied a visa, the choice of advisor is very important.
SELLING YOUR POSSESSIONS: Congratulations! You’re almost there! Travel documents and visa have been approved. If not, do hold off on this, but if you would run out of time, do tell prospective buyers your intended day of departure and DO NOT SPEND ANY OF THE MONIES PAID TO YOU FOR YOUR POSSESSIONS! This is because if you travel visa isn’t granted, you do not want to be destitute or possessionless until you have succeeded in reapplying or appealing. This way, you can cancel the sales and return all monies paid to you. Always protect yourself first. No one else cares about you. KEEP A LIST OF WHO BOUGHT WHAT AND INFORM THE BUYERS OF WHEN TO PICK UP
FLIGHTS: It is of utmost importance to find out if your intended carrier airline insists on a return ticket before you are allowed on your flight. Remember, ignorance is not an excuse.
INVESTMENTS: The temptation to liquidate all your assets and close your bank accounts would be very strong, but you must be stronger. Liquidate as little as possible and leave the rest to be your nest egg. The future is still pregnant and you can’t be a 100% sure what it would birth. Here’s where you apply the wisdom found in the adage: don’t burn your boats. Get your broker to send you your statements again and set a standing instruction for a monthly update.
SAY YOUR GOODBYES.
FOREIGN EXCHANGE: Find out who gives the better rates the Bureau d’Change or the Bank? Also find out transfer rates and which favours you financially. Do the maths and go with what’s best for you.
CARGO: This can be quite stressful. Trying to find a cost efficient and service efficient cargo company involves a lot of research. Best to go with a company that has verifiable success records.
SKILL AQUISITION: Why are you becoming an expatriate? Is a company taking care of your living expenses? Are you relocating to be with your spouse or partner? Are you relocating for educational purposes? Are you simply after a better life? If you replied yes to the last 3 questions, then you should better your earning capacity by learning new skills. You can never forget what you learn with your hands. You can only improve on it.
TRAVEL INSURANCE: How important is this? Extremely intranet! Do not ever travel without travel insurance. It saves you a lot of heart and head aches. Make sure it is comprehensive. It covers loss of luggage, theft, health emergencies,
OVERSEAS ACCOMMODATION: Have you finalised your accommodation arrangements? Ensure you do before you leave. Here are some options:
Mobile Home (Rent or Buy). Cover your bases before you leave. There is no room for mistakes at this point.
Sometimes you’ll laugh
Sometimes you’ll cry
Life never tells us
The when’s or why’s
When you’ve got friends to wish you well
You’ll find a point when
You wille exhale (yeah, yeah, say)
. . .
Hearts are often broken
When there are words unspoken
In your soul there’s
Answers to your prayers
If you’re searching for
A place you know
A familiar face
Somewhere to go
You should look inside yourself
You’re halfway there” – Whitney Houston – “Exhale”
Hey! It’s not as easy as you had thought, right? But, it is so exciting. What a grand adventure you are having. Your book is wonderfully blank and you can write whatever you want in it. Now, to stretch your limited budget, because this is always the case!
Research the available telecom providers before you commit yourself to one. Who has the most competitive rates?
Cook or buy precooked meals from supermarkets. You would find it cheaper than eating in restaurants or cafes. The food lasts longer too as you can always reheat leftovers. (More value for money).
Get a job if you need one and if your visa permits you to work.
Buy a used car. Forget about renting if you need to move around a lot. This would be too expensive. Buy from a verified dealer, please. Or you can look for a local car share deal offer. Car sharing is when you join up with other people who live and work in the same areas as you.
Get a local bank account. You would find that you would need this for a lot of things. The snag though is that you would be required to submit items like proof of residence, international passport and visa, utility bills that are addressed to you. If you are a corporate expat this should be easy peasy as your company would take care of most of the details. You might be required to produce employment contracts, pay slips and all. If you are not a corporate expat, this is quite tough especially if you know no one around! But, keep the faith, you would find a way around this.
Look into renting an apartment as soon as possible. You’ll need to register with estate agents for this so you can arrange viewings. All you would be required of at this stage is your name, email address, telephone or mobile number. If you have moved into the EU or USA, rent would normally be paid monthly. But as you have no rental history, be prepared to pay at least 6 months upfront, hopefully, you have set up a bank account. Also be prepared to ask a socially and financially stable friend or colleague who lives in the same locality or country as your intended place of abode to be your guarantor if you do not yet have a paid employment, or the full 12 months rent which you would most likely be asked to make. When you find a property to your liking, you would be required to make a formal application. This costs money. After which you would be required to give account details, previous overseas accommodation details including Landlord’s contact, so do not burn that bridge you still need it. If your application is successful after investigations, the rental agreement would proceed.
Register with the Health Centre nearest to you. Health is wealth. I don’t wish you health problems, but it is wise to be registered as you can avoid last minute emergency decisions which could lead to ridiculously high medical bills. I’m assuming, you took my earlier advice and got yourself a Travel Insurance for at least 6 months.
Find great bargains. Visit charity shops or recycled furniture shops to furnish your new apartment. You would find them online, so get internet surfing. (How on earth did we survive without the internet?) if you are in the U.K., there are places like the Decoporium which is an urban market of new and recycled household items by different vendors. All at great bargains. It is located in Thorp Arch, just off Wetherby, which is also referred to as as “Historic Market Town”, North Yorkshire. The search for Silly Billie led us there and what a great find it was. In the same lot you would find new beds and sofas at great prices too. If you are in the south, around Surrey or Sussex, Midhurst has a great and grand array of charity shops which sell awesome hardly used items at great bargains. Charity shops are shops which donate all its profits to a particular cause. Most people donate their no longer needed items and they sell at unbelievablely low prices. More often than not, you’ll find these items have barely been used. Another awesome way to get great bargains is to apply for Loyalty Cards from Supermarkets and retail stores. This entitles you to discounts and vouchers for free items. Think of it as a shopping savings scheme. In addition, when you go to the stores, visit the sales or discount section first. Always look out for items on promotions Also join buy and sell Facebook groups in your locality. The items sold are usually very affordable no longer needed items due to relocation, renovation or a lack of space.
Work on integrating into your new community. Sign up with a local charity or volunteer groups. Give your life more purpose than it presently has.
Local speech, jokes, culture and tradition: The one thing you absolutely do not need is to get off on the wrong feet with the locals. Take some time to study them so you integrate. Just like people respond better when you use their names, so do they when you make an effort to study, understand and use their slangs and neutral in jokes, observe their tradition and culture without putting your big foot in your mouth. Be respectful and you’ll be respected and embraced in turn. Remember you can’t visit a frog and demand he stops squatting so you can be comfortable. Squat like he is or leave.
Be prudent in your spending. Spend very wisely and cautiously. You don’t want to be penniless in a foreign land.
Invest. Once you have settled in, find investment advisers and invest some little money in credible bonds, shares or whatever low risk scheme with good returns is available.
Keep your existing support system close and keep your head up. You would be just fine!!!
Above all the internet can either be your friend or a foe so research research research for every bit of information you need to help you understand your new locality and please do be careful.