Please tell me what to think about when going to live abroad?!

(42 Posts)
Lycraphobe Wed 20-Jan-10 15:11:42

DH was made redundant in November and we have decided to move abroad. We have always toyed with the idea but suddenly there is money in the bank and no job here. I don’t know where yet… I am interested in somewhere English speaking like Australia but DH thinks we should try somewhere in Europe. We have three DC (DS1 is 10, DD is 6 and DS2 is 2).

There just seems so much to do! Any advice please on where to go or even what we should be thinking about would be gratefully received!

OP’s posts: |
DLI Wed 20-Jan-10 17:59:17

europe is much much easier to move to. we looked at moving to new zealand and australia but it is so difficult if you havent got the right skill. What sort of jobs/qualifications have you got and what sort of work will be looking to do when you move?

kreecherlivesupstairs Thu 21-Jan-10 07:40:35

First of all I think you need to make sure that the country you single out has a need for your employment skills. You can't even think of moving to Switzerland without a job offer unless you come on a tourist visa (ie stay three months). You would need to research housing and education costs, not all countries offer free education. Health care costs, food costs, transportation..............the list is endless. Once you have a country in mind it will be easier. On top of the financial considerations, you've got language issues to think about too.
Good luck.

frakkinaround Thu 21-Jan-10 07:48:03

Pick your country first.

A good compromise might be somewhere in Europe where there are a lot of English speakers and bilingual schools if you are worried about the language. The Netherlands as a country is quite good for this but is expensive and I found Dutch difficult to learn! Paris is also fairly expensive but has a high proportion of English speakers, plus you're likely to have some knowledge of French. Scandanavians in general often speak English to make the transition easier for you - your children, if they go to local schools, would need some kind of adapted immersion programme.

It depends what kind of lifestyle you want, what you want to get out of the move and where you CAN move to. As others have pointed out Australia and NZ are difficult unless you have skills they want and the visas are 'points' based so one of you may qualify but one of you may not IYSWIM. Are either/both of you trained in 'shortage' areas? Or do you have easily transferrable skills to said areas?

When would you be looking to move? You'll have just missed the start of the school year for most of the Southern hemisphere.

ArcticFox Thu 21-Jan-10 07:49:20

Definitely realistically assess how easy it will be to get a job before you pack up and move. A lot of people say "Oh there are no jobs in the UK. Let's go somewhere else" but don't properly research what they can do, or just have some woolly idea about running a boutique hotel/ restaurant.

As DLI pointed out, Australia/ NZ are difficult unless you meet their skills/ investment criteria and US pretty much impossible. Within the EU you at least do not need a work visa, but then language is likely to impact what work you can do. Do you or DH speak any European languages fluently or could you get fluent quickly (i.e. good base which just needs immersion)?

A lot of people are looking to come to HK at the moment. Don't do it unless you have a job offer and have secured sponsorship. Living costs are very high and it's illegal to come her on a tourist visa and look for work.

Good luck in planning your adventure.

2010aQuintessentialOdyssey Thu 21-Jan-10 08:01:04

Realistically you need to think about where you or your dh can find work, and a visa to work.

Do you have a special European country in mind?

Do you speak any languages? If so, let that decide, because it is so much more difficult if you dont speak/read the language.

Dont assume that everything will work the same way as back home, regards to school, taxes, etc, so you need to CHECK up on everything once you get there, to make sure you do it right. Like, is the financial year also from april to march, or does it follow the calendar year, this is relevant for filing your first tax returns abroad, etc. What age do children start school? 4 as in the UK, or maybe 6?

If you dont speak the language, send the entire family on a language course pronto! It has taken my dh nearly 2 years to learn passable Norwegian, and that is after we moved here, and doing a full time course the first year. He has been relying on me for everything like simple phone calls to ask when a shop is closing.

You have to consider whether you would like to do something totally different, would you both be happy working as waiters? Or do you want to stick to the same careers?

Norway, for example, is a great country to live in, but you cant really survive on one salary, both parents work in 99% of families. But nurseries are heavily subsidised and you pay just £240 per month for a full time nursery place, and schools are free. Living standard is high, and the salary levels pretty even, so a shop assistant has a good salary and will easily live in a house similar in size to a bank manager.

Child benefit carries a higher rate than in the uk, and childcare is tax deductable. Cars are extremely expensive, more than twice the price of cars in the uk. It is not worth importing your car, as the brits drive on the wrong side of the road wink so your steering wheel is on the wrong side. Besides, import duty, on your own old car, will be so high, to ensure the cost of your car is brought up to Norwegian standards....

My sister moved to Spain a few years ago, and she is grappling with figuring out the differences, as she says Spain is very different to Norway, and by the sounds of it, quite different to the UK too.

Not that child benefit and import duty in Norway will matter to YOU, I am just saying this as an example of how you cant take for granted that things work the same as back home, so you need to double check quite a bit!

But it will be an adventure. And if you are both quite relaxed regards to material living standards and the kind of work you do, I am sure you can have a pretty good life just about anywhere.

But, it is a misconception that finding work and starting life in a foreign country is in any way easier than in your own home country where you know the ropes, the language and how the system works.

newkiwi Thu 21-Jan-10 08:01:54

We decided to move abroad, got a job for OH, renovated the house for renting, got work visa's and got on a plane very quickly. But it still took 6 months. And that was with work visa's which were turned around quickly due to OH's profession.

We looked at NZ, Oz, Canada and Singapore. We picked Auckland as OH thought the job would be most interesting but also cos they were supposed to be fastest. It was quite stressful to do it all on this time scale and OH had to do temp work for a few weeks when things got delayed which really sucked.

So it is stressful, but I'm so glad we did it. We planned to come for a year but have decided to stay a while. I feel so lucky to live where I do.

I guess a lot will depend on your professions. What do you want out of the experience?

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Lycraphobe Thu 21-Jan-10 09:27:39

We were thinking of setting up a property management/ maintenance service for English speaking people who have second homes abroad. So we were mainly looking at the places where people have been buying second homes in large numbers - Spain, France, Italy (maybe the ski places in Austria and Switzerland) and we were also looking at Australia and NZ (or Canada?) because then we wouldn't be restricted to having customers who are British 2nd homers.
I know it is underplanned and not-researched, but we have to start somewhere! Part of me is still trying to figure out how much we will be giving up here and how much we will miss it all. I guess there are things we take for granted - like seeing family and friends - but there will still be phone calls, emails and visits.

Neither of us speak any foreign language fluently and neither of us are naturally good at learning languages, but we could take a course and wouldn't we pick it up anyway just by being in a new country, just like all the immigrants to Britain have done?

What about the children? Is there a good age to move to new country? Is there anything we could do to make the transition easier for them?

OP’s posts: |
2010aQuintessentialOdyssey Thu 21-Jan-10 09:37:04

What professions are you in already?

Lycraphobe Thu 21-Jan-10 09:37:53

What do we hope to get out of this? A better life, leaving the rat race, more family time, no long commute.

OP’s posts: |
Lycraphobe Thu 21-Jan-10 09:41:50

I am a PA at the moment and DH was working for a property developer as his 2nd in command sort of thing! He has experience of plumbing, carpentry etc but mostly he was running the site, overseeing contracts etc.

OP’s posts: |
2010aQuintessentialOdyssey Thu 21-Jan-10 09:48:12

It is going to be quite a challenge running this in a foreign country, where you dont speak the language, and dont know the local regulations!

My sister employed such an agency, she made the mistake of signing up with a norwegian company, they employed other norwegian builders and subcontractors. They sadly did not know much about spanish plumbing and electrics, etc. She moved on to using local contractors sharpish after her flat had sustained some waterdamage from a leak in the shower in the flat above, and her agent had failed communicating with her spanish neighbour, and it turned out a real disaster. Spanish home insurance did not cover it, due to some technicality that she was not aware of, had not properly understood the small print. Anyway.

I wish you the best!

Lycraphobe Thu 21-Jan-10 10:00:40

Sounds like we should think again! What are the jobs people who move abroad can do if they change industry? Waitering? Estate Agency? B&B?

When I watch the TV program "No Going Back" almost everyone seems to have a b&b or hotel .. but is that because you'd only go on that sort of programme if you want to get publicity for your business?

OP’s posts: |
frakkinaround Thu 21-Jan-10 10:13:56

Have you considered private domestic placements?

Your DHs skills would be very useful as an estate manager and you may be able to work as a family PA - accomodation is usually provided and Greycoats place in New Zealand and are looking for builders.

FluffyDonkey Thu 21-Jan-10 10:28:26

I think you need to carefully consider what you have to offer in the ways of skills - and where there is a market for those skills. If you want to start up your own company, you NEED to understand local law and regulations. You also need to know the area well - how many competitors are there? Is there a market need?

Personally, I would suggest targeting a country, getting jobs working for someone else, and then work your way up to starting your own company.

I would never dream of starting up a company in a country that I barely know, without the language and with no friends or relatives to help!

You want to escape the rat race, but having a start-up in a random country, chosen because it's not the UK, would surely add a HUGE amount of pressure to your family?

FluffyDonkey Thu 21-Jan-10 10:32:51

Also bear in mind that many British people with second homes in Euroland are having to sell them because of exchange rates etc.

Also, living outside the UK does not exempt you from commutes, nor from long hours. Setting up a company always involves long hours - and it seems to me that you don't have contacts to help you start your customer list.

Don't mean to be so negative - just realistic. I love living abroad but it has been very difficult at times and you have to accept that you can't do things the way you used to.

2010aQuintessentialOdyssey Thu 21-Jan-10 10:37:31

I second what fluffydonkey is saying.

We moved to norway and started a subsidiary of the company we are running in the uk. Even if Norway is my home country, the law and regulations are so different, it has been a real struggle to get the formalities of the company up and running, dealing with law firms and accountancy firms, getting the legalities in order for opening a bank account, it has put enormous stress and strain on the relationship between dh and me. I have been perfectly fine doing the accounting for our uk firm, but accounting and tax legislation is so different here, I have to relearn my skills and learn both what is different and the same, while also handling my "actual" job with our uk company. Starting up a business abroad is not easy. I knew the language and the culture, but I did not where norwegian legislations and regulations differ from the uk, so even I have felt I have been fombling around in the dark.

I agree you should find work first, then consider starting up a business when you have more experience and knowledge of your area, both geographically and skills wise.

ben5 Thu 21-Jan-10 10:45:41

we moved to oz but they work on a points system to get in. we are based 45 mins south of perth and there are hundreds of english people here! i was surprised! visas and medicals are expensive and take a long time to sort out, ours took about 18months. we love it here and its very family friendly. the weather is also much better. we're just finishing week 5 of our summer holiday and haven't had any indoor days because of rain. in fact we haven't seen rain for months!! if you want to do it do it. facebook and skype keep us in contact with family and friends

LaRagazzaInglese Wed 03-Feb-10 02:08:48

I wouldn't if I were you. grin We moved abroad because we 'had' to, (and kinda wanted to) it's really not all that, you learn everything as you go along, which is good for the soul but can be disappointing when it's not how you expected it to be. Unless you really hate the UK, i would take plenty of time (maybe years) on deciding on a move abroad. It was difficult for us as an unmarried couple (at the time) and DH being native, but with a young family in tow I would think twice. Maybe get some sort of holiday home and visit A LOT before permanently moving. Sorry if ive peed on your fire. But remember, life is short and everyone's different, most expatriots are happy and successful, if you think it'll improve you and your family's life then do it, but be prepared and do as much research as possible. Anyway you can always move back! hmm

upandrunning Wed 03-Feb-10 02:52:45

Visa requirements vary but it is so much easier if you go with an employer, even on a local basis.

You will need a lot of money just for the first year. A year's school/nursery fees for the three of them and a year's rent. Relocation and shipping alone could come to five to ten thousand. School fees at international schools can be higher than UK private schools and rents in the three countries I've lived in are all higher than the UK.

You need to think this through much more thoroughly and check forums, visa regulations, restrictions, official languages (eg some Asian countries have English as an official language). Make a list of three countries and research heavily.

On your random and rough ideas I would be looking at the states. And if you have a house in the UK DON'T SELL IT for now.

upandrunning Wed 03-Feb-10 02:53:37

and ps you can't run away from the rat race grin

upandrunning Wed 03-Feb-10 02:55:39

Just to give you an idea of our experience: three years in Europe, for example, the expenditure on schools and rent per year was 110,000 euro.

mathanxiety Wed 03-Feb-10 03:15:26

There's Canada too, and Ireland. I know Irish people who went to the Middle East and worked in construction/ engineering/ site management, but those jobs were with big international construction companies -- I don't know if this is still an area with much construction going on. The pay and opportunities were good there for a long time though.

Have you considered using whatever money you have saved to go back to school, get qualified at something else, and branch out into some area in the UK that's more recession-proof than construction management/ property development?

nooka Wed 03-Feb-10 04:24:56

I think that the feasibility of this depends on whether you have enough money to get a entrepreneur type visa for Canada/Australia/NZ (visas not an issue for Europe obviously). For Canada you have to bring in CD$300,000, and then set up a business that employs Canadians.

You might have a good chance of getting in to Canada, construction managers are on the "list" of occupations in demand, and there is also Contractors and Supervisors, Carpentry Trades. On the list means that you can apply for permanent residence from the UK, and be reasonably likely to get it so long as you are relatively well educated, and speak good English (but it takes perhaps a year or so). Alternatively your dh could apply for jobs directly from the UK and then get sponsorship for the move - that might take six months or so from job offer to starting work.

Bear in mind that emigrating is really very expensive - we think we could probably have gone on a sabbatical for a year and traveled the world for less than it cost to relocate (although we did do it twice in six months). I've seen quoted £30,000 as a reasonable cost to move to North America.

Then for your children it is a huge upheaval, especially for older children (my ds had just turned 9 when we moved, and I think he has just about recovered, two years later - dd on the other hand has sailed through the whole thing, so personality is very important too - the more outgoing the easier really).

Anyway, for a good set of opinions and lots of info, I recommend British Expats britishexpats.com/

ArcticFox Wed 03-Feb-10 06:36:11

Um, from experience, don't move to the Middle East to work in construction if you're on a quality of life ticket.

The problems are:

1. All hiring is done on local packages now (no housing, schooling , health etc)

2. Construction is a 6 day week and long unsociable hours.

3. A lot of jobs that were done by westerners are now done by migrant labour from the subcontinent who have learnt on the job and got promoted (transfer of skills)

There are still opportunities in Saudi/ Qatar BUT these are highly sought after by people rushing out of Dubai.

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