New Year, New Home—Part I
We’re but a couple of days to the New Year…
The last holiday in the seasonal marathon and one that causes excitement and anxiety in equal measures around the world. The potential and the promise… yet also the expectation and the daunting.
The optimist sees the shiny, golden path paved with nothing but good intentions and high expectations…
The pessimist, the cynic—the realist, perhaps—sees the uphill battle…
What does 2020 hold in store for you?
Do you approach it with trepidation or enthusiasm?
If you’re reading these newsletters every week, then I’d like to think you’re a go-getter. You’re looking to make changes, to get out there and stir things up, to make good things happen in your life. You’re likely looking at the year ahead with some healthy exhilaration.
Capitalize on these feelings of renaissance by getting serious about your overseas goals. Even if you don’t intend to move overseas in 2020, it’s never too early to start making a serious plan and chipping away at your live-overseas agenda.
Let’s take a step back and look at some of the big checklist items you should think about in setting yourself up for a life abroad…
- Visit the place first—and not as a tourist
Visit before you commit to any move. If at all possible, you should try to visit multiple times, including out of season. If you’re happy living in your new country during winter or rainy season, it’s a winner.
Try to get a taste for what your new life will be like while there. Shop weekly, look at the amenities nearby, and, most importantly, get to know the area’s transport options.
Find out what you can’t buy locally and what’s more expensive. If, for example, you can’t get A.1. steak sauce, you can bring a few bottles with you or check to see if shipment by Amazon is prohibitively expensive.
Speaking of shipping, look into customs fees—and don’t tell loved ones to send you care packages until you’re clear about the taxes you’ll incur when they’re delivered. The fees could be more than the items shipped in were worth to begin with.
Will you need your own vehicle to get about? Inquire about driving licenses—do you need to do a driving test or will your U.S. license allow you to drive? How easy is it to get your license switched over to the license of your new country?
If you are moving for work, make the commute as you would once you arrive. You might be close to your new office as the crow flies, but rush hour traffic can change that completely.
- Research your residency options
The sooner you get your residency visa the better. While it’s possible to stay in many places on a tourist visa, this often brings complications down the line. Trips to the border can eat into your time and savings. Immigration officials will sometimes get annoyed with these “border runs” (which are illegal in some countries)… and, if you’re suspected of trying to stay illegally, you can be sent home—even barred for re-entry.
Some countries make it easy to get residency… others not so much. Research your options and, ideally, speak with a lawyer about which path is best for your situation.
- Consider health care in your new home
Health care overseas is typically much more affordable than in the United States, but you should be sure to do research before committing to be sure all care and medications you may need are available without much trouble. If you’re currently on any prescriptions, look into their local price and if they’re more than back home, bring a few months’ supply with you when you move.
Also check out a local pharmacy for any over-the-counter meds you like to buy. You’ll likely be surprised that what you assume can be bought anywhere in the world isn’t available. When we go to the States, Harry and I stock up on Nyquil and Dayquil, and his nasal spray and heartburn pills. Since moving to Paris, we’ve added Tums and Pepto-Bismol to the list, neither of which are available in France.
- Figure out your new budget
Your expenses overseas won’t be the same as those back home, so you need to prepare a personalized budget that’s tailored to your new home. Will you have a car, for example? This is a major variable that makes a big difference in where a bulk of your money goes each month. If you own a home, you won’t have rent, and property taxes are likely to be negligible… if you plan to rent, though, do serious research into what’s available and the average monthly rates. Be sure to check what’s included in the rent, as this changes from place to place.
- What will you bring?
Our general advice is to move with as little as possible and give yourself a clean slate when you go overseas. If minimalism isn’t your thing, though, you’ll need to decide what you’re bringing and how to get it there.
All that stuff you left behind? Hopefully you were able to sell most of it (nice seed money for new things overseas) or rehome special items with loved ones you know will appreciate them. But there’s always a chance there were some things you weren’t able to part with but couldn’t bring with you (at least not yet). In this case, look into your best storage options, whether it’s a friend’s garage or an actual storage unit. I still have some books in my grandmother’s basement in Maryland from when I moved to Panama after college… and Harry and I have a small unit in Panama housing some books we haven’t relocated to Paris yet.
These five things are some of the first to think about when you plan for a move overseas, but they are mere drops in the bucket. Next week I’ll share my next five considerations. But honestly, even all together, these 10 are just the beginning…
To hear more about all these ideas in depth—and so much more that you’ll need to plan for—the real answer is to join us at next year’s Retire Overseas Conference…
The Events Team has just opened the doors on registration for our biggest event of the year… which, for 2020 has a brand new venue in my childhood hometown of Baltimore, Maryland.
Happy New Year!