Relocation to a new home abroad can be a complex undertaking and will be influenced by the laws and regulations of your home country as well as those of your planned destination. It will be influenced by your motivation to move and whether you are moving permanently to a new home you have purchased or if you are moving for a short term assignment to serviced apartments. Accompanying partners, families and/or pets all add levels of challenge and complexity. Whatever your situation we aim to provide you with the information you need.
Over the years a comprehensive industry has built up to support relocating expats. Many of the larger companies are focussed on delivering service to the assignees of large corporates and it is often difficult to identify reliable, quality service providers who are able to service your intended destination and are prepared to provide services to individuals relocating. Review our Service Directory to identify service providers able to meet your needs and then rate their performance so that future users have the benefit of your experience.
Many factors need to be addressed when relocating including the following:
In preparing for your move abroad one of the first things to address is what you will be leaving behind. You will need to address all of these before you begin planning your relocation:
- Existing Home – If you own a property you will need to decide whether to sell or rent out your property. This will be influenced by a number of factors, such as the planned or potential length of your stay overseas, housing market conditions in the home market, whether the house is likely to be suitable for your needs when you return as well as personal sentimental issues around your attachment to your home. There are clearly risks in being out of the home market for any prolonged period of time, but the practicality, finances and other factors of renting out your home will also have an impact and you should take advice before coming to a decision.
Banking and Financial Issues – When going abroad, particularly if your income will be coming from overseas sources for a period, there can be issues with your investments and pension arrangements that need to be addressed, including (among many others):
- Global taxation of income for US citizens can make many investment vehicles offered in other jurisdictions unattractive in some cases and you should not assume that financial advisors overseas will automatically be familiar with the implications. Many US advisors may not be familiar with the implications of a period in a particular location overseas. Take advice, but ensure they are qualified to provide all aspects of the advice.
- National Insurance contributions in the UK – you need to consider the impact on your and any accompanying partner’s National Insurance Contributions and its impact on pension eligibility etc.
- How will you fund regular payments in your home country while you are overseas? Do you need to leave an arrangement to ensure that the account is in funds when the bank makes the payments? If you fund from an account in your new home remember that you may be subject to exchange rate risks.
- Taxation – Taxation arrangements in the new country will have their own complexities and this will be even more so if you are moving with an existing employer and either benefiting from tax equalisation arrangements or will be partly paid from your home payroll. In the year of departure in many countries you will have paid taxation on the assumption that you are there for a full twelve months. If you leave part way through the year you may not, as assumed by the system, reach income levels that take you into higher tax brackets and so you may be due a tax refund. Ensure that you claim a refund before you leave. If you are a US citizen you remain liable to US tax on your global income. If leaving the UK and many other countries there will be rules based around residence, domicile and other factors that will determine whether you have an ongoing liability to tax. Property or other investments owned in your home country may also give rise to tax liabilities.
Planning your relocation should not be underestimated nor should it cause undue stress. Ensure that you have thought through the issues and get appropriate support and all should go smoothly. Wherever possible you should arrange or get your employer to arrange an orientation visit in advance of committing to the move so that you can see what life will be like in your new destination and so that you have the information you need to effectively plan your relocation.
Depending on the nature of your relocation, whether you have accompanying family, the nature of your destination and other issues the relocation may be best carried out with the assistance of a Relocation Management Company. Your options are as follows:
- Self-service – Identify all of the issues you need to address and hire service providers yourself who can help you in each aspect. This may include an international removal company, immigration advice and processing, language tuition, destination services, such as short term accommodation arrangements on arrival (eg., long stay hotels or serviced accommodation), home-finding, selecting appropriate educational arrangements for accompanying partners or family as well as many other issues.
- Relocation Management Company – these companies have often developed out of international removal companies and have added a number of other services that their clients typically require. In some cases this is simply a random set of services that they have developed in other cases they will take over every aspect of the move using their pre-selected service providers or affiliates. Be sure that you are clear on the range of services to be provided and what issues you will need to cover yourself. Also be sure that they have experience of and suitable arrangements for handling relocation to your chosen destination.
- Online DIY Relocation Management – a fairly recent development has been a service where you can go online and identify all of the services you will need and book those services through the same site. These are fairly new and unproven and you rely upon their selection of service providers in each location being based on sound principles, but has the potential to make for efficient one-stop vendor selection and contracting.
Overall the key to success is to identify and plan for all of the issues that you will need to address and then to ensure you have experienced service providers able to support you through the relocation. Selection is key and should involve comparing the prices, quality and attitude of at least three providers of each service wherever possible.