Expat checklist: what to know before moving abroad

Contributed by Cigna Global, 09 January, 2017

The element of surprise is often one of the most enjoyable things about moving abroad – especially when it comes to things like meeting new people and discovering the hidden gems of your new home city.

But, of course, not all surprises are as welcome – such as the fact that the price of a coffee is three times higher than back home, or that the daily commute is twice as long. Fortunately, international healthcare insurance experts, Cigna Global have quite a track record in making the transition to a new home as easy as possible for expats. As such, here's Cigna's checklist on what to find out before you make your move…

Paperwork: what do you need, and when?

The last thing you need is for your well-laid plans to be put on hold while you wait for an application to be processed or for an original document to be returned from the notary's office. When you've made the decision to go, see what documents you will require, and, crucially, how long it's going to take for any application process to go through.

The website for the relevant country's consulate or immigration department is usually the best port of call for this information. If the application for either a visa or work permit is deemed unsatisfactory or incomplete for whatever reason, you can expect it to be sent back to you for the whole process to start again. As such, pay special attention to the guidance provided on supporting documentation (things like bank statements, college enrolment papers and offer letters from employers). Start collating these documents early to avoid a last minute scramble.

Budgeting: what is the cost of living?

Is the move truly viable from a financial point of view? One of the most reliable ways to find out is to start by drawing up a list of all the expenses you are likely to incur in a typical week or month in your proposed destination: food, rent, utilities, transport, healthcare, local taxes.

Next, do your research to work out your likely spend in these areas; expat forums can be a useful source of information on this. Armed with the information, you should have a clearer idea of what level of income you will require to meet your basic needs. Likewise, looking at typical costs for things like restaurants and local attractions should help to show what level of discretionary income you will need to have the type of expat experience you desire in terms of standard of living.

Employment: are there any barriers to working?

For most expats who are moving for employment purposes, eligibility to work will be determined as part of the formal work permit application process. For others, work might not be the primary reason for the move, but they nevertheless intend to pick up some form of employment on arrival; students looking to take on a part-time role or a retiree willing to take on a consultancy role, for instance. In these situations, check carefully for any special restrictions that may apply – such as weekly limits on the number of hours permitted. This also applies to trailing spouses.

Professionals, especially, should check that their credentials are acceptable in the new country. General immigration department websites rarely have detailed information on this, so make specific enquiries with the governing body of your profession in the relevant country.

The relocation package: does it cover everything?

If you are moving on a job secondment or to a permanent role in an overseas branch, don't be too hasty to agree to a specific relocation package until you have done your research. What costs will be involved in selling your existing property and tying up loose ends? What about the cost of removals, storage, short-term rental and kitting out a new home abroad? Get a clearer picture on all of this before you start to negotiate.

Health insurance coverage may also be part of the deal. If this is the case, don't automatically assume that this will give you all the protection you need for you and your family. This is one of the areas where international private medical insurance (IPMI) can be so beneficial for expats; the flexible approach offered by Cigna Global makes it possible to fill in the gaps in existing coverage – including employment-related policies.

Families: what is the position on childcare and school provision?

Before you fall in love with a particular property in your destination city, take a step back to consider the logistics and childcare and the school run. As a starting point, think about how long you intend to be away and what type of expat experience you envisage for the children. This should guide your choice on whether to go for a local school or one that follows an international curriculum.

Check out Cigna's International Schools Finder to locate and find details of thousands of international schools across the world.

Healthcare: will it live up to your needs and expectations?

It's important to consider not just the reputation of the healthcare system in your new destination country, but also how easy or difficult it is going to be to access those services in 'real life'. Bear in mind that even where public healthcare provision is generally good, it's not unusual to find local and regional variations – especially in areas such as waiting times and quality of outpatient care.

Making sense of all of this can be hard going for any expat, which is one of the reasons why so many opt for IPMI; it makes it easier to access the best possible care available and bypass local deficiencies.

To find out more about the benefits of IPMI for expats and for a quote, visit Cigna Global today.

Cigna Global is a global health service leader dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security.

Cigna Global is a provider of premium international health insurance for the most discerning expatriates and globally mobile individuals.

Cigna Global has provided global health insurance for many years. Today, Cigna has 86 million customer relationships in over 200 countries and jurisdictions, and looks after them with an international workforce of 37,000 people, plus a medical network comprising of over 1 million partnerships, including 89,000 behavioural health care professionals, and 11,400 facilities and clinics.

With Cigna Global Health Options, you can create an international health insurance plan that's perfectly tailored for the needs of you and your family. They provide the reassurance of comprehensive core cover, and the flexibility of adding extra benefits to ensure you have a plan perfectly suited to your needs.

Contact: Cigna Global
Address: The Grosvenor Building, 72 Gordon Street, Glasgow G13RS, Scotland
Telephone Outside the US: +44(0)1475 779161
Inside the US: 877.539.6295


Tags: Healthcare | Professionals | Employment | Healthcare | individuals | expatriates | professionals | Scotland | services | public health | insurance | health care | food | tax |



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