expat move overseas

Preparing for your first expat move overseas

So you’re about to undertake your first expat move overseas? An overseas posting is a major turning point in your career. It demonstrates an acknowledgement of your skills and abilities to deliver the desired outcomes in what is an increasingly competitive global employment environment.

If you are single, the move is likely without hassle. A bag and off you go! With a family in tow, it is a different prospect altogether. Anxieties can rapidly multiply depending upon the size of your family. The earlier they are addressed, the better it will be for you at work.

Many of the anxieties of moving abroad are associated with everyday matters and the fear of the unknown. They tend to be overlooked. We highlight 3 of them in this article.

1. It’s a different lifestyle

From the weather, people, language, culture to getting around, expect changes. Between you and the rest of the family, the latter tends to be affected more by them. While you’re at work, they have to deal with these changes more than you would have to.

A few short trips to help them get a feel of their new surroundings will help. Do not underestimate the impact of these trips. Familiarity can ease them into new surroundings faster.

2. You’ve got friends!

Nothing can be more emotionally draining than to have ‘no one you know’ in a new place. You’ll have colleagues. That helps with your social network to some extent and it definitely helps you for your first expat move overseas. It isn’t quite the same for the family however.

While you may start with the families of your colleagues, it may not be ideal. You might want to explore the local community, sports club or other social networks that your family may have an interest in.

In many countries around the globe, there will be various Australian clubs, social, sporting and business groups that we’d highly recommend that you and your family join. In fact, if you love Australian Rules Football, or you have children that participate in Auskick, do a quick Google search for the area where you will be living as there is a thriving expat AFL community and most countries have at least one AFL team that regularly trains and plays (other teams from within the region).

Joining an Australian group or sporting club overseas is highly recommended because you will immediately build a network with other Aussies that have a common bond with yourself by virtue of your joint heritage. Embracing that network is a very important first step as you’ll gain insights and information about your new home, you’ll be invited to attend social events and you’ll feel included from the get-go!

3. Cost of living

Don’t sweat the big stuff, yet. It is everyday essentials – groceries, household items and personal care that matter more. We are creatures of habit. Changing a brand or variant can be a traumatic experience for some, but it can be fun trying something new!

If you must have the same products (such as an essential in my book . . . Vegemite), you’ll find that it will probably cost more, but if you’re like me, sometimes you’ll buy it regardless. Either way, determining the availability and price of products that you miss, helps and this is where your network (from above) comes in – your network will be able to tell you where you can find the things that you need, want, or miss from home. Depending upon what’s critical for you, in some extreme cases, you might be better off packing those Australian product necessities with you.

Doing so will assist with the transition from Australia to overseas as settling the family in is important as it will allow you to focus on your work quickly.

4. Understand the tax, financial and other implications of moving overseas

If you’re making a move overseas, particularly for the first time, when it comes to tax and finances, there are just so many unknowns. So it’s generally a good idea that in the lead-up to leaving Australia that you learn not only about the new country where you will be heading to, but that you learn about the Australian taxation consequences of your move overseas.

Australia has extremely complex residency rules that can sometimes mean that you may remain an Australian tax resident (and taxed on your worldwide income) whilst you are living overseas.

So it’s important that you understand:

  • the potential Australian taxation obligations and issues relating to your move overseas,
  • how Australia’s residency rules will apply to you,
  • how every element of income that you earn from all sources around the world, will be taxed,
  • how every asset that you own (or may own in the future), no matter where that asset is located, may be taxed,
  • how Australia’s double taxation treaties apply to your circumstances,
  • the various tax opportunities and tax traps that they may apply to your circumstances, and
  • other tips and tricks relating to living and working overseas as an Australian expat.

Accordingly, if you’re heading overseas we highly recommend that you book an ‘Outbound Expat’ tax consultation with us, or another specialist expatriate tax firm sooner rather than later.

In that appointment, we’ll run through all of the above the issues for you. We’ll answer any and all questions that you may have about how Australian taxes apply to your circumstances, and we’ll strategise with you so that you achieve the best outcomes for you whilst you are living and working overseas.

That way, when it comes to your taxes and finances, you’ll have a good handle on how everything works, you’ll understand the opportunities that are available to you and ultimately you’ll be set up for success for your time overseas!

Next Steps

If you are interested in learning more and/or booking our “Outbound Expat’ tax consultation, you can do so here at Book an Appointment page or alternatively send us a message by contact us here.

Our team will be more than happy to be guide you through everything and to help you to understand the various tax and other issues as they apply to your circumstances.

We’ve been advising Australian expats on the various Australian and international taxation issues involved in living and working overseas for almost 13 years now so we’re well placed to help and we’d be more than happy to assist you and your family in making the move overseas a happy and successful one! Contact our Expat Tax Services team today.

Shane Macfarlane CA
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