preparing for life as an expat

Preparing for life as an expat: 4 top tips

There’s nothing more exciting than preparing for life as an expat, packing up your life and moving your family to a new country. But it’s important to ensure you’re thoroughly prepared first, especially if you have young children and a growing family. Here are four top tips to consider to ensure your new adventure is as stress-free as possible.

1. Be prepared for the culture shock

To ensure you’re not overwhelmed by the chaos of a new country when you first make the move abroad, ensure you learn as much as you can beforehand. For example, if you’re moving to a country that doesn’t speak English as its first language, consider taking a foreign language class. If you don’t have the time to attend physical classes, consider enrolling on an online course instead.

It will also be advantageous to read as much as you can about the people and traditions you will find when you move. Look up local publications and enlighten yourself on the dos and don’ts in order to fit in – this way you’ll avoid upsetting or insulting somebody.

Once you’ve made the move, consider joining expat clubs and social groups to meet other families who have gone through the same process.

2. Maintain your health

Before you leave Australia, ensure you’ve had a complete health check. Settling into a new lifestyle and city can be stressful, so you want to make sure you’re fighting fit before you make the move. You and your family could be affected by jet lag, unfamiliar food or even air pollution, and you may find you struggle at first to maintain your old fitness regime.

3. Don’t rush choosing a school for your kids

Although children usually adapt pretty quickly to new surroundings and cultures, finding the right school for them is important in order to meet their needs. Don’t enrol them in the first school you find – be sure to take a tour of the facilities and ask questions regarding any concerns you have.

As a bonus tip, double check the school has a supportive community as well as volunteer opportunities. This will help both you and your children integrate easily and quickly.

4. Pay off your non-deductible debt

If you have a large amount of non-deductible debt already, try your best to clear as much of it as you can before you leave. If you move abroad with an overwhelming amount of debt, it’s likely you’ll return with even more, especially considering life as an expat can often include some unexpected surprises. If you can’t or don’t wish to sell your home in Australia, a good way to cover these expenses is to rent it out to a long-term tenant.

For more expat advice, including tips on tax issues, overseas income and financial problems, contact our team at Expat Tax Services today.

Shane Macfarlane CA
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