The coronavirus has been creeping its way across the globe since December 2019, and has now evolved into a full-scale global pandemic. Almost every person in the world has been affected in some way – some are having to contend with themselves or their loved ones contracting the virus, while others are swiftly adjusting to an indefinite period of self-isolation and social distancing.

Meanwhile, due to national and global travel restrictions, a lot of people are currently living in limbo, with their dream move abroad now suddenly on hold.

But though it might not feel like it at the moment, there is a light at the end of the tunnel – and once we reach it, it’ll finally be time for you to venture to your new home.

So, if you’re currently feeling deflated about your move abroad, we’ve compiled a list of the things that you can do to prepare for it from home. Rather than dwelling on the postponement of your new adventure, utilise this time to make sure your move abroad goes as smoothly as possible (when it happens). 

people packing boxes in house

A couple packing boxes before their move abroad

1. Learn the country's language

Whilst it’s possible to live in a country without knowing the language, life sure would be easier if you could speak to people independently, don’t you think? 

So, why not take this opportunity to learn your new country’s language whilst you self-isolate? Thanks to the abundance of digital technology we can access while sitting at home, you can learn a new language from the comfort of your own sofa.

For example: 

 

  • Look into online classes Now that most of the world is self-isolating, virtual classes are becoming a part of everyday life. Companies such as Dexway and Verbling offer online classes that support you in learning a new language. 
  • Use language apps There is an app for everything these days, including ones to help you learn a language. We recommend dipping into Duolingo or Memrise to get yourself more familiar with another language. Both apps are free, and make learning a language feel like less of a chore.
  • Immerse yourself in the language digitally They say that the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in it. Well, since you can’t do that face-to-face for now, why not switch that film you’re watching to your chosen language?

2. Join online expat forums

If there’s one thing we can be sure of right now, it’s that everyone is in the same boat. Joining an online expat community can support you in the months ahead, and can help you connect with people in similar situations. 

Self isolation doesn’t have to stunt your move abroad. You can learn the ins and out of your new town or city through online expat communities: ask questions, connect with expats in your area-to-be, take a look at other people’s queries, and who knows you might even meet people going through the same thing. 

There are global expat websites which divide into area-specific communities. We recommend looking at these top three expat sites to get yourself started:

3. Crack on with the paperwork

We know that paperwork isn’t the most riveting of jobs, but it’s probably the most important aspect of your move. So, make the most of this opportunity to take your time on those all-important forms. 

Visas are tricky little things. Use this time to start familiarising yourself with the different visa options for your chosen country, and work out which apply to you. If you’re one of the lucky ones, your work will be able to sort a visa out for you. 

Each country’s list of visas vary, but there are some that most countries have in common:

  • Temporary visa
  • Student visa
  • Working visa
  • Family visa

You can also take this time to gather all the documents you’ll need to take with you. Each country requires different documents before it lets you cross its borders, but we’ve listed the basics below:

  • Passport 
  • Visa (if you’re moving for work, your employer might be able to help you with this)
  • Birth certificate
  • National Insurance Number
  • Biometrics card
  • Medical records
  • Driving licence
  • Qualifications for job/work permit
  • Social security cards

Once you’ve compiled all these documents, it’s a good idea to make copies. If you can’t do this from home right now, you can always leave that part for once the UK lockdown has finished. 

4. Finances

The world is collectively going through a strange financial time: mortgages are being frozen, wages are being paid by the government, and energy bills are even being paused in some countries. 

Before you make your move abroad, you might want to brush up on the latest news about whether your new country has been affected by these changes and whether they’ll be ongoing by the time you move. 

Of course, this is all very uncertain right now, so in the meantime, take a look at the main financial aspects you need to organise before you leave the country:

  • Bank accounts – If you don’t have any assets in the UK, such as property, it’s best for you to close your UK bank account. Before you get settled into your new home, you should also set up an international account. Many UK banks will offer these, so it shouldn’t be a stressful process.
  • Pensions – You can either leave your pension in the UK, or transfer it to an approved arrangement in your new country of residence. But before you move, you must inform your current pension holder.
  • Individual Savings Account (ISA) – You can keep your ISA open and still get UK tax relief on money and investments held in it. However, you cannot put money into it after the tax year following your move.
  • Expat taxes – Whether or not you have to pay expat taxes will depend on your own personal circumstances. You should test whether you’re liable for tax by completing the Statutory Residence Test.

5. Research the area

Ordinarily, we’d assume that you’re pretty clued up on your new country – but this is no ordinary situation. Depending on where you’re planning to move to, the coronavirus may have had a relatively minor impact on your home, or it may have turned the country upside down. 

We recommend that you do some research before your move to see whether schools, doctors, temporary accommodation, and even restaurants are carrying on as normal. 

If you’re planning on moving to Italy, for example, you may see new government rules or a higher cost of living, since the nation has been hit particularly hard.

If you’re moving with family, perhaps it’s also worth contacting your local schools to see if they have been impacted by closures. Keeping in-the-know in the run-up to your move will reduce the chance of any unpleasant surprises.

6. Sell the stuff you don’t need

Prioritising what you’d like to take with you on your adventure can be tricky but luckily, you’ve got some extra time on your hands. 

Although selling your belongings can seem like a colossal task, it will mean you don’t have to lug so many things abroad, whilst also reducing the shipping costs significantly. If you can’t pop to your local post office to send your belongings to a buyer, there are lots of websites that offer a ‘collection’ option, so you won’t have to leave your home. 

We’re not saying you need to throw away that family heirloom, but you might want to reconsider those dusty clothes that have been stuffed at the back of your cupboard. 

7. Keep on saving!

There’s no denying it: moving abroad can get expensive, and depending on where you’re planning to move to, the cost of living will vary. So why not use this slice of extra time to pull together a few more pennies?

If you’re able to work from home, you can probably put a large chunk of money aside before you eventually move abroad. However, we know that self-isolation is leading to lack of work for a lot of people. If you’re one of these people, fear not – you can still save for your move in other ways! 

 

  • Save money on eating out and commuting Though staying indoors 24/7 might be driving you up the wall, think of all the money you’ll be saving on commuting to and from work, and on takeaways!
  • Don’t waste food The phrase ‘waste not want not’ has never been more appropriate. If something looks like it’s about to go out of date, freeze it! Or, you can look into nifty ways to use surplus food.
  • Be smart with your energyYour energy bills are likely to increase whilst self-isolating. To prevent this, look into different ways to be more energy efficient at home and save money on your bills.
woman in an airport

A woman walking through the airport, on her way to her new home abroad

What next?

Life is surrounded by a fog of uncertainty during these times, but the fog will lift eventually and when it does, your move abroad will be back on track. 

Though this situation is certainly not ideal, and can be quite upsetting, digital technology can support you in the upcoming weeks. Rather than dwelling on how long your move will take, look at this opportunity as a helping hand, supporting you on your move abroad!