Tips for Moving to Europe
Here is your moving to Europe checklist. If you are thinking about moving to Europe, this is a useful guide of things to know before moving to Europe.
As an expat who has lived abroad for more than 20 years, I wish I had read such an informative guide before moving.
Learn what to buy before moving to Europe and how to organise your finances. Whether you are moving to Europe, working in Europe, living in Europe or retiring to Europe, this guide should help you organise that move.
- Booking Flights – Use Skyscanner for cheap flights.
- Tell the Tax Authorities You Are Leaving – there are often forms you need to fill out to tell the authorities that you are no longer tax resident in your home country. You no longer need to pay tax on your savings accounts for example as a non-resident. You might also want to keep contributing to National Insurance or your social security payments. If so, you need to sign some forms to continue paying by direct debit.
- Keep a Stash of Cash for Emergencies – sometimes banks can lock your debit cards or credit cards when abroad for fraud prevention. Always have a stash of EUR in your room just in case this happens. Also, if you have multiple accounts, this will be less painful if an ATM accidentally swallows your card or your wallet gets lost or stolen.
- Get the Emergency Bank & Credit Card Phone Numbers from Your Bank
- Set Up a Local Bank Account – if you are moving to Europe, you will need to set up a local bank account in EUR. Do the research to find the best deals and then contact that bank. This will save you money as otherwise you get hit with ATM charges of up to 3% and currency exchange charges of up to 3% every time you take money out of a hole in the wall. You may also need to set up a corporate account as well for your business. Try to pick a bank and branch office near where you work rather than near where you live. This way you can slip over on your lunch break should you need to take care of an urgent matter.
- Set Up a Currency Transfer Specialist – set up an account with Transferwise or other currency specialist. They will be the middle man between your bank account in your home country and your new bank in Europe. This will cut the fees for transferring money.
- Sort Out Your Current Pension – what will you do with your current pension plan? If you are moving from the UK to Europe, you can transfer your UK pension to a QROPS in Malta, which is an English speaking EU country. This will get your pension out of the UK tax net and there will be no tax on growth and death. You can also transfer your pension into EUR if you choose. You may wish to do this before Brexit to avoid any possible exit taxes. You can also move Dutch and Irish pensions to Malta. Usually American, Canadian and South African pensions can’t be moved. Australian pensions and NZ Kiwisaver pensions can be moved to Europe after you have been resident 12 months abroad, although it often isn’t advantageous until you have reached retirement age and you are permanently moving to Europe. You might be able to cash in an Australian Super & NZ Kiwisaver pensions and move them to a Malta pension plan after you have reached retirement age.
- Set Up a New Pension Scheme – speak to your new employer about setting up a pension plan for you or you can set up a European Union Retirement Benefits Scheme if they won’t set one up for you.
- Decide What to Do with Your Current Residence – are you going to rent it out or sell it?
- Speak with a Financial Adviser – you are going to need new advice as you may have to move some of your investments around for tax & currency planning purposes. You can contact an adviser here.
- Set Up a Direct Debit to Pay Off Your Credit Card – this is one of the smartest things I have ever done. If you don’t have a credit card, apply for one. You will need it to book international flights and for other purchases online which may not accept debit cards. The Barclaycard Platinum travel card has no fees on spending or cash withdrawals overseas till August 2022. Halifax has no fees on spending or cash withdrawals either. Santander Zero has no fees on credit card purchases. You can read UK credit card comparisons here. Capital One in the U.S. has a good reputation. You can read about the best credit cards in the USA here.
- Unlock Your Mobile Phone – some providers lock you into their network. You will need to unlock your phone to use a foreign SIM card. It may also be an idea to root your phone. This is really useful if you want to save codes from Google Authenticator which you often need for 2-factor authorisation log-ins.
- Get a Local SIM Card – search the internet for the best mobile phone plan deals in your new country of residence.
- Apply for a Visa – especially if you are coming from the UK after Brexit or coming from non-EU countries such as Australia, USA, Canada, New Zealand or South Africa. Look at what documents you need from the consulate in your country of destination when moving to Europe.
- Store Your Belongings – what are you going to do with all your stuff at home? If you can’ store at a friend or family’s house, you can rent a monthly unit in your home town. If you are moving all your belongings to Europe, choose a reliable removals service.
- Organise Your Health Insurance – you will need to purchase health insurance when you leave home. Contact a financial adviser to get the best deal on health insurance in Europe.
- Organise Your Life Insurance – if you are young and have a family, you will need to get life insurance in Europe to cover your mortgage and getting your kids through university as well as giving your spouse an income in case anything happens to you. Your life insurance back home may not cover you abroad, so contact your insurance company to check.
- Have a Medical Check Up Before You Leave – make sure you are up to date with jabs, get a medical and any last trips to the dentist, whilst everything can still be explained in your own language with your own doctors & dentists.
- Update Your Driver’s Licence – also, apply for an international driver’s licence, so you can drive abroad.
- Renew Any Bank Cards – make sure that your current bank card isn’t going to expire whilst abroad.
- Get a Postal Forwarding Address in Your Home Country – you will need this for your banks in your home country and for updated bank cards to be sent out. This can then automatically be forwarded to your new address in Europe
- Get a Worldwide SIM or Keep Your Phone Contract – you can purchase a SIM which will forward all your phone calls to your new phone number in Europe and which you can top up online easily.
- Think About Getting a Power of Attorney – This could be a family member or a lawyer. They can then have control over your account to pay outstanding bills, pay for outstanding insurance etc, in your home country.
- Update Your Will – you will need to update your will to include all your new financial arrangements. This is as good a time as any to set one up if you haven’t done it yet.
- Set Up a Living Will – also known as an Advance Medical Directive. This is crucial and something everyone should have. Basically, this document lets your hospital know how you should be treated for end-of-life medical care, in case you become unable to communicate your decisions.
- Install Skype on Your Mobile – you can set up a “pay as you go” or monthly plan for cheaper international phone calls. You can even purchase a local phone number in countries around Europe.
- Buy an International Adapter – Europe runs on 220 Vaults and plug type C/F. Australia runs on 230 V, but has plug type I, USA & Canada runs on 120V, whilst the UK has plug type G. Click here to see the here the complete vaultage and plug type list by country
- Bring a Gift from Home – offer this to your new employers or new friends. Maybe some football shirts, caps or other British memorabilia. It will ingratiate yourself to your new country.
- Learn the Language – Rome wasn’t built in a day, but download the language apps and Google Translate for your new home in Europe. Google translate now has a new option where you instantly translate menus. Go to Google Translate, then click the menu button in the top left corner, now put the camera over a menu and boom! It is now in English. You’re welcome.
- Join Internations – you can join expat meet-ups for when the new language becomes too much and you just want to speak to a fellow expat from home.
- Get Your TV from Home Online – this can be a god send, when local TV is either in a foreign language or has bad TV. You can access UK TV at CatchupTV and Skycards EU. You might also want to subscribe to Netflix for movies and series. You may need to set up a VPN to watch TV at home using your current subscriptions.
- Find a Local Lawyer – you will probably need them at some point to certify documents and other matters for your business
- Set Up a European Company – if you are self-employed, you will need a local company
- Speak to a Tax Attorney – you will need to speak to a local tax attorney and a financial adviser to find out how you can best mitigate tax.
- Research Your New Area – check out Google maps and speak to local real estate agents to find out where is the best to stay. You may also need to research local international schools and where the local supermarket is. Get familiar with local transportation. See if there is any deals on bus & train cards.
- Rent an Apartment – check out Airbnb.com for apartments or Google “apartments” in the city or town where you wish to move to in Europe.
- Print Some Photos of Your Friends & Family – get this done before you go, so you don’t have to explain it all in a foreign language.
- Keep Copies of Your ID in the Cloud – keep copies of your passport, lease agreement, insurance documents, airline tickets, bank statements, birth certificate, bank certificate, qualifications, company documents, etc, in the cloud where you can get to them quickly in an emergency. Also useful for bouncers, lol!
I’ve lived as an expat overseas for over 20 years and use a financial consulting company regulated in Europe. Please click here to contact a financial adviser to formulate a plan.