Survial Books Logo

Welcome to Guides for Living, Working, Retiring, & Buying Property Abroad

Viewing category "Living Abroad"

Living Abroad

Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

If you’re planning to live abroad, whether permanently or for part of the year only, you must ensure that it will be possible (legally) and that you will be able to afford it before making any plans. Note that if you don't qualify to live in a country by birthright or as a national of a country that's a member of a treaty such as the European Union (EU), it may be impossible to obtain a residence permit.

Do You Need a Permit or Visa?

Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

Before making any plans to live abroad, you must ensure that you will be permitted to freely enter and leave a country, live there as long as you wish and become a resident, and do anything else you have in mind, such as work as self-employed, start a business or buy a home. For example, a national of a European Union (EU) country can live and work in any other EU country, although there's no automatic right to a residence permit and retirees must meet minimum income levels. Similarly, unless you're a citizen of Canada or the USA, you won't be permitted to live in North America for longer than three months a year without an appropriate permit or visa.

            If there's a possibility that you or any family member may wish to live abroad permanently, you should enquire whether it will be possible before making any plans. In some countries...

Keeping in Touch

Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

The availability quality and cost of local services such as mail and telephone (including mobile phones and the Internet/e-mail/broadband) may be an important consideration when planning to live abroad, particularly if you wish to keep in close touch with family and friends or business associates. The range of services and the reliability and speed of mail deliveries varies considerably depending on the country. In some countries airmail letters can take weeks to be delivered, even to neighbouring countries, and thousands of items of mail go astray each year. Nowadays it's possible to set up what's called a 'portable office' whereby you postal, telephone, fax and e-mail addresses are 'transparent' and can be taken with you wherever you live. 

            Further information is available in our Living and Working series of books.

Getting There & Around

Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

Although it isn't so important if you're moving to a neighbouring country within a reasonable driving or flying distance of your family and friends, one of the major considerations when living abroad is often transport links (road, rail, air and sea links) with your home country. How long will it take to get there, e.g. by air, taking into account journeys to and from airports? Is it possible to drive? One of the main advantages of being able to drive is that you can take much more luggage with you and the cost for a family may be significantly lower than flying. Could you travel by bus, train or ferry? What does it cost? How frequent are buses, flights, trains or ferries at the time(s) of year when you plan to travel. Is it feasible to travel home for a long weekend, given the cost and travelling time involved.



Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

If you're wedded to your car (or at least to having your own transport), you probably wouldn't consider living somewhere where you cannot get around independently. Having your own transport will also allow you a much wider choice of where you can live. However, if isn't always necessary to own a car and many people use taxis for local trips and rent a car for longer journeys. 

            Note that women aren't permitted to drive in Saudi Arabia and some other countries don't allow any visitors to drive, while others have special requirements.

            Bear in mind that driving is a nerve?wracking and even dangerous experience in many countries, and most people are more accident?prone when driving abroad. Driving in cities is often totally chaotic at the best of times, particularly when traffic drives on a different side of the road from that in your home country. A car can be a...


Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

One of the most important aspects of living abroad (or anywhere for that matter) is maintaining good health. The quality of health care and health care facilities vary considerably from country to country, although most western countries provide good to excellent health care for those who can afford to pay for private treatment. However, there's a stark contrast between public and private health facilities in many countries, even western countries, some of which have severely over-stretched and under?funded public health services.

            The provision of fully-equipped hospitals is rare in many countries (in some countries there's only one major general hospital in the capital city), and nursing care and post?hospital assistance are well below what most westerners take for granted. Health facilities in remote areas, even in developed countries, are often inadequate, and if you have a serious accident or need emergency hospital treatment in some countries, you will need to...


Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

Another important consideration when living abroad (even for brief periods) is finance, which includes everything from transferring and changing money to banking, mortgages and local taxes. If you're planning to invest in a property or business abroad financed with funds imported from another country, it's important to consider both the present and possible future exchange rates (don't be too optimistic!). On the other hand, if you live and work abroad and earn your income in the local currency, this may affect your financial commitments abroad (particularly if the local currency is devalued). Bear in mind that your income can be exposed to risks beyond your control when you live abroad, particularly regarding inflation and exchange rate fluctuations. 

            It's important to obtain expert financial advice before going to live abroad from an independent and impartial source, i.e. NOT someone who's trying to sell you anything else! 

            If you plan...


Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

Before planning to live or work abroad, it's advisable to investigate the local taxes, particularly income tax, social security and other taxes incurred by residents. If you plan to buy a home abroad, you may also need to take into account property taxes (rates), capital gains tax, wealth tax and inheritance tax. For many people, moving abroad is an opportunity to reduce their overall taxes, particularly when moving from a high to a low?tax country, when the timing of a move can be decisive. Some countries encourage foreigners (e.g. retirees) to take up residence by offering tax incentives and many countries provide tax incentives for foreigners employed for a limited period by a foreign company. 


            An important aspect of living abroad is insurance, including health, travel, home contents and third party liability insurance. In many countries, the government and local law provide for various obligatory state and employer insurance schemes. These...

Cost of living

Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

No doubt you would like to estimate how far your money will stretch abroad and how much you will have left after paying your bills. The cost of living has risen considerably in most countries in the last decade or so, and some countries that previously enjoyed a relatively low cost of living are no longer quite so attractive, particularly for retirees. On the other hand, foreigners whose income is paid in 'hard' currencies, such as those of most northern European countries and North America, have seen their incomes rise sharply in international terms in recent years. At the same time, the difference in the cost of living between 'rich' (e.g. North American and northern European) countries and 'poor' countries has widened in real terms in favour of the richer countries.

            If you spend only a few weeks abroad each year, you won't be too concerned about the local cost...


Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

The quality and variety of schools in a particular country or region is an important consideration for families with school-age children. Education standards vary considerably from country to country and even from school to school. There are good private and international (usually English-language) schools in most of the world's major cities, particularly in western countries, although the standard of state-funded education may leave something to be desired, particularly in run-down neighbourhoods. Education is compulsory in many countries between the ages of around 5 and 16, although students are often encouraged to remain at school until the age of 18 and go on to university.

            State education (from nursery to secondary school) is usually free, although parents may be required to pay for certain items such as text books, writing materials, art supplies, musical instruments and sports equipment. Many schools have a school uniform, which may be compulsory (particularly in private...

Culture Shock

Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

'Culture shock' is the term used to describe the psychological and physical state felt by people when they relocate abroad to an 'alien' environment (moving from the USA to Canada or from the UK to Ireland doesn't count!). Although many people living abroad are single, experiencing life overseas before they settle down permanently in their home countries, they also include many families, who usually relocate because of the husband's profession or career (although today it could equally be the wife's career that prompts a move abroad). The implications are far-reaching, particularly for family members who may be reluctant to leave their 'home'.

            Non-working spouses and teenage children are usually the most affected, simply because they rarely have any choice about a relocation and therefore feel the most resentment when they find themselves in a situation in which they have little control or any familiar references. These two groups may also feel more...


Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

The crime rate varies considerably from country to country and it's important to investigate the level in a particular country, region or city before deciding where to live. Most western European, Middle Eastern, Asian and Australasian countries are very safe places to live and Canada also has relatively little serious crime. However, the crime rate in the USA varies considerably from state to state and city to city, and can be high. Many Central and South American and African countries can be extremely dangerous places in which to live and precautions may need to taken at all times. Major cities have the highest crime rates, some areas of which are best avoided at almost any time of the day or night. Many cities are notorious for 'petty' crime such as handbag snatching, pickpockets and thefts of (and from) vehicles. In contrast, crime in villages and rural areas (away from tourist areas)...


Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

If you plan to take a pet abroad, it's important to check the latest regulations. Make sure that you have the correct papers, not only for your country of destination, but for all the countries you will pass through to reach it, e.g. when travelling overland. Particular consideration must be given before exporting a pet from a country with strict quarantine regulations, such as the UK. If you need to return prematurely, even after a few hours or days abroad, your pet may need to go into quarantine.

            Some countries (e.g. Australia and Britain) operate a quarantine period, which may be in the owner's own home, and some (such as Britain and Sweden) have a pet's passport scheme. Most countries require pets to have a health certificate issued by an approved veterinary surgeon and vaccination certificates for rabies and possibly other diseases. A rabies vaccination must usually be given not less...


Posted on: 16th Jan 2015

It's important to be aware of anything that's happening in a country where you're planning to live or work that could affect your personal safety, such as wars, riots, military coups, terrorism, kidnappings and general civil unrest, to name but a few. You also need to be aware of crime and drugs, health, women's issues, motoring problems, and how to deal with local officials and matters such as bribery and corruption, which is a way of life in some countries. If you have any problems concerning safety while abroad, you should contact your local consulate or embassy for advice. If you register with your local embassy they will contact you in times of serious civil unrest or wars and may assist you in returning home (if necessary) 

            Further information is available in our Living and Working series of books.