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Embarking on moving abroad can feel like charting unknown territories. Cut through the uncertainty with this no-nonsense guide, offering actionable advice on transferring your life to a new country.

Learn how to choose your ideal destination, navigate visas and logistics, and settle into a new culture seamlessly.

Get ready for essential insights that will turn your international move from daunting to doable.

Key takeaways

  • Portugal and Cyprus are standout destinations for moving abroad due to their unique blend of affordability, lifestyle, and warm climates, with Portugal offering 37% lower living costs.
  • Essential preparations for an international move include understanding visa requirements, managing finances, and selecting reputable international movers to ensure a seamless transition.
  • Expats should embrace local customs and culture for smooth integration, familiarise themselves with local laws and regulations to avoid legal issues, and manage health care considerations by registering or ensuring adequate insurance coverage.

Choosing the right destination: Portugal or Cyprus

Beautiful coastal view of Portugal and Cyprus

Just a few examples of popular EU destinations when considering a trip abroad, includes:

  • Portugal
  • Cyprus
  • Spain
  • Italy
  • Greece
  • Germany
  • Ireland
  • France

However, Portugal and Cyprus stand out among these, offering a unique blend of affordability, lifestyle, and culture. Portugal, known for its warm climate, safe environment, and laid-back lifestyle, offers a cost of living approximately 37% lower than in the UK.

Meanwhile, Cyprus, with its Mediterranean charm and low cost of living, has also emerged as a preferred destination. We will now examine these paradises in detail to appreciate what they bring to the table.

Portugal: a cost-effective paradise

Imagine waking up to the sound of waves crashing on the beach, spending your days surfing in the Atlantic, or exploring scenic locations like the Serra da Estrela mountain range. This is what life in Portugal can offer. Besides, moving to this beautiful country can save Britons over £500 a month, making it a cost-effective destination for those seeking to lower their living costs.

Portugal’s wide array of leisure activities coupled with significant cost savings indeed make it a cost-effective paradise.

Cyprus: Mediterranean living at its finest

On the other hand, Cyprus, one of the safest European countries, presents a unique blend of affordability and Mediterranean charm. The country offers:

  • Low cost of living compared to other European countries
  • Affordable housing options
  • English widely spoken, easing cultural integration for expats
  • Welcoming and well-educated nature of the Cypriots

Given its European Union membership, Cyprus facilitates expat living through familiar financial transactions using the Euro. All these advantages make Cyprus a prime example of Mediterranean living.

Preparing for your move: essential steps

Preparing documents for international move

Once you’ve decided on your destination, it’s time to start preparing for the move. A moving abroad checklist primarily includes understanding your destination’s visa requirements, managing your finances, and organising important documents. It might seem overwhelming at first, but don’t worry! We aim to guide you through these vital steps, which include visa application, financial management, and a smooth transition to your new home.

Visa requirements and application process

The first step to planning your move abroad is to check your destination’s visa requirements and immigration options, especially if you’re considering a job abroad. It’s essential to understand the process of becoming a resident in your new country. This includes gathering all necessary documentation, such as financial records and proof of accommodation, and starting the application well in advance due to the potential length of the process.

Bear in mind that a valid passport is required for visa application, so make sure yours is current.

Managing finances and budgeting

Prudent financial management is pivotal when relocating overseas. Make sure to evaluate the living cost in your destination country and ascertain that your finances can cover these expenses. It’s advisable to use a spending tracking app linked to your bank account to better understand and manage your funds before and after the move.

Also, don’t forget to inform your UK bank about your move abroad to avoid any issues with accessing your UK bank account or potential closure.

Settling in: adapting to your new country

Immersing in local culture after moving abroad

Once you’ve made the move, the next big step is to adapt to your new surroundings. This includes understanding the local culture, learning the language, and familiarising yourself with local laws and regulations. Remember, the key to successful integration is to embrace the local customs and culture while respecting the local laws.

We will now delve into this aspect more comprehensively.

Embracing Local Customs and Culture

Understanding and embracing local customs, traditions, and etiquette is crucial for smooth cultural integration and showing respect for your new community. This includes observing how locals interact, understanding societal norms, and partaking in traditional activities.

Adopting local cuisine, becoming part of interest-based clubs or groups, and perhaps hosting a dinner or cultural event to share your culture with local friends can enhance your transition to your new home, making it smoother and more enjoyable.

Navigating Local Laws and Regulations

While immersing yourself in the local culture, it is equally important to become familiar with local laws and regulations governed by the local authority. This includes:

  • Understanding residential laws
  • Being aware of the implications of using multiple currencies
  • Adhering to local regulations on product standards, tax laws, and administrative requirements
  • Understanding border regulations in areas with complex political divisions, like Cyprus

This will help avoid any legal complications when out and about.

Also, remember that customs authorities regulate the flow of goods across borders, so anticipate potential duties when moving belongings internationally.

Healthcare and insurance considerations

International health insurance for expats

Healthcare and insurance are another crucial aspect to consider when moving abroad. Eligibility for medical care for UK citizens within Europe is generally the same as for local citizens due to special agreements between countries. However, in the absence of such agreements, you may need to arrange for private health coverage.

We’ll now examine in detail how you can access healthcare services overseas and understand international health insurance policies.

Accessing healthcare services abroad

As a UK expat, you should:

  • Register with the relevant local authorities to access public healthcare services
  • If you contribute to social security, you can access state-run healthcare on the same terms as local citizens
  • If you’re not employed, you may need to enrol in a national health insurance scheme or pay patient contributions to access healthcare.

It’s important to sort out these medical requirements in advance to ensure you’re eligible for medical care upon arrival in your new country.

International health insurance policies

International health insurance provides coverage for both emergency and routine healthcare for individuals living or working overseas for an extended period. When choosing an international health insurance plan, consider the following:

  • Your healthcare and travel requirements, as this can potentially lower your insurance premium
  • Ensure that your insurance covers all the countries you intend to visit
  • Be aware of any policy exclusions and the conditions for reimbursement

Renting or buying property abroad

Exploring real estate options in destination country

Securing a home is likely one of the most thrilling aspects of relocating. Evaluating your personal circumstances and understanding the local housing market conditions are crucial to decide whether to rent or purchase a property.

Whether you’re considering renting a cozy apartment in the heart of Lisbon or buying a beautiful villa overlooking the Mediterranean Sea in Cyprus, we’ve got you covered.

Renting property: tips and expectations

If you’re considering renting a property, knowing the local market and setting realistic expectations are key. Paphos, for instance, offers particularly affordable housing options in the post-pandemic real estate market. Working with local estate agents can provide valuable insights and help you navigate the local housing market.

Purchasing property: making a smart investment

For those considering buying property, research is critical. Property prices can vary widely, with countries like Cyprus offering significantly lower prices than in the UK, potentially presenting valuable investment opportunities. It’s also important to understand the tax implications of buying property abroad, as you might be subject to Stamp Duty for owning additional properties and Capital Gains Tax.

Consider the purpose of buying the property, whether for:

  • relocation
  • owning a holiday home
  • starting a rental business
  • making an investment

Ensure this aligns with your long-term goals and consider EU stay duration limits under Schengen visa rules for non-residents.

Moving your belongings and pets

Moving abroad isn’t just about you; it’s also about your belongings and your beloved pets. While moving with only a few suitcases is the most hassle-free option, you might need to ship larger quantities of possessions abroad and handle customs regulations. And if you’re planning to bring your pets along, it’s essential to understand the requirements and preparations needed for relocating with them.

Shipping possessions: costs and customs

Shipping belongings abroad involves costs and customs that you need to anticipate. The cost depends on factors such as:

  • Transportation type
  • Volume of goods
  • Distance
  • Destination port
  • Seasonal demand

Professional packing services for international moves typically start around £200 for half a 20ft container, and costs may rise with increased cargo volumes.

Customs clearance necessitates documents like an itemised list, specific forms, and personal identification, which can include a passport, visa, or work permit. Some countries may require the owner’s presence during customs processing, or alternatively, collection by someone else with appropriate authorisation. Also, be aware that customs duties can vary significantly, reflecting the commercial value of goods, with varying country-specific thresholds for certain customs entries.

Relocating with pets: requirements and preparation

Relocating with pets requires careful planning. Here are some steps to follow:

  1. Research the pet import laws of the destination country as some have strict rules, might not allow certain animals, specific breeds, or may have quarantine requirements.
  2. Ensure that your pet has a travel passport and meets all entry requirements, including having a health certificate.
  3. Prepare your pet for travel by making sure they are comfortable in a carrier and have all necessary supplies.

By following these steps, you can ensure a smooth and safe relocation for your pet.

Consult with your veterinarian to address concerns regarding your pet’s ability to handle a long flight, and to prepare for travel with health certificates and any necessary medications. Acclimating your pet to their travel crate early on can ease stress during the journey. Also, inquire with airlines about pet travel options and guidelines, including arrangements for in-cabin or cargo travel and handling layovers.

The cost to move a cat abroad typically ranges between £250 and £500, and for dogs, it can range from £300 to over £1,500, depending on various factors.

Staying connected to home: finances, taxes, and voting rights

Living abroad doesn’t mean you lose all connections to your home country, even when retiring abroad. In fact, UK expats may still have financial and tax obligations back home, and they can even exercise their voting rights in UK general elections.

We will now scrutinise how to manage UK bank accounts and investments, navigate tax obligations, and exercise voting rights as an expat.

Managing UK bank accounts and investments

Managing your UK bank accounts and investments while living abroad can be challenging but not impossible. You need to decide whether to keep your UK bank accounts open or opt for a local bank account, based on whether there are ongoing transactions in the UK or a potential return to the UK.

You can also open an international bank account to manage currency fluctuations and transaction fees, and hold money in multiple currencies when planning to retire abroad. And don’t forget to research your existing investments and pension contributions to decide where to hold them and how to continue making pension contributions from abroad.

Navigating tax obligations

Navigating tax obligations while living abroad can be complex. Here are some steps to help you manage your tax responsibilities:

  1. Inform your local tax authority of your intention to move and fill out a P85 form to declare your departure from the UK, including relevant parts of your P45 form, to manage potential tax benefits.
  2. Use the Statutory Residence Test to determine your UK tax residency status and understand your obligations.
  3. Consult a qualified tax specialist from RHJ Accountants to ensure compliance with UK and new country tax regulations.
  4. Complete a tax return if required for income or gains in the UK.

If there is a double-tax agreement between the UK and your destination country, this can prevent you from being taxed twice on the same income. You can apply for tax relief if taxed in both countries. It’s also important to maximise tax efficiency on property and assets by determining potential capital gains tax obligations and understanding how to leverage schemes like the Non-Habitual Residence status in Portugal.

Luckily, both Cyprus & Portugal have a double tax treaty with the UK, which can provide tax relief on income earned in these countries.

It’s important to note that residency for tax purposes is different from residency for immigration purposes. Just because you have a residence permit in a country does not necessarily mean you are considered a resident for tax purposes.

Corporate tax possibilities

Numerous clients opt to move overseas to benefit from reduced corporate tax rates. They have established thriving businesses in the UK but are burdened by high corporate tax rates.

Choose between Cyprus with a corporate tax rate of 12.5% or the Portuguese islands with a 5% tax rate. Additionally, we can assist in exploring non-EU countries like the UAE or consider Malta as another potential EU option.

Our teams can discuss the potential in a complimentary initial meeting. We offer assistance with relocation needs, company setup, and all ongoing accountancy tasks, catering to both individuals and businesses.

Exercising voting rights as an expat

Did you know that as a UK expat, you can still exercise your voting rights? Expatriates from the UK who have lived overseas for over 15 years are now able to participate in UK general elections by regaining their voting rights. You can register to vote as long as you are a British or eligible Irish citizen, and you have registered within the last 15 years. Once registered, your overseas voter registration in the UK lasts for 3 years, and you will receive reminders to renew it.


In conclusion, moving abroad is a significant decision that requires careful planning and preparation. From choosing the right destination and understanding visa requirements to managing finances, accessing healthcare services, and navigating local laws and customs, each step is crucial to ensuring a smooth transition. But with this comprehensive guide, we hope to have made the journey a little less daunting and a lot more exciting.

Arrange an initial discussion with our team to receive a tailored, in-depth guide that aligns with your specific situation.

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