This summer we will have been in our home in Sussex for two and a half years and for this family that’s quite a big deal. In the four years of married life before that, we’d managed five houses in four countries staying in each place for between a few weeks and a couple of years. Constantly moving around is stimulating and exciting, but it also has lots of unwanted side effects many of which I’m only just starting to fully appreciate. If you are one of the many Brits considering moving abroad for a period of time, here are some problems you might encounter and suggestions for how to combat them.
(1) There might be hidden problems for your pets
The UK has surprisingly few hazards for pets, but once you take them abroad you will start worrying about things you never considered before. Frostbite, heatstroke, processionary caterpillars, poison left out by the locals and (if your dogs are small enough) birds of prey! Vet care in the UK is also exceptionally good and not always matched to the same high standard in other countries. It’s really worth doing some research before you move to learn what you need to watch out for. We found expat forums online were invaluable sources of information that helped us be prepared and make sure your pets insurance allows for travel and living overseas too.
(2) People will buy you bulky gifts that you can’t get in your suitcase
Of course it is always lovely to receive gifts from friends and family and none of us wish to seem ungrateful, but it seems that unless they have lived abroad themselves, most people won’t give much consideration to how the things they give you in the UK will make their onward journey. When we lived overseas, one Christmas we received several very solid hardback recipe books (actually more “volumes” than “books”) as well as a bottle of gin and a large china bowl. If you want to dodge having the actual conversation about bulky presents, we found that the next best solution was to travel light, buy expanding bags and always travel with luggage scales so you can pack right up to the maximum weight without worrying about paying extra at the airport.
(3) Your credit rating can be damaged
You might think that your credit rating could only be damaged if you do something “wrong” with your borrowing, but by moving around, having an address abroad, removing yourself from the electoral roll or simply not having any form of unsecured debt you can be seen as a risk to lenders. The advice for forces personnel was always to register to vote at a UK address in order to keep yourself in the system and if possible to tell your bank to keep your home address as the official one on their system and just use your overseas address for correspondence. It’s also sensible to check your credit report ( you can do this via CreditExpert: credit check) to make sure it’s up to date and there are no errors on file.
(4) It’s not just British food you’ll miss
Everyone expects that by living abroad you’ll miss the foods from your home country, but the flip side is that you’ll end up developing a taste for another countries delicacies which you’ll then miss in addition to British cuisine when you move on to another location. Fortunately the Internet is your saviour, not only are there lots of online shops dedicated to selling food from other countries, but if all else fails you can make them yourselves. I really miss Boston Cream donuts from Tim Hortons in Canada, but some cunning person has worked out how to reproduce them in your own kitchen!
(5) You could lose your no claims bonus
The no claims you build up for car insurance in one country might not necessarily transfer to the next one you move to, which can be an expensive and frustrating mistake. We always did quite a lot of research talking to other expats before we took a policy out and only tripped up once. Again the best advice is to use forums online, ask insurance companies before you buy and take out policies with companies that are part of larger international firms.