By Vicky Anscombe on 26 May 2016

Lots of Brits find the idea of moving to a foreign country incredibly exciting. The prospect of experiencing life in an exotic new place can be extremely tempting.

According to estimates from 2015, between 4.5 and 5.5 million UK citizens have moved abroad – that’s 7-8% of the country’s total population. To put that into perspective, only 0.8% of US citizens and 2.1% of Australians have chosen the expat lifestyle, which suggests that Brits have a serious case of wanderlust.

If you’d like to give it a go, there are a few things that you need to think about before you begin making your plans and putting them into action. That’s why we’ve decided to share four of the most important tips to make sure that your emigration is as smooth and as trouble-free as possible.

Greek house

Do your research

You will need to read up on local laws and customs, and you should also scour websites like Expat Forum for any nuggets of advice about relocating to the area.

If you have never been to the country you’d like to move to, you need to go on at least one scouting trip before you commit. You may discover a few things which could affect your decision, such as exchange rates, and availability at local schools. Always do your research!

On the other hand, if you don’t quite know where you’re headed, you may need to put in some extra effort to establish which country is best for you. Don’t be afraid to seek some local help - relocation agents in your chosen country can provide you with advice and guidance when choosing where to live.

Pin in map

Take your time when finding a property

You’ll probably be full of enthusiasm before your prospective move, but you should avoid jumping right in and snapping up the first property that you see. You might be totally enamoured with your new country, and unwilling to see any flaws - but remember that everywhere has its good and bad areas.

Don’t rule out renting while you find your feet. This will allow you to get settled and give you time to make an informed decision about where you want to put down roots permanently.

Looking to make renovations or start building your dream home from scratch? Make sure that you familiarise yourself with local planning permission regulations and be respectful of any red tape that you have to wade through. Finding a local solicitor you feel comfortable with can often help you avoid being stung with fines at a later date.

Woman by pool

Remember to take care of yourself

Emigrating across the globe can often be a taxing experience on your physical and financial health. Make sure that you have taken out travel insurance until you can get registered with the local state system. The NHS has lots of helpful advice – just check out their website for more information.

You also need to make sure that you are financially ready to take the step of moving abroad, as it could potentially be expensive, especially in the early days when you might not have any income. Before you leave, you need to find out how the local exchange rates and inflation will affect your income, pension, and benefits. You will have to assess these before you will be able to calculate your cost of living.

Don’t forget that you must inform HMRC if you are leaving the country permanently or for the duration of at least one tax year ; you will need to fill in several forms, which you can find on HMRC’s website. You will also need to notify your GP, Social Security, and the Department of Work and Pensions.

You can reduce the stress of the moving process by using a company like Pickfords, who specialise in international relocation.

Write letter

Embrace your new community

A huge part of moving to a foreign country is becoming part of the local community and culture. Obviously, moving to Canada or the USA will not be as dramatic as moving to Thailand or China, but each present their own unique challenges.

Moving to a country where English is not widely spoken can be intimidating at first, but with a little effort on your part, and a lot of pointing and gesturing, you will get by. Learn as much of the local language as you can before your arrival. Finding a language teacher or class should be a priority, and it’s a great way to meet fellow expats getting to grips with the lingo.

Making new friends can also be a challenge, but you can explore clubs and activities to find likeminded people. If there is a sport that you like, why not try out for the local team or participate in some meet ups. Finally, remember to be respectful of any local customs – if in doubt, always ask.

← A beginner’s guide to Spanish culture

Barcelona guide for Brits who want to live like locals →