Emigrating abroad to work remotely is a dream shared by many, but there are more than a few mistakes that can help to slip you up on your journey to realising that dream. From my own personal experience and that of a number of other remote workers I have met over the years, here are some of the top mistakes that many of us – including yours truly – have made when escaping overseas.
Budgeting is one of those things that tends to get forgotten in the excitement of moving overseas to work, and even when you do make a budget it often fails to take account of key aspects of living abroad. To make a budget effectively – and avoid nasty surprises when you arrive – make sure that you carry out some in-depth research on your new destination well in advance.
Find you about the cost of living from expats who already live there. Find out about inflation and how much you can expect to be spending over the coming months, about rates for rented accommodation and all of the other fees that come with it, about accountant fees and administrative fees for sorting out your taxes.
Fail to take all of these into account before you make the move, and you could find that you have under-budgeted considerably.
Preparing for the worst is probably the last thing on your mind when you move abroad, but you need to have some plan of action in mind in case things don’t all go smoothly. For example, what if your laptop breaks or is stolen during your first week? Have you got a backup of all your work and software, as well as some spare funds to buy a new one? What about if you fall ill? Have you got adequate health insurance?
Make a list of all of the things that could go wrong and have a contingency plan in place. This could involve taking a few credit cards with you that you only plan to use in emergencies, which you can then chop up on your return.
Forgetting to Inform HMRC
This only matters if you are going to be emigrating for a longer period. If so, it is essential that you let the tax authorities (HMRC in the UK) know what your plans are. If you forget to do this, you could end up paying more in tax than you should be. You don’t want to be paying taxes in both countries, after all.
Trying to Work Out the Tax System Alone
There is no better way to give yourself a headache than to try to work your way around a new tax system that you are completely unfamiliar with. If you plan to get onto the new system, do yourself a favour and hire an accountant who knows it. The money you spend will be well worthwhile, and you will not find yourself constantly stressed about making costly mistakes that could even lead to fines.
Not Meeting Other Expats
Other expats are an invaluable source of information when you arrive in a new country. If you move to a large town or city there will almost certainly be an expat community present, and they can provide you with up-to-date advice on accommodation, taxes, work practices, business, the political situation, entertainment options, travel, visas and lots more.
Failing to Learn the Basics of the Language
If you are travelling to a non-English-speaking country, do yourself a favour and learn at least the basics of the language. Start a few months before you plan to leave, and just get to a stage where you can hold a basic conversation, which will not take long. Turning up somewhere and hoping you will find people speaking English is not a great tactic, and it can be awfully stressful when you first arrive if you have no idea what everyone is saying.
Not Preparing for Remote Work
Just because you like the idea of working abroad, before you pack up and leave it is a very good idea to experiment with remote working before you go away. Try working from home for a few weeks or months and iron out any problems early on – it is a lot easier to do so in familiar surroundings than from the other side of the world.
Avoid These Classic Mistakes
These are all common mistakes that are quite simple to avoid, and being aware of them can help to make your time working abroad much more enjoyable. Keep them in mind when you start planning your trip overseas and enjoy a smoother transition to your new life abroad.