Does moving overseas really need to be that stressful?

splashThere are an increasing number of opportunities for financial professionals abroad, but many people are unaware of the possibilities or are reluctant to take the leap.

The thought of heading off on a week’s holiday for some people can be a nightmare: packing, paperwork, checking weather and even the journey can be daunting for some. Imagine relocating to the other side of the world, for at least two years with two kids in tow and a lifetime’s worth of possessions. The prospect of such upheaval can seem very stressful. But with the right planning, preparation and guidance, it doesn’t need to be.

The most common areas of concern are invariably: family, visa issues, accommodation and travel.

Family objections need to be addressed and resolved at the outset. Each country is different, with its own restrictions on family size and spousal visas: for example, Bermuda restricts its expatriates to having no more than three children on the island. But, on a positive note, some also offer attractive family benefits. Maternity leave in the Netherlands is regarded as one of the most generous in the world. Germany offers tax reductions to families, as well as tax incentives on education material for schooling.

Before you go, you need to make some practical decisions regarding accommodation. Most people tend to rent their current property for the duration of their time away. As to accommodation in your new country, employers will usually pay for an initial period – typically from between two weeks and two months ­ in a hotel before you are expected to find and rent a house or apartment. Before departure, it is wise to register with local leasing agents and it is best, of course, not to sign the lease on a property without first viewing it. One of the most helpful parts of my role is to connect a candidate with people whom I placed previously in the same location.

What personal items do you take with you and what do you really need? Larger items such as furniture and cars often need to be left behind. But, depending on the type and length of opportunity, shipping can be arranged easily, even for family pets.

Many popular locations abroad can be remote. In a recent call with an audit partner in the Caribbean, he said: “International food delivery to the island supermarkets is not very regular, so many items stock out quickly. Similarly, there are no department stores, so we all either order clothes online from the US or stock up when visiting the US. T-shirts and swimwear are, of course, readily available on the island.”

I have helped hundreds of people with an overseas move, and I always advise taking a supply of your preference in personal goods.

Finally, don’t forget about the small stuff: local currency (if required), personal valuables, essential electrics with conversion plugs – and a suit for your first day at work.

Go with your gut. And, if you decide to move, make a plan, prioritise and take out all the non-essentials – make life easier for yourself. It doesn’t need to be stressful – it can be plain sailing if it is well organised. This is supposed to be one of the most exciting times of your life, so enjoy it.

Lynn Wight is Head of International Recruitment – Accountancy & Finance at Rutherford Cross.