Things to Consider Before Relocating Abroad

Since Brexit, there is more to consider for British citizens looking to relocate abroad, especially within Europe. What are the main things you need to know, and what should you consider before relocating abroad? Christopher Nye, an overseas relocation specialist at Property Guides, shares his top tips.

Street in France with yellow buildings with green windows, cobbled pavement with a bike leaning against black railings outside a restaurant.
Many popular European destinations are part of the European Union and Schengen Zone.

What Should You Consider Before Relocating Abroad?

There’s a lot to think about when relocating overseas. What do you need to apply for? What documents do you need? Where will you live and work? If you have kids, where will they be going to school? These are all critical things to consider before making the move.


While travelling to Europe for short-term visits has not changed post-Brexit, those who want to stay longer will find they need to get a visa.

Many popular European destinations are part of the European Union and Schengen Zone. Without a visa, non-EU citizens, such as the British, can only stay in the Schengen Zone for 90 days in a rolling 180-day period. As such, if you’re planning a permanent relocation to a member country, you will need to apply for a visa.

Working vs non-working visas in the EU

Each country will have its own visa requirements, and it is generally easier to get a non-working visa than one that allows you to work.

In most cases, to get a work visa in an EU country, you will need a job offer from an employer in that country before you apply. Work visas usually last for one year with the opportunity for extension.

Another option would be to apply for a non-working visa. These visas are very popular with retirees and those working remotely for a UK employer. You would have the right to live but not work in your chosen EU country and can often access its public healthcare system.

Some European countries also offer a ‘golden visa’ which gives the holder multi-year residency in exchange for a substantial investment in the country, usually through property.

Madrid, Spain and a large fountain
Most countries require you to have full private healthcare before applying for a visa.


As previously mentioned, once you have residency in a European country, you can often access its public healthcare system.

However, most countries require you to have full private healthcare before applying for a visa.

Another thing to note is that, unlike the NHS, European state healthcare is not always completely free, and you may have to make some contributions. For example, in France, the state will typically only cover a portion of your healthcare costs – on average, 70% (depending on the treatment and practitioner). The remaining amount would be paid by you or by your ‘top-up’ insurance, which is usually inexpensive.

You may not be aware that if you relocate to an EU country at pensionable age and receive a UK state pension, you can enjoy free public healthcare on the same basis as a citizen of that country, paid for by the UK government! All you need to do is fill in an S1 form.

Thailand beach with boats
These tropical beach destinations offer desirable visa schemes – particularly for retirees.

Moving Abroad with Kids

Being honest with your kids from the start is the key to a smooth relocation abroad. The earlier you involve them in your decision, the more they can process the information and lessen the adverse reactions.

Emotional preparation is vital, while the practicalities will be necessary. Let’s not forget that the thoughts and feelings of your kids, whatever their age, will need to be talked through. They may be worried about moving to a new school, making new friends, or even understanding a new language.

Relocating abroad with kids is complicated by the pandemic and Brexit. There may be new rules they need to follow, like wearing masks, curfews and social distancing, remembering that all preventive measures are there to protect your family.

Is it worth relocating further afield?

With Brexit making relocation in Europe more difficult, is it worth looking further afield? You’ll need a visa for a permanent move, regardless of whether you choose to hop across the Channel or fly to the other side of the world.  

Therefore, you may want to consider other factors when choosing a relocation destination, such as language and culture. Australia is a popular choice for British ex-pats due to no language barrier and a relatively similar culture. With great weather, beautiful beaches and plenty of affordable towns and cities, perhaps it’s time to think about moving Down Under.

Other options that you may not have considered but are growing in popularity are the likes of Panama, Costa Rica and Thailand. These tropical beach destinations offer desirable visa schemes – particularly for retirees – with spectacular scenery, vibrant cities, and affordable living. Thailand is exceptionally affordable; most people should live there comfortably on a monthly budget of $800-$1,200 (£590-£885).

There you have it, five things to consider before relocating abroad. Is it something you are considering now or in the future? Is it something you’ve recently just done? Let me know in the comments below.

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