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Starting over in a new country – particularly if you’re young – can be an intimidating and scary task to undertake. But it’s exciting too. Uprooting your life and settling somewhere else takes plenty of time and preparation. But where do you start? Drawing on the expert advice from Sable International, we take a look at what you need to consider when moving to another country.
Niel Pretorius reckons the most important place one needs to start is deciding where you want to move:
“You sometimes get a query asking, ‘what are the tax effects of living here or there?’ I kind of take a different approach – a lifestyle approach – I ask, ‘where is it that you want to live?’ and plan around that.”
Once you’ve settled on a new country to call home, you must realise that there’s plenty of administration involved in the emigration process that is difficult to navigate on your own. Pretorius also notes that patience is an important part of the procedure. When asked how long the process can take, he said “anywhere from three – six months. I’ve had cases which took a year to 18 months to finalise before the clients were actually in position to move across.”
Use that time to prepare financially. While you don’t have to be a millionaire to change your domicile, it’s best to save as much money as you can in order to make things as stress-free as possible. Instead of trying to figure out how much money you will need, it’s best to calculate your finances in terms of where you plan on moving. As Pretorius notes, “the costs of things are vastly different across the world. Take property, for example. [A home] in London is completely different to [what it would] cost in Cape Town or Johannesburg.”
This is also the time to consider whether you can actually emigrate. Cost of living differs from country to country. Have you considered that you may have a drastic lifestyle change? Many people only consider moving abroad once they’ve secured a job that maintains their lifestyle. Others, out of desperation, are willing to leave and settle for less (financially) in return for other benefits – a better quality of life, lower crime etc.
While many people plan their emigration, others inadvertently find themselves living in a foreign country. Often, individuals are afforded an opportunity to work overseas – for what they think will be a short period of time. As the years (and opportunities) roll by, they find themselves in another country for longer than they had planned. After all that time there, many decide to stay there – but this leaves somewhat of a financial entanglement with regards to investments and policies that have been left behind.
It is surprising how often that happens. It’s the typical thing. I’m going abroad for two-three years and 10 years later, I’m still here. As you say, there’s things left behind in SA from RA’s, tax-free savings accounts, endowments and the like. Then, it’s a question of, ‘okay, lets tidy all this up.
Are you going back at some point or not?’ Because they might have different solutions in the overall planning. It’s always best to get a start. Get it all sorted out, especially from a tax point of view.
If emigration is something you’re strongly considering – or have already decided upon – remember, it’s a big decision. Take everything into consideration. You need to take the money and uprooting factors into account – remember, don’t rush into it. Also, this is one aspect of life where you want expert advice. “If necessary, ask for second opinions from different advisers. But make sure you actually go through it and that you are comfortable with something. If you’re not comfortable with it. Don’t do it,” says Pretorius.
Have a question about share investing? Write to me at [email protected].
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- Emigration alarm: SA’s rich get set to leave in droves – IRR
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