2021 could be the year you make the big move and leave your home country, joining the expat community of professionals overseas. Moving abroad always means enormous changes and rewards at the same time.
To help you take the leap, we round up a checklist for moving abroad as an expat in the aftermath of Brexit and COVID-19.
How do I become an expat in 2021?
The pandemic has affected expats worldwide with many finding that their priorities shifted, both in terms of finances and quality of life. But many people made the leap before. And others are planning to follow, with many considering moving abroad in 2021, particularly young professionals and families with children and teenagers.
Several factors play in to the desire to experience life in another country in 2021. There is people’s increasing awareness of the importance of fulfilling their dreams, as well as the urge to escape the monotony of lockdown. The huge rise in remote working has also made it possible for many professionals to work from anywhere – including another country.
And why wouldn’t you? 74% of expats increase their income in their new country, according to HSBC’s latest Expat Explorer study.
As well as the financial benefits, moving abroad can open your eyes to different ways of living – and satisfy the wanderlust that’s been growing in you since the lockdown started.
What are the most best countries and cities for expats in 2021?
Several countries are capitalising on this trend. Dubai, for example, has launched a one-year virtual working programme, specifically aimed at attracting working professionals. It’s also offering free coronavirus vaccinations to some expats. Barbados has a similar programme – the Welcome Stamp – aimed at remote workers.
In Europe, Finland has introduced the ’90-day Finn’ scheme, which gives foreign tech professionals the chance to move to the country for 90 days to see if they want to live there permanently. And Greece is offering tax breaks to attract expats.
Forbes lists Portugal, Spain and France among its top 10 places to move to in 2021. Switzerland, Singapore and New Zealand are popular too.
You can also consider Switzerland, Singapore, New Zealand, Germany and Spain, according to the latest research by HSBC.
Find out more about where expats are going.
What is expat life like in 2021?
Expat life has always varied according to your reasons for moving abroad, where you choose to live and whether you move alone or with family. The pandemic has caused additional challenges for many expats with the severity of lockdowns in European countries, and xenophobia on the rise in some destinations.
Civil unrest and political uncertainty is also affecting some countries – from the US, where COVID-19 safety is also a concern – to Hong Kong. Plus there are fears about ostracisation in COVID-secure societies such as South Korea and Taiwan.
However, many of the current challenges will subside, and there are tens of thousands of expats who would not consider returning home as they enjoy the climate and quality of life in their adopted countries, among other factors.
As always, the best advice is to do your research before you move abroad and talk to other expats.
Checklist for moving abroad as an expat in 2021
- Research the entry requirements including any COVID-19 restrictions. Check what restrictions are in place if you need to get back to your home country quickly. Read here about how to get a COVID vaccine as an expat.
- Consider using a relocation agent to help you navigate the move abroad. Availability of experts may be limited post-Brexit and COVID-19 so make initial enquiries as early as possible.
- If you’re moving abroad with family and/or pets, there are additional considerations such as schooling and pet passports.
- Be proactive about making connections, both with other expats and locals. It helps to know some of the language too.
- Prioritise your health, including mental health, as moving abroad – like any big change – can present challenges. Make sure all your medical appointments are up to date before you go, and that you have sufficient medication.
Healthcare can vary across the world, both in terms of quality and access. International health insurance can give you access to private healthcare, wherever you make your new home.
Are there changes to freedom of movement, healthcare and employment for expats in 2021?
A key consideration before you move abroad in 2021, is the changes brought about by the pandemic. With air travel restricted and quarantine regulations in place, it may be more challenging to visit to your home country, or have family visit you if they need to. You may also need to have international health insurance and to have had a Covid test to enter your chosen country.
However, many expats are already set up to work from home with the necessary tech – which makes it easy to keep in touch with friends and family via video call and online.
Are there any changes to employment for expats in 2021?
More than 11% of expats say they moved abroad because they were recruited internationally. These job opportunities may now be on the decline, in part due to the pandemic but also Brexit, with companies looking to recruit locally rather than internationally. However, many expats-to-be are able to work remotely for their current employer – check whether you need to register to pay tax locally.
What about changes to healthcare for expats in 2021?
Post-Brexit, some of the reciprocal agreements around healthcare in Europe have changed, so many expats now need to apply for residence to access state-funded healthcare. For anyone not permanently living in the new country, it’s important to have a Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC).
If you’re not eligible for state-funded healthcare, or would like additional peace of mind you may want to consider international healthcare insurance.