It’s now easier than it’s ever been to ‘up sticks’ and purchase property in a different country. There’s a few things to take care of before moving abroad, and some jobs you’ll want to get done as soon as you’re settled so you can start as you mean to go on and enjoy life abroad.
A couple of the jobs below aren’t the most exciting but are absolutely crucial to make sure you don’t get caught out down the line. So, first things first, money.
Bills and Banking
First things first, study your bank and card statements to determine what bills you’ll need to continue and what payments you can say ‘Tchau, adieu, adios, or however you choose to say goodbye for good to the UK.
If you’re moving permanently and disposing of your UK property then you’ll undoubtedly have to cancel:
- Landline, broadband & TV
- TV License
- Council Tax
- Any other additional monthly payments you make like a gym membership or entertainment subscriptions.
Keeping your property and renting it out? Assuming you’re working with a professional letting agent, ask their advice about the council tax and utilities. I guarantee they will have dealt with this situation many times before. In addition to cancelling any bills you’ll no longer need, you’ll need to let HMRC know you’re leaving and moving abroad. Fortunately, you may only need to complete one form (the P85), submitted online or via the post.
If you’re retired or are close to retiring, you’ll also need to contact the International Pension Centre and post the relevant form to them. Sadly, there isn’t yet an online option for this particular part of the process.
If you, or anyone who’s leaving permanently with you, receive state benefits then you’ll also need to get in touch with the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) so they can make changes to those benefits.
Now that your contracts are sorted, you don’t need to worry about having a big bill forwarded to you for the gym membership you haven’t used for months!
Taking your pets with you?
Fortunately moving to most place in Europe from the UK with your pet is a relatively painless experience if you get the preparation right. First off, you’ll need to ensure that every one of your furry children has a pet passport. Your local vet should be able to assist and advise you best on how to make sure they’re ready for the journey ahead. Note: If you haven’t already got one of these you need to start the process at least a month before you travel, any later and time constraints could mean you end up not being able to take your pet with you. You’ll also need to ensure your pet has a valid microchip implanted. It must get embedded after (or at the same time as) any rabies shots your pets need and it must be an ISO 11784/11785 compliant 15 digit chip. Again, your local vet should be fully aware of the requirements and able to ensure everything goes off without a hitch!
If your pet is anything other than a dog, cat, or ferret (yep, ferrets have passports!) then the rules do differ slightly depending on what type of animal it is. You can find further information on more unusual or exotic pets online; we’d recommend asking your vet if you’re unsure of anything.
Last but definitely not least.
Finally, be sure to set aside plenty of time to pack. You’d be amazed how many treat packing as an afterthought and end up rushing through it at the last minute. Take the time to decide what to take, and what to throw out. Transporting your belongings to Portugal won’t be cheap, so why waste money taking unnecessary items?
If you’re smart about it, you may even be able to make this clean-out to your advantage and raise valuable funds for the move. There are plenty of online market places you can utilise for this, or even car boot sales are all ideal for offloading unwanted items.
Home Sweet Home
Now that you’ve made the move, it’s time to fully embrace your new life, here’s some tips on how to hit the ground running and feel like a local in no time.
Organising Your Utilities
One of the first tasks you’ll have to take care of upon arrival in your new home is to organise your utilities. The quality of the supply will vary by location, but unless you’re rural, it shouldn’t be too challenging getting the supplies you need.
Gas & Electric
Most of Europe has an open market approach to gas and electric, so you’re free to choose the supplier that’s best for you. When transferring the gas and electric to your name, you’ll need to provide meter readings as well your tax number and proof of residency.
Bills are generally paid via monthly direct debit, or via a paper bill, and based on estimates for 11 months of the year. In month 12 your bill is produced based upon an actual reading and payments adjusted as needed. Some companies will allow you to submit your meter readings for more accurate bills, so if that’s important to you, it could be worth shopping around for an energy supplier offering that facility.
Water is where you’ll notice the main difference when connecting your utilities overseas, due it being a nationalised industry. As such, you’ll need to make your application to take over the supply at your municipal council office or directly to the local water board. Water usage is metered, and most people just set up a monthly debit and pay in full.
Broadband, Telephone & TV
They used to say that ‘home is where the heart is’. Now, it’s more like ‘home is where the wi-fi connects’.
Whether or not you agree with that entirely, there’s no denying that getting access to broadband, telephone and TV (especially broadband) will be high on your to-do list after moving abroad. Like the UK, numerous companies offer packages that bundle the services together, and it’s merely a case of shopping around to see what’s the best available deal at that time.
Moving house can be a stressful process, add to that the element of the unknown that comes with moving overseas and it could seem overwhelming. Use this checklist to plan ahead, tie up your loose ends at home before you leave and hit the ground running once you're there. Start as you mean to go on and have a great time while you're moving abroad.
For a handy way of keeping on top of all the little jobs ahead of your adventure, why not download our handy moving abroad checklist?