Thinking of leaving the UK to start a new life in Qatar, Dubai or elsewhere in the Middle East? Then read our essential top tips first.
Guardian Wealth Management offer financial advice services to expats all over the Middle East, serving our clients from our offices in Qatar and Dubai. Thorough financial planning is important when you’re thinking about living or working abroad, but there are also other things you need to consider to help make the transition to a new life a successful one.
There has been an increase in the need for expatriate workers across the Middle East over recent years and this has become even more pressing since Qatar won the bid to host the World Cup in 2022; Qatar will need skilled workers to help with the development of facilities and infrastructure in preparation for this event.
Drawing on his years of experience in the financial services industry, our Group Chief Executive, David Howell, offers here his top 12 tips for anybody considering a new life abroad.
Top Tips for would-be expats
1. When you move to a different country, the parameters and information that was used to set up your health insurance or life insurance policies may be altered. This could mean that your insurance will not be valid for your new location. It’s vital that you check your health and life insurances to ensure that you will still be covered if you move – if not, make the appropriate arrangements to make sure you have that all important cover.
2. If you’re thinking of taking your car when you move abroad, find out if you will have to pay import tax when you register your car there. Also, check your insurance, as you may not be covered for driving in a foreign country.
3. Before you go, make a real effort to learn the language – being able to communicate with your new contacts is invaluable. You could take a course or use any of the various audio and online resources available to help. When you arrive, try to make friends with English speaking locals in case you need help with translation of documents etc.
4. Every country is governed by its own laws – so make sure you are aware of any differences in the law and culture, in order to stay out of trouble and not cause offence. If you’re moving to a Middle Eastern country, such as Qatar or the U.A.E, pay particular attention to alcohol drinking laws and etiquette when it comes to talking to and about women.
5. Running a bank account from abroad can incur many higher costs – things like transfers and withdrawals could end up costing a pretty penny! Open a bank account in a local bank as soon as you get there. Make sure you’re aware of any tax implications, though places such as Qatar and Dubai may have other tax benefits to offer you.
6. Hopefully you will already have a will in the UK – if not, get one and make sure you make a will in your country of residence too.
7. Moving to the Middle East is a big change; it will affect your whole life, including your finances. Make a full assessment of your economic situation and ask for advice from a wealth management expert, such as Guardian Wealth Management.
8. Stay in touch! It’s harder to keep in contact with friends and family when you’re as far away as Qatar or Dubai, but that personal network is still important. Send out all your new contact details; physical and email addresses and phone numbers – and make use of the social networking tools available online too.
9. Have you got a pension plan? Then go through the details and make sure that you’re aware of the regulations surrounding pensions in your new location.
10. Don’t get yourself into a tax nightmare – firstly inform HMRC you are to work abroad this will avoid incurring dual income tax charges on your income earned abroad. Remember you will still need to complete an accurate self-assessment form and submit it to HMRC for any income earned in the UK. This will include any interest earned in UK bank accounts and rental income for properties that you own on a buy-to-let basis in the UK.
11. Look out for any networking opportunities in Qatar, Dubai or wherever you are moving to. Expat groups and societies are a great way to meet established expats who have also moved from your home country and faced the same challenges. They will offer a new social network and probably some helpful advice too!
12. The most important thing when moving to a new country is to PLAN! It’s a big move and you’ve got lots to arrange – give yourself as much time as possible to make sure you have everything in place for the big day.
These tips will help you make all the right arrangements in preparation for your new life in the Middle East. If you would like to speak to one of our Independent Financial Advisers in Qatar, Dubai or here in the UK, contact us now for further help and advice.