Tag Archives: living abroad

How To Celebrate Your First Christmas Abroad

For useful articles and tips on moving to other countries and life as an expat, please like the PSS International Removals Facebook page and follow the Twitter profile.

Heath Cajandig, Only Chance of a White Christmas

Heath Cajandig, Only Chance of a White Christmas

At a time when most of us are used to being surrounded by family and friends, celebrating Christmas many miles away from the familiar traditions, can be one of the hardest times of the year.

If you usually celebrate December with turkey and all the trimmings, finding yourself in a country that has its festivities on Christmas Eve (Sweden and Denmark) or in 100’ degree heat (Australia) might all be a little strange. You may even be somewhere where December 25th is not recognised as a national holiday.

The key to surviving the holiday season is embracing the new whilst keeping one eye on the past. Here we’ve put together a survival guide for those facing their first Christmas in a new country. Our eight point plan should keep you busy.

* Keep up with the folks back home: Time differences aside, there’s no reason why you can’t wish your nearest and dearest a Happy Christmas. Book in a FaceTime or Skype slot and make sure you’ve got those Christmas jumpers on.

* Decide which traditions are important to you. The weather may be different but there will be no harm in keeping to those themes that you’ve followed every year. The kids will appreciate a familiar set-up, as will you.

* Say ‘yes’ to a festive invite. You may not have your family around so if someone invites you over for drinks or even lunch, agree. This will give you a chance to meet new friends * and also see how those who live in the country celebrate.

* Cook the meal that’s important to you. If there really is no option but having turkey followed by Christmas pudding, just go with it. Sitting down as a family and eating familiar food will make you feel closer to home than ever.

* Invite your family over to stay with you. What better time to have guests over than Christmas. If you’ve moved to colder climates, the chance to see snow, or maybe go skiing may be a great draw. Everyone dreams of a white Christmas after all.

* Encourage friends and family to send pictures and letters from home, detailing their year. You may have seen this all on Facebook before but new pictures and gossip from back home can certainly put a smile on your face.

* Over the festive period, keep busy. Plan to go to the cinema, out for dinner, to the beach or invite the neighbours around. There will be nothing worse than a quiet time, when you’re missing those you left behind.

* Embrace the new. You’ve made a big move so enjoy it. There’s something exciting about the unknown so go with the flow. You may enjoy it more than you thought.

If you are considering a move abroad PSS International removals can help. We are a family run company and our desire is to ensure your family receives a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. We have specialised in international removals for over 34 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle we recognise the importance of ensuring our customers receive the same level of care and attention that we would expect ourselves.

 

Contact us now for a free estimator’s survey, or simply fill in our online moving or baggage quote form.

What You Need To Know About Living In Norway

For useful articles and tips on moving to other countries and life as an expat, please like the PSS International Removals Facebook page and follow the Twitter profile

 

Graeme Maclean, fjord & flag, Taken during a day cruise

Graeme Maclean, fjord & flag, Taken during a day cruise

 

Norway is sovereign country bordered by fellow Scandinavian countries Finland and Sweden, as well as Russia. The North Atlantic coastline batters its western rim. Spread out over 385,252 kms, Norway has a population of just over five million residents. The majority live in the south of the country with capital Oslo boasting nearly 650,000 people. Other key cities include Stavanger, Bergen and Trondheim.

Norway is a relatively wealthy country, thanks much in part to its success in oil production.

Whilst it too has been hit by economic uncertainty, unemployment is just 4.6% (low by international standards) making it a good country to seek relocation. In 2015 Norway was ranked number 1 in the United Nations report on Human Development Indicators which looked at areas such as health, education and income across a variety of countries and rated them accordingly. So if you fancy a career in a country famed for its fjords and Vikings, here are some Norwegian facts and figures.

Language:  The official language is Norwegian but much of the country also speaks good English. You will however be expected to speak the native language, or at least another Scandinavian one, if you are serious about employment.

Currency: The Norwegian Krona (NOK) is the official currency of Norway. Currently you’ll get £1 for every 10 Kronas.  The personal income tax rate is around 39% so it’s worth taking this into account when negotiating salaries.

Accommodation: Most expats will initially look for somewhere to rent in Norway. You can expect a high level of rental properties that are well furnished, although there is a lot of competition and it may be some time before you pin down your new home. Rented accommodation can be found in a local newspaper or online at the Finn lifestyle website. Estate agents (eiendomsmeglere) and larger banks both sell and let properties.

Healthcare: Thanks to the high taxes, healthcare in Norway is available to all those who are registered as long-term citizens. There are both public and private medical services and facilities. There is a Norwegian National Insurance Scheme (NIS) which guarantees everybody a basic level of welfare and covers regular medical consultation, although some nominal costs apply.

Employment:  The average Norwegian working week is 40 hours and anything over this is classed as overtime. Industries currently seeing a boom are IT and communications. Other major industries include petroleum and gas, fishing, shipbuilding, metals, chemicals, mining, wood pulp and paper, food processing. For more information about finding a job in Norway visit the Norwegian Labour and Welfare Administration’s (NAV) website, or online Finn lifestyle website. Major companies will also post vacancies on their websites.

Climate: You can expect very cold winters, we’re talking -40’C but it’s not all doom and gloom. The summers can have temperatures of 30’C.

Education: Children are required to go to barneskolen, from ages 6-13 and ungdomsskolen, from 13-16. Afterwards further education, at a videregaende, is available followed by university and polytechnic options. They are international schools in Norway and more information can be found here.

Transport: There is a well established travel system in Norway with a large network of buses, ferries, trains and planes. Driving in Norway is on the right-hand side. There are strict speed limits, which are variable across residential and built-up areas. You’ll also need to keep your headlights dipped at all times as it’s the law. There are strict drink driving laws in Norway too. You’ll be required to carry a variety of legal documents which you can check out here.

If you are considering a move abroad PSS International removals can help. We are a family run company and our desire is to ensure your family receives a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. We have specialised in international removals for over 34 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle we recognise the importance of ensuring our customers receive the same level of care and attention that we would expect ourselves.

Contact us now for a free estimator’s survey, or simply fill in our online moving or baggage quote form.

How long should you give yourself before deciding to come home from a move abroad?

A moment to reflect

For useful articles and tips on moving to other countries and life as an expat, please like the PSS International Removals Facebook page and follow the Twitter profile

Any expat that tells you they never wanted to come home is probably not telling the whole truth. It is par for the course that the expat blues will set in at some point, as the adrenaline of a move to a new country wears off and the holiday vibe gives way to normality.

Many expats describe being hit by homesickness that’s almost like grief. They mourn the loss of family, friends and everything familiar. Grief is a good analogy, because the emotional stages an expat goes through are very similar: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and, finally, acceptance. But, for a small minority, the feeling of comfortable acceptance of their life in a new country, is elusive.

So, when is it ok to say: I’m not happy; I’m going home? If the feeling of being unsettled persists, how long should you wait before you throw in the towel and book a return ticket?

The answer is that it’s completely individual. The important thing is to do some honest soul searching before you make any rash decision. If you stopped beating yourself up about your understandable feelings of loneliness and displacement, could you take one day at a time?

If you decide you can manage the 24-hours-at-a-time approach, there are a few strategies you can try to immerse yourself in expat life and find a sense of belonging:

1. Stay connected

When you’re an expat, it’s OK to be a smartphone addict. Stay connected with people at home through email, Facebook, Instagram, and Skype. Your phone is also your best friend when it comes to researching and exploring your new area.

2. Read/write expat blogs

Reading about other people’s expat experiences will make you face the fact that you aren’t alone. Everything you’re feeling right now has been felt by thousands before you. The courageous act of moving to another country is fraught with anxieties and these are well documented in expat blogs, forums and Facebook communities.

If you feel brave enough to start your own blog, this can be a great way to share your new life with people back home. Many expats also find it therapeutic to use their blog to offload their feelings, both when expat life is rosy and when it feels less so.

3. Immerse yourself

Keep busy with work, volunteering, studying and social engagements – when you’re busy your mind has other things to focus on than anxieties. Getting out and meeting people is also crucial – once you have people to say “Hi” to, or even go out for a coffee with, you will start to see the potential for making new friends.

4. Indulge in some home comforts

Keep some of your favourite foods from home in the cupboard, stream your favourite TV shows or radio programmes from home. There’s no need to leave it all behind!

5. Plan a daily adventure

Try something new every day… A different route to the supermarket, a coffee shop that caught your eye, taking the train, or saying hello to someone you pass on your walk to work. You’ll feel good about taking small steps towards being at home.

6. Do what you love

Discover exercise classes, revive your hobbies, go for a walk, join a book club. One thing hasn’t changed – you are still YOU, so give yourself time and space to do the things that you enjoy. Exercise and hobbies are a great way of living in the moment, practising mindfulness, and escaping the stress of looking to the past, or future.

Taking a day at a time, and making an effort to integrate, helps overcome the hurdle of homesickness and allows expats to continue living abroad for as long as it suits them. Most adjust, although it’s common for it to take six months or longer to really feel ‘at home’.

Many expats do come home eventually, with the top five reasons being: financial difficulties, cultural differences, visa expiration and lack of social interaction. However, it is now thought that 1.2 million British people live abroad and that number is rising. In the year to September 2015, around 40,000 more British nationals left the UK to live abroad than came back.

If you are considering a move abroad PSS International removals can help. We are a family run company and our desire is to ensure your family receives a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. We have specialised in international removals for over 34 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle we recognise the importance of ensuring our customers receive the same level of care and attention that we would expect ourselves.

Contact us now for a free estimator’s survey, or simply fill in our online moving or baggage quote form.

Image: ‘A Moment to reflect’ by Jonathan Combe https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

 

 

 

 

 

Follow The New Zealand Wine Trail

For useful articles and tips on moving to other countries and life as an expat, please like the PSS International Removals Facebook page and follow the Twitter profile

 

Maurits Verbiest, Upside down

Maurits Verbiest, Upside down

There are many incredible activities to try out in New Zealand but one of the most enjoyable and most refined has to be exploring the wine trails that are dotted around the North and South Islands.

Renowned for its syrah, pinot noir, merlot and sauvignon grapes, New Zealand is something of a hot-spot for the wine connoisseur. It’s also a great place for those who just like a chilled glass of cabernet sauvignon after a busy day touring the region.

There are three main wine producing areas in New Zealand – Hawke’s Bay, Wairapara and  Marlborough. They account for about 80% of the wine production in New Zealand and house an astonishing 230 wineries and vineyards.

The Classic New Zealand Wine Trail covers 380 kms from Hawke’s Bay in the North to Marlborough in the South. Fully signposted, if you choose to drive this tour they suggest you give yourself four to five days to complete it.  But for those wishing to take it a little easier, there are many cycle tours offered around the vineyards.

Whatever your mode of transport, a trip to the vineyards will be an enjoyable way to sample one of New Zealand’s greatest exports.

Here’s our guide to what the different regions have to offer:

Hawke’s Bay:

As a producer of classic reds such as cabernet sauvignon, merlot and syrah, Hawke’s Bay is a great place to sample some of the best wines New Zealand has to offer. In fact, visit the Mission Estate Winery and you’ll find yourself not only in the country’s oldest wineries but also in the birthplace of wine in New Zealand. If you fancy coupling your drinking with some exercise, take one of the many bike tours offered around the region. Coastal Wine Cycles take their clients on the bike pathways around the Tukituki River and the coastal wineries of Te Awanga. Not a bad way to spend a day.

Wairapara:

Just north of New Zealand’s capital city Wellington, the Wairapara region is home to the vineyards of Martinborough. This is the spot to visit if you like pinot noir which is produced by some of the 20 wineries, most of which are family run. Make a visit to the Ata Rangi vineyard which is considered one of the best pinot noir producers in the country. If you choose to take the Martinborough Gourmet Wine Tour you can visit the vineyards, accompanied by an expert guide, who’ll talk about the wines and also take you to great places to eat. What’s not to like?

Marlborough:

Marlborough is often called the sauvignon blanc capital of New Zealand. Unsurprising since it has 90% of the countries sauvignon blanc plantings as well as being home to 76% of its wine production. You’ll find over 150 wineries with many offering open doors and tasting sessions. Plenty of the wineries offer gourmet food too. Big favourites are lunch at Allan Scott Wines which has Marlborough seafood chowder and miso maple Marlborough salmon on the menu or Wairau River Wines for a WR burger served with a glass of reserve pinot noir.

If you are considering a move to abroad PSS International removals can help. We are a family run company and our desire is to ensure your family receives a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. We have specialised in international removals for over 34 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle we recognise the importance of ensuring our customers receive the same level of care and attention that we would expect ourselves.

Contact us now for a free estimator’s survey, or simply fill in our online moving or baggage quote form.

Healthcare around the world

For useful articles and tips on moving to other countries and life as an expat, please like the PSS International Removals Facebook page and follow the Twitter profile

 

thephotographymuse, Beach Baby

thephotographymuse, Beach Baby

When you move to another country, ensuring that you have access to local healthcare immediately is high on most people’s priorities, particularly if you have children. We never know when we are going to fall ill or be involved in an accident, and medical bills can sky rocket into five or six figure sums before you know it, and yes, they will come after you to pay the money.

It’s important to understand what will make you eligible to access local health systems, before you go and unlike the UK, you cannot be sure that just because you live there, you will be given healthcare.

There is excellent initial advice on the NHS website, but you do need to make sure that you get advice from your destination country too. Regulations regarding healthcare do change, so you need to ensure that you get up-to-date information from official sources.

Whilst expat forums can be a good source of advice, people can pass on information that is relevant for them, but might not be correct for you.

In the EU there are procedures in place to ensure that the initial moving period is made as easy as possible, but this still means that paperwork has to be obtained from the UK as well as following the correct procedures in your new country.

It is important that you don’t rely on your EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) as this will only reimburse you for the sums that are paid out to the locals, so for example in France, most health conditions are only covered up to 70% by the State, so you would have to find the remaining 30% yourself. Once you are in the system properly and have a French Social Security number, you are able to take a low-cost top-up insurance that doesn’t take into account any previous health conditions, and then you are fully covered.

However the situation will be very different in each EU country, and remember when you are resident in another European country, you need to apply for your EHIC card there, as your UK version will no longer to be valid.

To ensure you are covered from the moment that you touch down, it is likely that you will need some form of insurance. Travel insurance may cover you for a short time, but if not, you may have to get full medical insurance, even if it is only for a short period. However, with all insurance, the devil is in the detail, so you need to be sure that you comply with all of the requirements, and make a full declaration of information, or it could be invalid.

Most countries have health systems that are a mix of private and state and will involve some payment, or presentation of paperwork, at the point of treatment. If you come from the UK, you may find this a bit of a shock to the system! It is good to get into the habit of carrying all your health documents with you, for you and your children, as you never know when they will be required.

If you are moving with an employer, hopefully you will be covered by a company policy, but it is still important to ensure that you are covered for all types of medical care from the routine, through to emergency.

If you are already taking medication, you might like to make sure that the same drugs are available in your new country and if not, that you can take a quantity with you (some drugs are not legal in other countries and therefore you cannot take them in). If you have problems, it’s best to see your own doctor in advance of leaving to make sure that you can take supplies with you or use an alternative.

 

If you are considering a move overseas PSS International removals can help. We are a family run company and our desire is to ensure your family receives a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. We have specialised in international removals for over 32 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle we recognise the importance of ensuring our customers receive the same level of care and attention that we would expect ourselves.

Contact us now for a free estimator’s survey, or simply fill in our online moving or baggage quote form.

 

Having A Baby Abroad

 

Triplées, Raphaël Goetter

Triplées, Raphaël Goetter

 

For useful articles and tips on moving to other countries and life as an expat, please like the PSS International Removals Facebook page and follow the Twitter profile

Pregnancy is a time of celebration and change. But however exciting it might be at first, having a new child abroad can be tough, especially when many don’t have the close and immediate support of their friends and family. Even basics, such as finding a doctor and the support you need, can be hard.

Exploring your options and making your own decisions can be one of the best tools for feeling empowered throughout your pregnancy. The choice is yours and being in control can certainly relieve some of your insecurities during the period. As always, research and planning are key to a successful pregnancy abroad. Here are some initial considerations:

Always research the best expat and lifestyle blogs and resources. Expat mums can also offer invaluable advice, recommendations, and support.

Will you need to change or adjust your diet?

What kind of citizenship status is your child entitled to?

What is the status of breast-feeding in your new country?

Are hospital births most common or do you have the option of a home birth?

How easy are medication and prescriptions to get hold of?

Where is the closest hospital and how easily accessible is it?

What does your health insurance entitle you to?

For many expats seeking medical care, their doctor is usually the first port of call and generally leads the patient through medication and care. But small differences like taking off your clothes rather than being offered a sheet to cover up can be deemed offensive and uncomfortable for some, so find out what is acceptable in your area. If the differences are too vast, you may prefer to consider a private hospital that supports your native language and offers familiar standards.

Some expats might like to consider creating a birth plan to help them understand what is happening every step of the way whilst gaining confidence in the process. A birth plan will help you to manage the process, the type of medication to be used, which monitoring devices you should use, whether you should be induced or not, Caesarean considerations and how the baby might be cared for.

Planning these choices carefully beforehand can help you realise what’s realistically achievable and help you deal with stress more effectively.

Birthing classes could also be an option as well as joining a support group. If you are not already established in a social circle in your expat life, being pregnant is an excellent gateway to make new friends.

It is also vital to understand your insurance coverage as different procedures and medications may or may not be covered. Also note the method of payment in your new country. You have to pay first (by cash or credit card) and then make a claim from your insurance provider so check with your hospitals to see if they have a list of insurers with whom they have direct billing arrangements.

Another factor to consider is the status of citizenship for you and your child. A second citizenship and passport can offer your child greater freedom to travel, less tax liability, access to more affordable health care or college education, and more employment and investment opportunities in future. Note that not all countries allow dual citizenship, and many countries only allow dual citizenship with a limited number of other countries. Find out about the dual citizenship regulations of your home country and the country you plan to have your baby in to discover the relevant laws and regulations surrounding citizenship.

PSS International removals are a family run company and our desire is to ensure your family receive a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. We have specialised in international removals for over 32 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle we recognise the importance in ensuring that our customers receive the same level of care and attention that we would expect ourselves.

Contact us now for a free estimators survey, online moving and baggage quote.

 

How to ensure your move abroad goes smoothly

By Cpl. Jovane Holland (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/412768) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Cpl. Jovane Holland (https://www.dvidshub.net/image/412768) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

For useful articles and tips on moving to other countries and life as an expat, please like the PSS International Removals Facebook page and follow the Twitter profile

Recent reports suggest that there are over 3.4 million British people living abroad, which is 7% of the overall British population. One of the major reasons for this is the weather. Roughly 1000 people leave the UK every day in search of sunnier climes and a higher standard of living. Of these 1000 people, over 40% are usually British citizens and most choose to relocate to either Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, South Africa, the US or UAE.

Although the UK has some beautiful countryside and stunning coastlines throughout the country, the weather defines how often we get to enjoy the outdoors. Even during the summer, there is no guarantee that we’ll be able to visit our favourite beach due to either wind or rain often destroying our best-laid plans.

It’s generally a lot cheaper to live abroad and many skilled professionals find that they can often earn more than they do in the UK whilst experiencing better working conditions, less working hours, less tax and better private healthcare schemes.

According to a report by the Daily Mail in 2010, nine out of ten Brits currently living abroad said their quality of life had improved since leaving the UK; but that’s not to say that the moving process always goes according to plan! Unfortunately, it is often this process that is misunderstood; landing people with all sorts of unexpected difficulties to tackle.

If you are considering leaving the UK permanently, it goes without saying that thoroughly researching your chosen destination and not overlooking the important points is vital. Always visit key forums and expat community resources to help get a feel for the country, region or city you intend to move to first. For example, how does Melbourne differ from Sydney or Auckland from Christchurch? You might be surprised!

Familiarise yourself with the local regulations and customs. One great resource for this is The FCO’s Know Before You Go page on http://www.gov.uk.

Consider your health. Once you permanently leave the UK you are no longer entitled to medical treatment under the NHS or via a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Be sure to sign-up to health insurance and if you are staying within the European Economic Area (EEA), read up on the S1 form (previously known as the E121 form). For more useful information visit the NHS moving abroad page.

Consider your long-term financial requirements by reading up on the impact moving overseas may have on any benefits or retirement income. Visit this state pension abroad page as a good resource. Be realistic about your living costs, don’t automatically assume they will be the same as the UK and don’t forget to formulate a Plan B if things go wrong.

Once your key research is in place and before deciding on a leaving date, set up a consultancy session with an independent legal professional and don’t feel under pressure to use your property developer’s or estate agent’s contacts. Take a look at http://www.gov.uk for the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s English-speaking lawyers lists. It is very important that your legal consultant understands the law in the country you intend to move to.

Investigate recruiting a specialist international removals company such as PSS International Removals. We have successfully helped thousands of customers move throughout the world, over more than 30 years, and we are fully aware that issues with packing, customs and shipping must all be taken into account, and that’s not to mention initial advice on Visas, job seeking, property searches, tax and all of the elements that go into an individual’s life in a new country.

It is always important that you are covered for financial security to avoid any possible problems at foreign ports and paying extortionate fees just to recover property. With this in mind, we offer a door-to-door service meaning the customer sees their belongings being packed at their doorstep and then opened in the same state at destination.

Furthermore, we have achieved the highest level of service within the industry by attaining FAIM ACCREDITATION which is the only independent Quality Assurance standard for the International Moving Industry.

PSS is also a Member of the FIDI Global alliance, British Association of Removers Overseas Group, and BAR OVERSEAS, which is covered by the I.M.M.I. Advance payment guarantee scheme for customer’s financial protection.

Once you have moved abroad and understand the costs, research the taxes that will be applicable to you in your new home (as well as back in the UK). Don’t forget to take exchange rates into account and consider the potential financial implications of moving.

Never rush into buying. Many advise renting for the first 6 months in a new country while you take the time to settle in, investigate the area and integrate into your community, ensuring you become familiar with the local protocol. You can then decide whether it might be somewhere you or your family will be happy long-term. Try and make a concerted effort to avoid isolating yourself and learn the local language that will play an important role in helping you settle in and meet new friends.

And finally, don’t forget to notify the Social Security Office, HM Revenue & Customs and the Department of Work & Pensions that you are moving overseas, as well as your GP. For a full list of who to contact, visit this retiring abroad page.

If you have any questions, please get in touch with our international moves team.