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It’s the dream of many Americans to move abroad and live overseas as Expats, with Italy being one of the most popular of all destinations in the world! The cheap cost of living the Dolce Vita, the superb food, wonderful scenery, culture and heritage, all adding to the country’s magical allure.
However, before you move abroad there are things which you absolutely must do first. This is especially important if you are moving abroad for a long period of time or planning to become an Expat.
These things apply to any country that you are planning to move to, including of course, Italy.
Passport And Visas.
The very first thing you need to do before moving abroad is to arrange your passport and, if necessary, any Visas that are required by your destination country. Try to get your passport early – it should usually last for 10 years once it’s renewed – because some countries require that it’s valid for 6 months before your arrival.
Every country has unique requirements when it comes to Visas with different conditions and allowances, depending on your citizenship, your country of origin and the destination country.
Fortunately, many countries don’t require Americans to have a Visa to enter, however, Italy does require that Americans obtain an entrance Visa; which is valid for up to 3 months. If you do want to stay for longer than 3 months then you will need to apply for official resident status. You can apply for an entrance Visa at your local Italian consulate and for your resident status you should apply as far in advance as you can because it can often take several weeks to obtain.
Other critical questions you should research before you apply for a Visa when moving abroad include:
- How long is the Visa valid for and can it be renewed? If it can be renewed, how many times can you renew it?
- Do you need to apply for a separate resident status or does the entrance Visa automatically give you the right to stay more permanently?
- Does the Visa include any restrictions on whether you can work, how long you can work for and the type of work you can do?
- Does the Visa allow you to access local healthcare services and other social security services?
- How much are the fees for the Visa application?
Save Money For Travel and Living Expenses.
Before you depart for another country you always need to set a little money aside to cover your costs during and after the move. It’s fairly easy to determine the cost of travel because you can check online or ask a local travel agent for a breakdown of airline tickets. However, accurately calculating a budget for your living expenses on arrival can be a little more tricky.
When calculating your living expenses you should break down the foreseeable costs into five main categories, including:
- Accommodation – renting a home or, if you plan to, purchasing a property.
- Groceries and food.
- Utilities and other bills.
- Day to day travel – train fares, car rentals and so on, depending on your planned lifestyle.
- Entertainment and other activities.
You can do most of your research online, with helpful articles that break down the costs of living in almost all countries, including Italy. You can also use social media to join Expat groups in your destination country. Once you’ve joined the groups you can ask other members to give you estimates – which they will be more than happy to do. NOTE: This website has a lot of the information that you are looking for.
Once you have a good idea of what your future costs will be, compare the figure to your savings and your expected salary or income. Ideally, you don’t want to come up with a shortfall!
Create An Emergency Fund.
As well as ensuring that you can afford the daily costs of life you should also build up an emergency fund before you leave to live abroad. Of course, you hope it won’t happen, but accidents and unexpected problems can arise while you’re abroad and you may need some extra funds to cover those costs.
There’s several ways that you can find yourself in financial problems and in need of some emergency funds while abroad:
- A paycheck is delayed.
- You are unable to find a rental property and have to live in a hotel for longer than you expected, thus, increasing your costs.
- You suffer an accident or medical emergency and have to pay up front for immediate treatment.
To be safe, you should try to have at least 4-6 months of living expenses saved up in advance of your move and, if possible, on top of that you should have an extra few months worth of living expenses saved as an emergency fund. This is especially true if you have a somewhat irregular income, such as freelancing.
Immunizations And Other Health Related Requirements.
It’s vital that you ensure that your health is protected when you arrive in a new country! This means that you need to arrange a reliable health insurance policy in advance, and check that it’s valid in Italy.
Some countries will allow you to use free public healthcare if you need to, however most do not; so be 100% sure of what the rules are before you move. When you’re moving to Italy you can either use an existing healthcare insurance or take out a new one on arrival.
If you have any unique, or unusual, healthcare requirements, such as requiring a specific medication, then you should also find out if you will be able to receive the care or treatment that you need. Some prescription medications are hard to get hold of in some countries and in some places you might not be able to access specialized care or treatment centers.
Selling Your Possessions Or Putting Them In Storage?
When you’re moving overseas you’re going to have to decide what to do with your things; for instance, are you going to sell your items or put them in storage? Part of your decision will naturally be based on how long you are planning to stay in Italy and also on how many things you have.
If you are planning to take your things with you then you’ll have to keep the costs of international shipping in mind although if you are moving on a long term or permanent basis then it will be worth it to have your things with you.
Alternatively, if you are moving for a shorter period of time, a few years perhaps, then putting your things in storage might make more sense in the long run.
Lastly, if your things hold very little sentimental value to you then you may want to sell your possessions to help fund the trip abroad!
Whatever you decide to do, you’re likely to have to downsize somewhat before your big move.
Make Moving Arrangements Early!
Don’t leave things to the last minute, particularly when it comes to selling your house or letting your landlord know that you’re planning to leave. It can often take a lot longer than you expect to sell your house, even in a good housing market, so try to start making the arrangements as soon as you know that you’re planning to move abroad.
Of course, if you own your own home then it might make more sense for you financially to rent it out while you’re away; in which case, you should also be setting up arrangements with a property management company who can look after things for you while you’re overseas.
Also though, if you’re renting your property then don’t just up and leave without following the rules in your lease. Give your landlord as much warning as you can so they have time to find new tenants and so you don’t potentially violate your lease and incur extra, unnecessary costs.
Setup Mail Forwarding.
Before you leave to move to a new country you should ensure that any important mail is going to be forwarded to your new address! You want all your unpaid bills, bank statements and credit card information, insurance policy papers, documents and personal correspondence to be forwarded to your new location.
You can easily arrange this by contacting the United States Postal Service and setting up a mail forwarding service with them.
Cancel Your Unneeded Subscriptions.
We all have multiple subscriptions running at any one time in life but when you move to a new country many of them won’t be relevant or necessary anymore. It’s important that you remember to cancel any subscriptions that you won’t be needing anymore because the last thing you want is to have money leaching out of your account for services you no longer use!
Review And Clarify Your Tax Requirements.
It’s vital to understand your tax status before leaving for a new country! Every country has different tax codes and regulations which you need to comply with so either do plenty of research in advance or seek professional advice.
Some of the tax related questions that you need to research and understand before you leave include:
- Will you still need to file taxes in your home country? For instance, if you are an American citizen then you are still required to file a tax return in the US, even if you are living overseas.
- What taxes are you eligible for paying, if any, in Italy? For example, do you have to pay capital gains taxes?
- Are there any tax treaties or a totalization agreement that you should be aware of between the US and Italy?
- Do you need to pay into a pension fund or other social security payments in Italy?
- Are there tax implications in Italy if you plan to invest money abroad?
Make Sure You Have Arranged Accommodation Before You Leave!
It’s very important for making a smooth transition when moving abroad that you arrange your accommodation before you arrive! The worst outcome of a move overseas is to turn up with your bags and suitcases with nowhere to stay.
You have several options when deciding where to stay, with the right answer depending on your specific circumstances.
You can arrange to stay in a hotel when you first arrive, which can be the easiest option but will also cost you more money. Secondly, you can rent a short term AirBnB apartment which will be less expensive than a hotel and allow you to stay on a more long term basis. Alternatively, you can arrange in advance to rent an apartment, although this can be difficult if you are making the arrangements from the United States.
Research, Research And More Research!
Last but not least, you should do as much research into your destination country, the cultural norms, the lifestyle and the costs of living before you set off. The more you know in advance the less likely you are to run into trouble or find yourself in difficult, unexpected situations!
It will also take out a lot of the stress of moving to a new country if you have a good idea of what to expect on arrival and make it easier for you to settle into your new life abroad.
Get Your Ducks In A Row Before Moving Abroad From The US.
Before your move abroad you should try to arrange as much as you can in advance so your transition will be as easy as possible. It can seem like there’s a huge amount to do and you’ll never be able to get it all done but if you simply work your way through the checklist above you’ll have everything sorted out before you move!
Making sure that everything is in order before you leave, from your accommodation, taxes and finances to your mail, subscriptions and Visa, will take the stress out of your move and ensure that you enjoy your new life abroad from the moment you arrive.