moving overseas for your medical fellowship

What to consider when moving overseas for your medical fellowship

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So you’re thinking about undertaking an overseas medical fellowship that will provide a wonderful opportunity for you to live, study and work abroad. Whatever your current situation, committing to moving overseas for your medical fellowship requires careful organisation and planning. These pre-emptive considerations will help provide a smooth transition for the next chapter of your medical journey, albeit in less familiar surroundings.

To get you started, here are 8 key steps to tick off before moving overseas for your medical fellowship.

Get on top of the paperwork early!

There’s no denying it, relocating overseas requires a lot of administration and paperwork and minor oversights can often end up adding a lot of unnecessary stress and anxiety to the process. So make sure you factor in plenty of time for this first step and be aware that this is something that will require your ongoing attention. There’s plenty of good resources available online (such as The Smart Traveller Guide) to use as a starting point and creating a tailored checklist can be a good idea to help work through the admin process and keep you on track.

Visa and work requirements 

It is crucial to understand your visa and work requirements as most countries in the world require you to obtain a work permit or visa to work legally.

Usually, you would require an employment letter or a signed contract from the employer before applying for the relevant visa. Employers will often apply for visas on your behalf, but this should be clarified before you accept a fellowship position.

Check the relevant foreign embassy websites for specific information about your proposed country in order to comply with rules and regulations. Like Australia, foreign countries stipulate an individual’s passport to be valid for a required period after your arrival. For example, EU countries require at least 6 months left on an adult passport to be able to travel and work.

Lifestyle changes

Moving abroad involves a range of lifestyle changes that you need to be mentally prepared for. It is essential when researching to carefully consider inherent differences in language, culture, work ethic, climate and quality of life of the proposed city. If you can afford it and time allows, take a short trip before you decide to move. This would provide an invaluable immersive opportunity to explore the location further, ensuring that your needs and expectations are met. 

Use your network of colleagues and your future employer to gain insights into what day-to-day life might be like. What are the best neighbourhoods to live in? What is the daily commute like? How does it compare to home? What changes can you expect? Look at ex-pat articles for their experiences, and post in relevant ex-pat forums online if you have unanswered questions.

There are also Facebook group communities you can join, an example of this is Aussies in London which is run by Aussies, for Aussies. Their main goal is to make Australians feel welcome and to be involved within a community. Get searching, there might be a group you can join for your new destination which will help make your new move feel less daunting!

Cost of reallocation

Understand the cost of moving and make a list of items you will need to bring with you. There are local relocation companies that can organise a complete move on your behalf, however they can be quite expensive. Your employer may have recommendations and contacts of people who can assist but it is a good idea to compare a few quotes and decide from there.

Secure accommodation

There are so many different options to think about when it comes to finding accommodation and appropriate housing, and it will really depend on your personal circumstances. The process itself can get quite overwhelming and can be difficult to research.

The main factors that you should consider when choosing accommodation are:

  • How much do you want to spend on rent per month/year?
  • Where do you want to be based?
  • Do you need to factor in other family members and proximity to amenities/schools?  
  • Do you plan on spending several months or a year in this city or are you planning on moving there for a longer period?

Once again, do your research and have several different options of accommodation and housing that could work for you and your work requirements. Check-in with your future employer as they may be able to provide recommendations, or if you’re lucky, accommodation may even be factored in as part of your fellowship contract.

Your finances and the local cost of living

Once you have secured a fellowship contract, you will have a better understanding of what your financial situation will be, and you can start making a budget for your time overseas  To help you with this, start researching things such as the local cost of living, property rental costs, transport options and travel costs (if you plan on doing some traveling while overseas or are planning to return home for visits).

You’ll also need to think about banking and credit card options. Local bank accounts may take a while to set up and may require a visit in person. Therefore, depending on the country you are going to, you may need to bring some cash with you as well. There are many articles about how to open bank accounts for ex-pats moving to specific countries, so do this research in advance. In addition, use your future employer as a source of information.

Get advice on your tax and insurance options

It is important that you are aware of your tax obligations in the country you’ll be located in whilst completing your fellowship overseas. You’ll also need to understand what your tax obligations are within Australia whilst you are overseas.

It’s best to speak to your Tax Consultant to get an accurate picture of how your tax situation will be affected by the move, including whether you remain a resident or non-resident for tax purposes within Australia. Reviewing and potentially updating your insurance cover before you move is also an important step to ensure you remain covered appropriately as your circumstances change.

The main thing to remember before you commit to relocating for a medical fellowship is to do your research in advance and try to enjoy this process. The whole point of working and living abroad is to improve your professional medical expertise whilst gaining new and exciting experiences. This unique opportunity can be maximised by careful planning that will indeed propel you forward, both in your personal development and future professional endeavours.

Disclaimer: * The information contained in this site is general and is not intended to serve as advice as your personal circumstances have not been considered. DPM Financial Services Group recommends you obtain personal advice concerning specific matters before making a decision.

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