Column: What you need to know about moving abroad

Credits: Cindy Van Dyck

Living abroad, it has always been in me. Since I was a full-time travel blogger, I used to travel around the world all year round. Sometimes up to 23 trips a year. So being abroad is anything but unfamiliar to me. But life in the Caribbean does have its own challenges. And today I am sharing with you my personal experiences that you too should take into account if you like to stay abroad.

So much of who we are, is where we have been.

Take your time to discover

Have you fallen in love with the culture, atmosphere or lifestyle of a particular country? Then it is not uncommon for you to travel and vacation there immensely. In time, you may also rent something there and stay for longer periods of time. Just as I am now traveling between Belgium and the Dominican Republic. The biggest advantage of being able to work digitally from anywhere in the world.

When making your choice of where to stay, take the time to discover where you really want to be. For the first few weeks or two months (depending on how much time you have), try out different neighborhoods, using AirBnb for example, to see where you feel most at home and comfortable. Only when you know where you like to stay the most can you start looking for a long-term rental. During that time, look for things that remind you of being home. Find your favorite local supermarket, the nearest pharmacy, discover nearby restaurants if you like to eat out,…

Personally we choose to stay in the capital itself: Santo Domingo. However we do love Las Terrenas. But we also knew that if we would stay close to the beach during the first year of being here, we would never have worked as hard due to the distractions. Today Angelo is looking for a stay in Punta Cana, while I still chose for the city life. At the end, we can always rent a car or take the public transport to get away for a weekend. So easy!

Rentals and apartments

If you are still looking, as mentioned above, for a neighborhood where you can really feel at home, it is best to look into Airbnb stays. Although this can get hugely expensive in the long run.

Once you know you’re going to be traveling up and down for a full year, for example, you can opt for a permanent residence and rent an apartment in that particular neighborhood. We arranged this as well.

What is the easiest way to do this? Through Facebook Marketplace and neighbors. For example, we found our apartment thanks to an ad on Facebook. Every real estate agent here uses social media to promote the real estate market. You can also ask local restaurants if they know of any apartments that are for rent.

When you visit, you should pay attention to the following:

– Is the condition of the apartment okay? Mainly the condition of the walls (moisture problems due to air conditioning installation) and the bathrooms are important. After all, you don’t want to have work done throughout the year.

– What guarantee do they ask for and what are the payment conditions? For example, we had to pay for 3 months of warranty + the first 3 months of rent in advance before agreeing. A total of 6 months to pay in advance. This was because we did not have a foreign account and they wanted assurance that we would be able to make the monthly payments correctly.

– Is there security in the apartment and a general power supply? Living on an island always brings challenges. Power outages, for example, are not uncommon and you want to make sure you don’t end up without electricity for hours. Some buildings come with a generator, with others you have to make the investment yourself, just like ours.

– And last, but certainly not least, make sure you have proper and legal paperwork. Don’t make deals abroad without legal documentation or paperwork from a lawyer. Have everything proofread by someone who is familiar with the language and always choose a person who does not know the other party personally to avoid fraud. Each country has a designated lawyer by the consulate of Belgium that you can contact and engage for such paperwork or questions.

Daily necessities

As a tourist, you can pay in the country with the local currency. However, in the long run, it may be more economical to open an account at a local bank instead of withdrawing money each time with your VISA card. Not only do you pay a fixed fee, but sometimes it is just easier to make transfers than to pay in cash.

For my fitness subscription here, just like in Belgium, or for payments among friends, it is very convenient that this can be done at my local bank. If I have to make a foreign transfer from Belgium, for example for the rent, I have to pay a handling fee each time. And that really adds up!

How to open an account? Go to a local bank that allows foreigners to open an account. For the Dominican Republic, BHD Léon is the easiest for this. They require the least amount of paperwork and arrange your account within 5 business days.

Attention: you are legally obliged to declare your accounts abroad to your personal tax authorities and the National Bank of Belgium! So as soon as you have your new bank details, send them to your accountant and, if necessary, also your contact person at your Belgian bank.

Enjoy your best life

Once you have arranged your permanent residence abroad and a few things to make your daily life easier, you can start enjoying it! Travel up and down as often as you like, save the huge cost of hotels and live your best life.

At the moment I travel back to Belgium every two months. During my next trip back to Europe, I have planned a city trip to Paris and in the winter I’m thinking of visiting some Christmas markets in Cologne and London. And starting in 2023, I plan to visit the Caribbean islands. I can’t wait!

I would like to conclude by saying that this lifestyle is not impossible for anyone. With the right preparations, a digital job that you can do from anywhere in the world, and your own motivation, you can make this happen in no time. And I am happy to help you with this if you want to work out a step-by-step plan. How do we do this? Thanks to the Blogzine Academy! Angelo and I help every entrepreneur to realize their plans and goals. So if yours is to be able to stay abroad and generate an income online, we can work on that together! You can find more info here. You won’t regret it!

This article has been written by @CINDYVANDYCK

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