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My situation: I am 31 years old. I live in the UK and have been a software developer for 5 years (but only 1 year in a really challenging, full stack position). I own a house. I have a fair amount of savings and a decent salary.

However, I became divorced about a year ago. I have always wanted to move abroad, but haven't been able to as my ex-partner didn't want to.

Now I can, but I'm very apprehensive. I have a good job, am secure financially and am a home owner. I would be giving all of that up for the unknown... but it is something I've always dreamed of.

In terms of location, my current preference is New Zealand, but I have also looked at some other places that are good for software devs (Switzerland, Canada).

My question, is - would doing this be incredibly risky financially? I only have 80k left on my mortgage over a 12 year term, I have 20k in the bank and about 25k of equity in the house. I would potentially be risking years (well, a lifetime) of work for something that may or may not work out.

Apologies for the long post, but any advice would be greatly appreciated.

I would prefer to sell the house, as it gives me more cash (will have 40 - 45k in cash) and managing a property from thousands of miles away seems unfeasible at this point.

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    Are you planning to emigrate permanently, or just live & work in another country for a while? Or are you undecided at this point? My advice (having done the 2nd, but with no intention of permanent emigration) is to get the job first, then you can get to know the country before you decide. – jamesqf Jan 3 at 17:24
  • I don't quite understand the question. Which part do you think is risky? Of course there may be some risk in selling your house (also in keeping it though), but this wouldn't be all that different than if you had wanted to do this while staying where you are. There is certainly some risk of not liking it in the new place, not being able to find a job, work permit issues or some other (non-financial) reason, but we wouldn't really be able to comment on that. It may not be that easy to move the money, but this will heavily depend on laws in the specific countries. – NotThatGuy Jan 3 at 20:00
  • Living expenses or salaries may also be higher or lower, but this risk (if applicable) can be mitigated by doing some research and financial planning. – NotThatGuy Jan 3 at 20:05
  • @com.prehensible: Most of those I know in software & STEM fields generally either got the job before coming to the US, or were students (often grad students) at US universities. – jamesqf Jan 4 at 4:41
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    Leeds -- near the center of Britain -- to Lucerne is a lot shorter distance than Pittsburgh to Orlando, and people do that all the time. – RonJohn Jan 5 at 0:03
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Your current assets are small compared to what you can expect to earn in a lifetime and compared to what you will need for retirement. Fortunately, you are young and have decades more to save. Many people are in something like your situation of starting out, say with a graduate degree, in their late 20s or early 30s, but with no savings at all and perhaps even with student debt. My point is that you can likely afford to "start over" somewhere now if it's what you want, and the work experience and savings you already have will be a "bonus" compared to what many people have. So look at your location and job choice as if you were a new graduate but with a nice extra "cushion".

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It's something that needs careful planning. Do you know anything whatsoever about the market for your profession in Canada or New Zealand? Any idea how difficult it is to get a work visa? Any idea what happens to your pension rights in the UK?

Before I moved, I had six job interviews in my pocket, and one of them turned into a job. So be prepared, and have a fallback strategy. Figure out if you can arrange to go over for six months and return without too much financial damage.

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Some thoughts that came into my mind when reading your post - hopefully, some of them are beneficial to you;

First of all, compared to others who start into their career and might plan to go abroad you have a more solid financial background - e.g. you have an 80k loan but a house, while others have no house but a student loan. So, that's definitely an advantage.

On the other hand, your savings aren't that big (20k doesn't seem a lot to me), thus it is risky because if you don't get a job soon after moving to another country you will be in serious financial trouble.

One question that seems to be crucial to me is the following one: What do you plan to do with your house? Do you want to sell it when you leave the UK or do you want to rent the house such that the rent might suffice to pay your mortgage?

If you sell it - depending on how much you get - you probably have enough cash to survive without getting a job immediately, but you also lose your safety-backup at home.

If you rent it you save your backup and in twelve years you have a good basis for your retirement but you also have to keep in mind that there are some obligations that go hand in hand with owning a house (which might be difficult when you are thousands of kilometers away - so maybe you have someone who can keep an eye on your house?). In addition to this having a mortgage means that you always have some pressure to earn money (especially if you don't have a tenant for a couple of months). You also have to schedule money for reparations.

Since you mentioned that you have a full-stack position as a software-developer now one or two years of working can improve your financial situation dramatically. E.g. you might be able to reduce your mortgage noticeable and increase your savings such that you can lower your overall-risk significantly.

So maybe you can clarify your plans with your house then it might be easier to get a better overview over your situation?

  • Thanks for your answer, I have edited the question with the details: I would prefer to sell the house, as it gives me more cash (will have 40 - 45k in cash) and managing a property from thousands of miles away seems unfeasible at this point. – Cloud Jan 3 at 11:50
  • If I have 40k, that's 20 months... almost 2 years of living expenses. I guess that's enough security?... – Cloud Jan 3 at 11:50
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    @Cloud You can't know how long 40k will last you, until you know what your expenses will be. And you can't know what your expenses will be until you know where you are living - Cost of living between every possible city in Canada, Switzerland, and New Zealand, probably differs by a factor of 5, at least. You might be paying 500 a month or 2k a month for rent, depending on the real estate market in your future city. And at 2k a month for rent alone, 40k won't give you 2 years! I'm not sure you've planned this out very much yet... – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Jan 3 at 14:10
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Be careful of keeping your money in a bank in the foreign country. If the country is risky the banks could go under or even communists could come to power and seize your money. There is also currency risk ( local currency could be devalued )

  • Um.. not sure communists will be taking over any of the countries I've mentioned. This also doesn't answer the question. – Cloud Jan 6 at 10:33

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