So, you’ve decided to take the plunge to move to another country. But have thought about everything you need to do before you go? While living abroad sounds exciting, preparing to uproot your life and move abroad can be a little bit daunting. Fortunately, the process can be made a lot easier and more manageable if you know the right steps.
Ready for the expat life? Read on to find out how to prepare for your new life abroad.
How to prepare to move to another country
Going abroad for a new life comes with so many decisions. Will you sell all of your things or will it be cheaper to ship them all to your new home? What should you do with your existing bank accounts? Will it be easy to get a job in your new city? These are just a few of the questions that you may have to deal with in preparation for your move.
However, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry. There are steps that you can follow to make the process of moving abroad as pain-free as possible. Let’s take a look!
Research, research, and research
Before you go, you should learn as much as you can about the country you’re moving to. This should include the country’s customs, culture, laws, and even the climate.
By doing your research, you will be able to have a better understanding of what to expect and how to better adjust to your new life abroad. Even if you believe that you are already familiar with the country you shouldn’t neglect research, as some information might surprise you.
Additionally, understanding the etiquette of a country can help you navigate social situations better. For example, in some countries it is considered rude to make direct eye contact with someone of a higher social status. While in others, maintaining eye contact is a sign of respect. You can avoid inadvertently offending a local by being aware of such practices.
It is also important to research the cost of living in that country. This way, you will be able to prepare for your move and make your plans accordingly. Knowing how much money you will need in order to live comfortably where you are moving to is vital. After all, you don’t want to become a broke expat! This leads on quite nicely to the next step in this guide.
Save money for your move abroad
Moving abroad can be expensive. There are so many things to pay for. The cost of your accommodation (if your job or employer isn’t covering that), transportation, and general travel costs such as insurance can quickly mount up.
You may also need to pay for the processing fees and other expenses related to securing your visa and work permit. This can come to a considerable amount, especially if you have to hire a lawyer, which is an additional expense.
That is why it is important to save before your trip so that you can pay for these initial expenses and know that you’ll have sufficient money left over for your new life abroad.
How much should you save? This will depend on the cost of living where you’re moving. Some say you should have enough money to cover three months worth of living expenses, while others say six months should be set aside for your move. To help with this you should establish a monthly budget and save enough money for six months worth of expenses before you go. That way you can move with some peace of mind. Failing that, make sure you have enough to cover a flight home and have a little extra saved for incidentals.
Figure out where you’ll live
If your employer is not providing your accommodation, figuring out where to live should be one of the top things to do before anything else. There are a few things to consider when figuring out your housing situation when moving to another country.
The first is whether you want to rent or buy a property. Renting may be the best option if you’re not planning on staying in the country for a long period of time, or if you’re not sure where you want to live yet. Buying local property can be a good option if you’re planning on staying in the country for an extended period of time, or if you have a specific location in mind. However, this can be challenging and is a whole other topic in its own right!
The second thing to consider is what type of housing you’re interested in. Do you want to live in an apartment, house, condo, or something else? Each option has its own set of pros and cons, so it is important to weigh up your options and decide which is best for you. It’s also worth remembering that there are different ways of living around the world. Perhaps in your home country it is common for people to live in houses, whereas in other countries apartment living is more common.
The third thing to consider is your budget. How much can you spend on rent or a mortgage? How much are you willing to compromise on features and amenities? Once you have a budget in mind, it will be easier to narrow down your options.
Make sure your passport is up to date
One of the most important steps to take before jetting off is to make sure that your passport is valid. Some countries require your passport to be valid for at least six months before you final travel date. It’s therefore worth checking the passport validity requirements of different countries. If you’re unsure, just get it renewed as soon as possible if it is close to expiring. And if you don’t have a passport apply for one today!
Apply for a visa if you need one
Depending on where you’re moving to, and what country you’re from, you may need to get a visa. This can be one of the most difficult steps for budding expats, as you’re often left with a nerve-wracking wait to see if your visa application gets approved.
With that in mind, you should apply for the necessary visa you need to enter and work in your new country of residence as soon as possible. Some countries can take a little longer to process your visa than others so you want to stay ahead of the game.
How hard it is to get a visa will depend upon the country you’re applying to and if you have any help during the process. For example, if you have assistance from your employer, or one of the many companies who deal with visa applications on your behalf, it can make things a lot easier.
Alternatively, if you want to avoid the whole visa process as much as possible you could just move somewhere on a tourist visa. Many countries in Latin America and South East Asia are great for this. You’ll often be granted a three month stay and you can reset this simply by leaving the country and coming back again. This is what is referred to as a visa run in expat circles. Just make sure you’re adhering to the law and wherever you go keep your paperwork in order.
Get your other documents in order
Depending on where you’re moving to, you may need other documentation in addition to your passport and visa. This could be proof of vaccines or a criminal background check. Be sure to check with the embassy or consulate of your new country of residence to find out what else you may need.
You’ll also need to make sure that you have all the necessary records and information with you when you move. This includes things like your birth certificate, driving license, tax returns, financial records, and any other important papers. Keep all of these items in a safe place so you can easily access them when needed. Once you leave your home country, securing these records will become extremely difficult unless you have someone that can take care of them for you back home.
Finally, you should make sure that all of these documents are up-to-date and in good standing. Failure to do so could cause delays or problems when you try to start life your new life abroad.
Sort out your finances and bank accounts
While you’ll probably open a new bank account abroad for your new job, you should also think about what to do with your current bank accounts and other financial assets back home.
If you have a bank account in your home country, you’ll need to decide whether to close it or keep it open. If your bank back home handles international transactions and has reasonable fees, it may be worth keeping your account open and using it for your overseas transactions. This can be a convenient option, as you’ll already be familiar with your bank’s online banking platform and customer service.
It can also be worth keeping your existing bank open if you intend to send money home. There are ways of doing this now where you can significantly cut down on bank charges and foreign exchange transaction fees.
If you decide to open a new bank account abroad, your employer might be able to help you set that up. If not, a lawyer or your embassy can also give you some guidance.
In choosing the right bank, you’ll have to do a bit of research. Reading up on what the different banks offer will help you find one that will fit your needs. Consider things like whether you want a local or international bank, what kind of fees they charge, and what type of account would be best for you.
When you’ve found a bank you’d like to open an account with, they will require some documents from you. Make sure you have things like your passport, proof of address, and any other relevant documentation handy so that you can go through the application process quickly and easily.
You’ll also need to figure out what to do with any other assets you have, such as investments or property. You may want to sell them before you move, or you may want to keep them and rent them out.
Once you’ve sorted out your finances, you’ll be able to focus on other aspects of your move, such as finding a place to live and getting a job if you don’t already have one lined up.
Think about your medical needs
Looking after your health and providing for your medical needs should be one of your priorities when moving to another country. First, schedule a check-up with your doctor to make sure you’re in good health before making the move. Check you’re up-to-date on all your vaccinations. You may also need to get certain vaccinations depending on where you’re going.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to stock up on any prescription medications you take, as well as over-the-counter medicines for things like colds and headaches. Buying these medications abroad may be challenging especially if they are not available in the new country. However, you can always try buying from mail-order pharmacies or online retailers that specialize in international shipping (just proceed with caution).
You should always check the regulations for bringing medications into the country you are moving to. Some countries have restrictions on certain types of medication, so it’s important to be aware of these before you travel. You don’t want to end up in a prison cell for bringing any medicine with you that is deemed illegal.
Finally, be sure to pack any medical records and copies of prescriptions, as well as the contact information for your current doctor. In case of a medical emergency, this will be vital information for doctors in your new country. If you have any chronic conditions or allergies, it can also be a good idea to wear a medical alert bracelet or necklace.
Decide what to do with your belongings
Find out what your options are for getting your belongings to your new home. You will need to calculate the costs of each option and see which choice will fit your needs and budget.
Because cost can be very limiting, choose to ship only those things that you definitely won’t be able to live without. While you may love your comfy couch, it can cost hundreds of dollars to ship that to your new home.
If you are moving permanently, consider selling the things that you cannot afford to transport. The money that you will earn from selling your cabinets, bed, and other big items can go to buying new furniture for your new home.
However, before you sell your belongings, make sure that you already know where you can buy their replacements in the country you’ll be moving to. It’s good to know where to buy things like furniture, kitchen appliances, and bedding before going. If the stores abroad have an online shop, check out the prices of the items that you’ll need so you have an idea of how much you need to spend.
If you have sentimental items that you cannot let go of, or have plans of coming back in the future, you should consider storing them. There are plenty of facilities that offer storage services.
Figure out your transportation situation
Another thing that you should figure out before your departure is how you are going to get around your new city. First, you need to decide if you want to bring your own vehicle or if you’re going to use public transportation.
If you’re going to bring your own vehicle abroad, you need to make sure that it is legal to drive in the country you’re moving to. You also need to find out if there are any restrictions on bringing a vehicle into the country.
If you’re going to use local public transportation, you need to research the options and find out what is available in the area you’re moving to. You also need to consider the cost of public transportation and whether or not it is affordable for you.
Reach out to some people who are already there
Before moving abroad, it might help to contact people who already live in the country you are moving to. There are several benefits to this, such as getting advice on where to live and what to expect when moving. Your contact may also direct you towards the best place to buy or get the things you need. Additionally, they can help with things like finding a job (if you don’t have one yet) and making new friends in the new country.
If you don’t have any friends or family that live in that country, you can also try connecting with other people already there. There are a number of great expat groups on Facebook and you can also try using other social media or online forums dedicated to people who have made the move. Additionally, your local embassy or consulate might be able to put you in touch with someone in the community that can help you get settled.
Learn the language of your new country of residence
While it may not be possible to become totally fluent in the language of your new country of residence by the time you move abroad, it is still beneficial to learn as much as you can. Knowing the most common phrases you need is going to help make the move smoother.
There’s no getting around the fact that if you’re able to talk to the locals it’s going to make your life much easier. You’ll be able to ask for directions, find out about events happening in the area, and learn about the culture and customs of your new home.
In addition, having a good grasp of the language will likely improve your job prospects if you are still seeking employment. Companies are often more interested in candidates who can speak the local language fluently.
Finally, learning the language will give you a better chance of making friends in your new area. People are often more receptive to those who make an effort to learn their language and culture.
Book a flight
Once you’ve chosen your destination, got your finances in order and have a visa sorted (if you need one), it’s time to book a flight! The main decision here is do you book a single or a return flight? If you’re thinking about a visit home it can often be worth booking a return as it may save you some money. Speaking of which, when booking your flight it’s always worth checking out companies like Skyscanner to find the cheapest flights.
Take out reliable travel insurance
If you’ve already secured a job to work abroad, insurance may well be included as part of your package. Nevertheless, this is something that is always worth checking, because if it’s not included, or if you don’t yet have a job, taking out insurance is something that you should strongly consider.
When you travel around the world, each country is different. The levels of assistance you can receive in the event of an emergency will vary. By having travel insurance you get that extra layer of support just in case something does go wrong.
Say your goodbyes
Today, with the Internet and mobile phones, staying in contact with people back home is a lot easier than it used to be. You therefore might not be compelled to say your goodbyes to close friends and family. However, this step can help you mentally prepare for your move abroad. Plus, it is a great opportunity to show your appreciation to the people who were there for you prior to your big move.
When saying goodbye to your friends and family it’s important to do so in a way that is respectful and meaningful. You may want to have a going away party, or simply spend time with each person individually. Whatever you do, make sure to express your gratitude for their support and friendship, and let them know how much you’ll miss them.
Conclusion: Ready to move to another country?
There are many things to consider when preparing to move to another country. You’ll need to research the destination, make sure all your travel documents are in order, and arrange for your housing and transportation among other things.
Before you go, you should also be aware of the culture shock that may come with living abroad and be prepared for any challenges that may arise. However, with proper planning and preparation, the experience of moving to a new country can be an exciting and rewarding one. For many it is both life changing and life defining, so if you get the opportunity grasp it with both hands.