What You Need to Know About Moving Abroad as an Expat
It might feel like there are a million and one things to do and consider before uprooting your life and moving abroad. The reason it may feel that way, is because it's true – there's a lot to do and think about. Sure, there might not be exactly a million and one things to do, but the list is still pretty lengthy, and it can be hard to know where to start. Even though the thought can be intimidating, there are lots of great reasons for moving abroad, and you should give them serious consideration.
Moving abroad sounds like the adventure of a lifetime, and it definitely can be, but there are a few important choices to make. You need to have as much information a possible before you make the leap to move abroad, so that your decision can be as informed as possible.
Where are you headed?
This is probably the most important question of them all, since it will have an impact on all other decisions. Start off by determining why you want to go abroad. Do you want a better education? Better job opportunities? A safer place to live? Once you've pinpointed this, do some digging into which countries can offer you those opportunities. If that fails, look at this list of the best countries to live in.
What are you going to do?
There are a number of things people do abroad, besides travelling. Some want to work; others want to study. Some people may even want to start their own business while others wish to retire abroad. Knowing what you want to do will help you determine the best country to go to for that purpose, as well as what your next steps are.
You'll need a support system
No matter how independent you are, you'll need some form of support. This can be friends, family, or even an online community. You may think you're ready to leave your life behind and start new, but it will still have an emotional impact on you, which is why having a support system is so important. You need people you can rely on and talk to as you cope with this big change.
It will cost a lot
This is a pretty common fact – moving abroad is by no means cheap. However, it's worth listing it here since many people don't realize exactly how much it costs. Sure, there are the obvious expenses, like visas, plane tickets, and maybe even a house, but there are a bunch of little things that need to be paid as well, and those little things add up. So, if possible, try to have a bit more in your account than you budgeted for, so that you can cushion the blow of unexpected expenses.
There will be a lot of paperwork
You'll have to fill in form after form after form, sometimes multiple times. You'll need to dig your documents out of wherever you're storing them, because you will probably be asked for nearly every single document you own, from identification to reference letters to bank statements. These documents are incredibly important, so make sure you keep track of them at every point in the journey.
It's going to take some time to adjust
No matter how similar your new country is to your previous one, or how well-prepared you think you are, you're still going to have to do some adjusting. And it won't all happen in one day. In fact, getting fully assimilated may take years. Adjusting to a new country is a different experience for each person, so don't be too tough on yourself if you find it harder than you thought.
You'll need to do something with your possessions
One of the major considerations is what you're going to do with all of your belongings – valuable, sentimental, and everything in between. Your two options are leaving them or taking them with you. Both options have pros and cons to them, and what will be best for you will depend on a lot of things, such as whether you can afford a shipping container, whether you already have a house overseas, and how valuable or sentimental your belongings are.
Where exactly are you going to live?
I'm not talking about the country – we've already covered that. I'm talking about which place you'll call home. What can you afford? Do you want to buy or rent? Will you be living alone or with people? In an apartment or house? These are all important questions to ask yourself before moving. Even if you wait until you're abroad to start looking for a place of your own, you'll need to have a general idea of what you want so that you can start budgeting for it and know what to look for once you start house-hunting.