8 Questions to ask yourself before moving abroad
Moving abroad has become common over the past decades. It’s much easier to travel or live overseas than it used to be. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy thing to do in practice. It also doesn’t mean you should just go ahead and do it for the sake of it.
It’s still a significant change and worth thinking about this big decision first. Before you pack your bag, ask yourself these questions.
Why do I want to move overseas?
This question is first because it’s the most important. Do you have clear in your mind your reasons for moving overseas? What are you hoping to get out of the experience? Ideally, this should guide your major choices and actions.
For a lot of people the move is about travel – seeing new places, meeting new people, having new experiences. It can also be about independence. When you arrive you often have to start afresh and build up a new way of living, even if you’re moving with friends or family.
Career is also a big reason for many people. Work opportunities are constantly waxing and waning globally for different industries.
Then there might be specific little things you want to experience. Maybe you love food and want to try delicious local cuisines. Perhaps there’s a language you want to learn. Maybe you love history and want to visit specific places, or join a sports team, or rub shoulders with stars…
If you know why you want to move, you have the chance to shape the experience of a lifetime.
Which country is going to be the most satisfying to live in?
The country you choose – even the city – should be somewhere that’s going to let you live the lifestyle you want. Knowing your priorities is key. If you want a lively city with big music festivals and night clubs, heading to a quiet beach-side village isn’t the best choice for you. The culture and customs of different places can also be surprisingly different, sometimes in small ways you might not think of.
A good way to figure this which country you want to try is by browsing online. Look for the experiences expats and travellers have had in different countries. Research where you can do the things that are most important to you. From there you can narrow it down.
It’s true you may not actually know if a country is a good fit until you’ve moved. Sometimes places don’t turn out to be what you expect. This can be a good thing, a bad thing, or just a thing. But you can prepare. And if things don’t work out and you can’t get no satisfaction, you can leave.
What kind of work will I be able to find?
While some people might move specifically for their career, for others it’s more about the adventure and cultural experience. Whatever the case, you’re going to need to support yourself somehow. Make sure that the kind of work you’re likely to end up doing will allow you to have the overseas experience you’re after.
Check what kind of work is available where you’re moving to. There are some countries that have skills shortages. If you have the right experience, getting a job (and a visa) could be a cinch. Some industries, such as hospitality, also tend to have high turnover and it may be easier for you to get a job. But there are a lot of countries where finding work is enough of a challenge for locals.
Many people try to secure work before they leave. This provides financial security. Your employer may also be able to help with visas, accommodation, and advice about settling in. However, probably even more people look for work when they arrive. Temping and recruitment agencies can be a great help for this, especially if you just need work to tide you over while you find something in your field.
What are my visa options?
There are a lot of visas out there. They all have different restrictions and eligibility requirements. They differ between countries and for different nationalities. Working visas can be one of the stickiest visas to figure out.
Have a look at the government website of the country you’re heading for and see what they have to offer. If you’re under 30 or 35, you may be eligible for a work visa that will let you work full time for one or two years. If you have work experience in an area of skills shortage, you might be able to enter based on your skill set. Sponsored visas are also available in most countries.
Pay attention to the fine print. How long will it take to apply? Where do you have to be when you apply? Will it effect your eligibility for other visas in the future? Are there any restrictions on how much time you can spend out of the country to still be eligible?
What’s it going to be like living abroad?
New country, different culture. There are big things like customs, laws and language. There are little details like how the public transport works and what kind of food you can get. It all stacks up to make your experience of living overseas.
Even in places that speak the same language and have a similar culture, it’s likely you’ll experience some culture shock. It’s still a new location with a new approach towards life. How do people there live? Is that the kind of lifestyle you want? Again, some online research can help.
The environment and climate will also make a difference to your lifestyle. The weather, landscape, and even infrastructure are part of the experience.
What will it cost me to live?
Don’t forget that the costs of daily life differ significantly across countries and cities! Job salary or wages, food, rent, entertainment, and transport are all important when it comes to planning a move abroad. We suggest visiting the Numbeo website to check and compare living costs.
There are always cost-saving tips, of course. That’s one that locals, fellow expats, and the internet may be able to give you pointers on before you leave.
How will I make friends?
Starting up a new life in a new country can be lonely at times. The sooner you start making friends, the easier it will be to settle in.
While expat communities can be a great source of support – they’ve been through this as well – it’s important to make local friends. They can be especially helpful in learning the nuances of social interaction. They’ll also have great tips for living in your new city!
Interest groups, community events, and classes can all be great ways to meet new people.
When do you want to move?
We talk about planning a lot on this blog. That’s because planning your move in advance really does make life much easier.
A lot of things can determine when you move. It could be based around family or friends, work, your age, season, or simply where you’re at in your life.
We generally recommend planning in earnest about three months out (where possible). The bigger the move the more time you’ll need. But at three months, you can start getting moving quotes and figuring out practical details like timing, cost, and what to actually take. We’ve put together a collection of moving tips, and a moving abroad checklist, that can help you plan and prepare.
Decided you want to go for the adventure and need someone to help you move there? Get a free, personalised quote now.