There are a multitude of reasons for why one might choose to move abroad. Some follow their dreams of adventure, others find promising job opportunities, some decide to broaden their horizons and pursue school in a different country, and still others might want to move closer to friends or family. Whatever the reason is, moving abroad can be a rewarding and life-changing experience. However, it unfortunately comes with quite a bit of planning and preparation which can prove to be stressful if you don’t have experience in this process. This can become even more difficult when you are moving with your entire family, as each person is sure to have different needs according to life stage.
Every country is different when it comes to immigrating, just like every situation is different, however, there are some universal steps to moving abroad that can help you do it quicker and without the headaches.
- Research- Before you move to a different country, make sure you do your due diligence and research everything from immigration laws, school administration, quality of life, cost of living, and the job market. As difficult as it is to cut off your roots and move elsewhere, it’s even harder to get there and realize that it was the worst decision of your life. Try to immerse yourself in the culture while still at home, if possible, and talk to people who have traveled, worked, or studied in the country you want to move to.
- Apply for Papers- You may plan all you want, but if you don’t get the kind of VISA you need, it’ll all for nothing. Sometimes this paperwork can take months, or even years to process so get all your documents together early in the process. Get a quote for legal, educational, financial and commercial translations because they might be services you’ll have to invest in to file your applications and relevant paperwork.
- Save money- Even if you are moving to a country where the cost of living is lower than where you are right now, saving money for the move is always a good idea. Shipping your belongings can get expensive and you’ll have to buy whatever you can’t bring. Having a “nest egg” is also takes off the pressure of rushing into everything like a job or home. Knowing that you have the flexibility to shop around means that you can make better decisions for the long run.
- Decide What’s Going and What’s Staying- Unless you are moving to a country in driving distance, chances are that you will have to ship your belongings which, as mentioned before, can be very expensive. That will most likely mean that you need to go through all of your stuff and figure out what to do with it. Some options include putting whatever you’re not taking with you in storage, selling it, or giving it away. If you own real estate, you’ll need to arrange for someone to either manage your property, rent it for the time being, or else sell it. This can be a difficult decision to make without having lived in your new home, so perhaps a phased approach is best; start with renting it out and eventually sell it.
- Connect with a Community- It always feels better when you know that someone is on the other side, ready to help if needed. Before you leave, make some connections with groups on the other side, whether those are future co-workers from the job you have secured, an expat group, or even a religious community. Even the thought that there’s someone out there who knows you and is informed of your arrival is a reassuring and comforting thing to have.
No one said moving was easy, especially when you plan to make yourself at home in a different country. But looking at the rates of immigration these days, there was and clearly still is motivation to move to new places and experience new cultures for longer than just a vacation. Benefit from the adventure, the culture, the lifestyle and create memories that will last a lifetime!