Almost everyone has dreamed of moving abroad. Whether you have been on holiday and wished you never had to leave, or you have simply lived vicariously through the expats you read about or watch on TV, the idea of moving abroad can be an enticing one.
It is easy to have a romanticised idea of living abroad, but moving to another country is not always as easy as it looks. It is not a decision to be taken lightly and there are a lot of things to consider. Below are five of the most important things you should consider when deciding on if you should become an expat, and if so, where you should move to:
- Location and Climate
How often do you need and want to see your friends and family back home? If you are someone who would be miserable not seeing your family at least every other month, you should probably move to a country that is only a few hours away by plane rather than on the other side of the globe.
You need to consider how much money you can set aside for plane tickets, and how much time you are willing and able to take off from work to see your family. If you live on the other side of the world, but you want to see your family for a week every three months, that quickly amounts to 4 weeks of holiday in a year and a big chunk of money spent on plane tickets.
Also, consider the climate of your future home. Not all countries have both hot summers and cold winters, so it is important that you consider what kind of weather you would thrive in: if you hate having to wear shorts in summer and you have a love for skiing, consider Scandinavia as your future home. On the other hand, if you are someone who detests being cold and loves the beach, maybe aim for Southern Europe, like Spain or Portugal.
Do you already speak the language of your chosen country, and if not, is the native language difficult to learn? Are the locals happy to speak English while you get to grips with their language? It can be extremely lonely to live in a country where you do not speak the language – not to mention, difficult to find a job – so it is important that you consider how you will communicate with the locals and whether you will be able to learn the local language.
When you have settled on a country, start your language learning early! Before you move, download some language apps and find somewhere you can take lessons. Your transition into living in another country will go a lot smoother if you are already conversational by the time you get there.
There is a big difference between visiting a country as a tourist and moving there permanently, so before making a move consider whether you think you can fit into the culture of that country. Do you like the way the locals interact with each other? Do you enjoy the food? Would you feel at home in that country?
If you like knowing the name of your local bus driver and having a chat with the person next to you in the queue at the supermarket, you should consider moving to a country with an out-going and personable atmosphere. However, if you like your space, consider moving somewhere else.
Also, remember that different parts of the same country can have different cultures. If you are moving to America and you love city-living and going to the theatre, have a look at flats in New York, but if you love hot days, BBQs and country music, maybe take a look at homes for sale in colleyville tx instead.
- Finances and job security
How are you going to support yourself financially? Have you put money aside for the move? Moving can be expensive, especially if you are moving to another country. Remember that there may be other requirements for renting a property in your chosen country than you are used to; maybe the deposit is larger than what you are used to, maybe you have to pay several months rent up-front because you have never rented in that country before.
Luckily most countries have a demand for English-speakers, and as long as you have any potential work permits in order, you should be able to find and start a job quickly. However, bear in mind that these jobs are often teaching English or providing customer service, and they are usually not particularly well paid. Consider your career in the long-term: will you be able to craft yourself a financially and personally satisfying career in this country?
Moving to another country is not all fun and games. There are a lot of practical requirements to consider, and they differ from country to country. It is extremely important that you look into visa requirements and work permits, as well as what you need to rent a property, drive a car, get a bank account and so on.
Look online and see if you can find someone from your own country that has moved to your future home. The internet is full of blogs and forums run by expats, who are more than happy to give advice and answer any questions you may have.
Bonus tip: Hit the Internet and Make Some Friends
Seeing as you are reading this article, you are probably already doing your research, but have a look around the internet and find expats living in the country you wish to move to. Ask them what surprised them most about living in that country, ask them what they did right and what they wish they had done better during the moving process, and so on.
Better yet: ask them to meet up when you get there! The moving process will go a lot smoother if you have someone there supporting you, who has already gone through it.