If you have ever considered moving to a different country, there's no reason not to start planning and discover if the decision is right for you. Picking up and re-establishing a life abroad may sound overwhelming, but plenty of people decide to make this move and find success. According to the U.S. State Department,an estimated 9 million Americans live overseas. This number includes people who move permanently or temporarily for professional or personal reasons.
Innumerable factors may explain why someone chooses to make the move, but regardless of the reason, today s technology and services make it easier than ever to do so. For example, worldwide communications make distance feel less significant, international travel remains relatively affordable, and reliable long-distance shipping services can make the transition surprisingly smooth and convenient. Moving to a different country might be more manageable thanks to these conveniences. You need to know the steps and find the motivation to carry them through.
The prospect of moving to a different country is both exhilarating and daunting, but it comes with many advantages for those willing to make the leap. Whether you are moving for work, school, or purely personal reasons, living abroad will endow you with unique experiences, such as:
- Immersing yourself in a different culture, learning about the lives of others on a level you could never achieve on a mere vacation.
- Making lasting friendships and building valuable connections around the world.
- Gaining marketable experiences and possibly opening up new job opportunities.
- Providing yourself with a fresh start. It is a chance to reboot your mindset and pivot your life in a new direction.
You can benefit in these ways, even living abroad for a year or less. The key to lasting enrichment is only to commit 100 percent to your new lifestyle. You must meaningfully remove yourself, move your most important possessions out of your old home, and fully immerse yourself in your new one.
Making that plunge into a new lifestyle will take some serious planning, but the steps are relatively straightforward if you think about them one by one. Here are the noteworthy considerations you should make before embarking on your journey.
You may already have a location for your move. That's great if so, and if you remain undecided, you still have the entire world to choose from. Deciding where to move is the first important step; of course, it's not to be taken lightly. You'll need to consider factors such as:
- Opportunities for work or education, depending on your needs.
- Access to housing and the general cost of living.
- Factors related to safety, health care, and financial security in your new life setting.
- Whether or not to move in with roommates and how to get connected.
- Potential for becoming involved in a community, whether that s colleagues, classmates, neighbors, or other people who share similar interests.
- Additional factors affect quality of life, like weather throughout the year, the political climate, or access to entertainment, hobbies, and recreation opportunities.
As is often the case with life's big decisions, money may be the primary factor in determining where you move and cultivating your new lifestyle abroad. Therefore, working out your budget is the second most crucial step in planning.
A financial plan is crucial to success in establishing your life abroad. It would help if you accounted for moving expenses like visa fees, airfare, housing deposits, and the price of international packing and shipping services. In addition, you should estimate the cost of other essentials like food along the way, local transportation in your new city, and the price of furniture or household items you might buy upon arrival.
Along with assuring you can afford these upfront expenses; you should have a solid plan for funding your new lifestyle abroad. Start by researching the cost of living in your new residence, compare this to the prices you're used to, and adjust your regular budget accordingly. Then factor in your projected housing costs and other bills, and make sure that your income or allocated savings can sustain the new life you have envisioned.
You might think signing a lease before you arrive is the best way to move to a new country, but it's often better to get there first and look for housing second. Looking for housing once you arrive means arranging a short-term stay and packing light, saving other to-dos like shipping furniture for a later date. If you can find a temporary rental or stay in a hotel for a while, you ll be much better positioned to find your ideal home once you re already in the country.
Though this may seem like an extra hassle, the delay is often worth it because you can make better housing decisions in person instead of only searching online. Exploring on foot will allow you to get the feel of a neighborhood. You can talk face-to-face with owners, get to know potential roommates, and take your time in finding your ideal new home.
Transferring your possessions across borders is another part of an overseas move that sounds difficult but doesn t have to be complicated. The key is to pare down your belongings to just what can fit in one bedroom or a small studio, keeping the remainder in storage in your home country. Once you have selected the items to accompany you, an international small move service can do the hard work involving shipping and customs clearance, freeing you to travel with no more than a suitcase.
If you need to move furniture, artwork, or anything particularly large or fragile, you should consider a custom crating company to handle your specific needs. This way, professionals can handle the packing, and insurance can cover the unlikely event of damage. Crate shipping is one of the safest methods of shipping large items long-distance, and customizable crating services can accommodate a range of budgets and timelines that you may have for your international move.
Moving to another country will inevitably require some paperwork, and just how much depends on the place to which you're moving. Depending on your situation, you can expect to at least need the following documentation:
- Passport from your home country.
- Proof of current or former residence.
- Birth certificate or adoption papers.
- Proof of vaccinations and other pertinent medical records.
- The right type of visa: examples include a tourist, student, or work visa for your destination country.
To find what you need, visit the U.S. State Department's Learn About Your Destination page. From there, find your destination country's embassy website or contact the embassy directly for more specifics.
Sorting out your finances is a critical component of moving abroad, and you'll need to let your bank in on your plans if you want to avoid complications. If you plan to use any of the same credit cards, debit cards, or other accounts overseas, you should notify your bank of all the countries you plan to visit. Otherwise, your bank could lock your account due to suspicious activity.
You should be conscious of foreign transaction fees and other charges that might apply when using your accounts abroad. Be diligent in learning about these fees and how to minimize them. In addition, find out what process is necessary for closing your bank account, should you decide to do so. You will need to open a bank account in your new country of residence, so you may eventually find that your old one is no longer necessary.
As the day nears to finally depart on your journey, organization is the key to ensuring a smooth trip. Keep a written record of your steps in visa paperwork and financial preparations. Secure all your essential documents in a safe but accessible place. Prepare a list of important contacts like embassies and your insurance carriers. In addition, keep a contact list of family and friends you can rely on, both at home and in your new country of residence.
The more you can prepare for the unexpected, the better off you will be. Obstacles can always arise, but having a backup plan and emergency contact information can make all the difference. Lastly, before you board the plane, double-check all your arrangements, such as airport transfers, accommodation bookings, and shipment schedules. Remember that a hassle-free departure can effectively set the tone for a happy arrival and a successful new chapter abroad.
Upon arrival in a new environment and introduction to a new lifestyle, finding a place in a local community can make all the difference between feeling like an outsider and feeling right at home. Consider possibilities like joining local clubs or sports, attending events, or volunteering with organizations. These activities foster a sense of belonging and provide a catalyst for meeting new people.
When moving to a different country, bringing some of your cherished belongings and elements of your former life is essential for making the transition, but venturing out into new surroundings and forging new friendships are the keys to fully embracing your life abroad.