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With a world that’s ever-more connected, the number of people leaving their home country to move overseas just keeps growing.
Some people who move overseas find a great job and better quality of life, and don’t plan to return home. However, there’s many others who end up returning home earlier than planned.
And truthfully, one reason for this is that moving and living overseas isn’t always that simple.
After all, a move overseas will absolutely take you out of your comfort zone as you dive into a new culture and have to deal with all sorts of bureaucracy, laws, rules, and customs you’ve never heard of or dealt with before. In other words, the more you can know about the process of moving overseas and about your new destination, the better.
So if you have some thoughts of moving overseas, but are still deliberating whether or not to go, take a look at this list of what you should consider before moving overseas below before you make your final decision!
Should I move overseas or not?: 9 factors to consider before moving overseas
- How can you move overseas legally (in other words, what are your visa options)?
- How much money do you have saved to move abroad?
- How do you choose the right city or country to move to?
- What are your job prospects overseas?
- What do you need to be able to rent accommodation overseas?
- How can enroll your children in a school abroad?
- What will you do with your possessions before moving overseas?
- How will you deal with your health while abroad?
- Do you really want to move overseas?
1. How can you move overseas legally (in other words, what are your visa options)?
Frankly, this is probably one of the first questions you should be asking yourself. After all, if there isn’t a way for you to get legal status in the country, then you’ll either have to look at another country or considering holding off on your move overseas.
Basically, you have to figure out how you can live abroad legally. In other words, what visas will allow you to stay and, if possible, also work legally.
Each country will have its own immigration policies, which can make this question a bit tricky. So, before choosing a place to move to, make sure you look into visa options available for citizens of your country.
The most common visa options are:
- Work visas – when you find a job overseas while still in your home country
- Student visa – when you’re accepted to do a course overseas (from a complete degree program to a simple language course)
- Family visa – when you’re married to a foreign citizen
There’s a lot of options beyond this which, as I said, will vary from country to country. For example, some countries have “Investor Visas,” “Retirement Visas,” and “Job Seeker Visas.”
In my article 10 Ways to Live Abroad, I talk in detail about visa options to live overseas and how they all work (including some options you can do with just a tourist visa).
2. How much money do you have saved to move abroad?
Of course, this is one of the most important questions to answer before moving abroad. Moving, even within your own country, can be a big financial investment as you have to pay rent in advance, give a deposit, and potentially buy new furniture or do small renovations.
Since we move so often, we personally always look for places that are already furnished so we don’t have to deal with some of these things. But even doing this, there’s no avoiding the advanced rent and deposit.
Keep in mind that you might also have to wait to find a place to live after you’ve arrived in the country. In which case, you have to make sure you have enough saved to cover an Airbnb or other temporary accommodation while you search for a long-term option.
So, you’ll definitely want to do some financial planning before you go. Think about how much money you’ll have to spend on your first home, apartment, or accommodation, particularly during the time when you’ll still be looking for a job (and thus potentially without any income).
Ideally, you’ll have enough money saved up to last for the first 6-12 months since it may take you some time to get established and find a job (not to mention things always cost more than we expect).
What these 6-12 month savings look like will vary based on where you choose to live. But you can start by researching the cost of living for any place you’re thinking of by Googling “cost of living in X,” finding Facebook groups to ask in (“Expats in X city/country,” “Americans in X city/country”), or looking at blogs from people who live in the area.
3. How do you choose the right city or country to move to?
It should come as no surprise that choosing where you’re actually moving to is quite a big decision. And even while many people may have a general idea of which country they want to live in, they haven’t yet considered the city.
And truly, no matter how small a country may be, the regions can be very different. So to decide the right city or country for you, you should consider all of the following aspects:
Cost of living
Arrange the specific cities/countries you’ve chosen by the cost of living to see if they are aligned with what you’re able to spend.
If you’re on more of a budget, keep in mind that capital cities always have a higher cost of living, while surrounding areas are almost always cheaper.
Find out a bit about the climate of the region you’ve chosen. Will you have to deal with an intense summer or a very snowy winter?
Climate is something that a lot of people find hard to adapt to, so make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into.
Moving to a new country where you won’t be able to communicate can be an extra challenge, so keep this in mind while making your decision.
If you’ve decided to move to a place where you don’t speak the local language, consider taking a language class before you leave so you can some more confidence before your move.
(Or Nikki actually prefers taking 1-one-1 language classes online with websites like Italki and Verbling as she believes these to be more effective and useful than traditional group language classes…you can get $10 in free class credits from Italki here)
Make sure you read up on the culture of each place you’re thinking of moving to so you can decide which fits in best with your lifestyle. No matter what, you’ll have to do some adapting to the local culture. However, it’s much easier to do this when you’re interested in the culture itself and thus can enjoy the new experience.
What’s the health system like in the country you’re moving to? Do they have free, universal coverage? If so, how can you get into and qualify for the system? Or do you need to get an international health insurance plan? If so, take a look at my article about the 3 Best Health Insurance Companies for Immigrants & Expats for some help and to get an idea of the costs.
At the end of the day, choosing which country or city to move to can be a fun experience. Just take a look at all your options and determine the pros and cons of each.
4. What are your job prospects overseas?
This is another important factor to consider not just when you’re choosing where to live, but also when determining if a move overseas is viable in the first place. In other words, are there jobs available in your field outside of your home country and in a language you can speak? Or do you need to branch into another field?
When it comes time to determine this, LinkedIn can be a really great option to find job options in a specific area. Alternatively, if you’re not tied to a specific area, those types of Facebook groups I mentioned above can be great for your search.
When you’re looking into the job market, one thing to keep in mind is that many people believe that the capital cities will have the most job opportunities. This may be true, but this also means there are far more people searching here as well. But often, neighboring cities or smaller cities will also have opportunities with less competition.
Another thing to consider is the validity of your diploma. Many types of degrees won’t be valid in nor give you the capability to work in that field in countries outside of your own. In which case, make sure you know the restrictions around this before you begin applying or even choosing a place to live.
If you’d rather study than begin work, there’s also plenty of courses you can do overseas. From high-school level to language, technical, university, or even PhD courses!
5. What do you need to do to rent accommodation overseas?
One of the first things you’ll need to do when moving to a new place is find an apartment or some type of accommodation. This isn’t usually an easy task, especially if you’re a foreigner.
So your first step here will be to research the average cost of accommodation in the city you’re looking in. This way, you can prepare yourself financially and begin filtering your options better. Also use this time to find out what documents you’ll need for a rental, as well as the websites you can use to search for places.
As you might expect, renting in the capital city will always be more expensive and harder to find. So, it may also be worth looking into cities that are farther away.
What to do about accommodation when you first arrive in a new country if you don’t have a place to live?
For those first few weeks in a country, the easiest option is some type of temporary place to stay, like what you might find on Airbnb. By booking this ahead of time, you’ll have a place to stay when you arrive and you can be a little less stressed while you search for a new home.
To find general accommodation overseas, I recommend taking a look at my article with The 6 Best Websites to Find Hotels, Hostels & Temporary Accommodation.
And to know what some of the other first steps you should take when you move to a new country beyond finding a place to live, take a look at my article with the 16 First Things You Should Do When Moving to a New Country.
This list will be really useful in helping you understand what your first challenges will be in a new country.
6. How can enroll your children in a school abroad?
For anyone who will be moving with a family, local education is something important to consider since you’ll have to enroll your children in a school upon arrival.
However, this process can vary a lot from country to country. So it’s worth thoroughly researching how the education system works in your new home. Find out the equivalent level/grade of where your children are now and what documents are necessary. Often, you can find this information on official government websites.
7. What will you do with your possessions before moving?
Before moving, you’ll also have to determine what you’ll do with your belongings back home since you won’t be able to take everything with you.
You have a few different options here. One option is to sell everything you won’t be bringing with you. And when I say everything, I mean everything. Your fridge, stove, couch, car, clothing, books…this can also be a great way to get some extra cash for the move.
Another option is to donate things you’ll leave behind.
For items with sentimental value that you don’t want to throw out, you can leave them behind in the house of a friend or family member. You can also ship some of them to your new home ahead of time.
If you own an apartment or house back home, it’s probably easiest to rent it rather than to sell it, at least for the first few years. You could have a real estate agent take care of this so you don’t have to worry about it.
Another option is to rent out your place on a temporary basis through a platform like Airbnb to get some extra income. There’s also a few other platforms you could consider beyond Airbnb – my article with the 3 Best Airbnb Alternatives to Rent Out Your Apartment, Room or Home can help.
8. How will you deal with homesickness while abroad?
There’s no way to avoid it – moving overseas can definitely mess with your emotions.
Getting used to this new way of life takes a while and can be quite tiring and draining. Not to mention, you need some time to meet new people and fit in. Beyond this, missing your home country, friends, and family is simply inevitable.
However, there are ways you try to counteract this. Before leaving, speak with people that you spend the most time with about the move. Prepare yourself mentally for the move and simply accept that homesickness is going to be part of it. And don’t see the move as a bad thing, but as a new challenge that you’re taking on.
And of course, take advantage of all the ways to communicate we have today! These days, it’s really not that difficult to speak with people no matter where they are in the world (and video calls can be a big help!).
Just make sure you don’t spend so much time missing home that you forget to go out and experience life and meet new people in your new country!
My article with 11 tips to meet people and make friends while traveling might help you here since these tips work even if you’re living in a new place.
9. Do you really want to move overseas?
Finally, make sure you’re asking and re-asking yourself this question. Moving overseas is a decision that should come from you and isn’t easy.
Don’t feel pressured by people who have moved themselves, by friends who have done it successfully, or even people who encourage you to stay home. Make this your decision.
Based on experience (I’ve lived in some 13 countries and nearly 20 cities), I can say that it’s definitely easier to stick with your routine and stay in your comfort zone. But this won’t change your life. And if a move and a new adventure is what you’re looking for, I think the risk is often worth it.
As they say, it’s better to try and fail than not try at all. At the very least, you’ll have an experience (good or bad) living overseas which will teach you something and help you grow as a person…and isn’t this what life is all about?
I hope going through these 9 considerations have helped you decided if moving overseas is right for you.
This would be a big decision for anyone, and the more prepared you can be, the better and easier your transition will be.
Do you have another question that you think should be asked before deciding to move overseas? Or do you have any other questions or doubts of your own that are preventing you from going? Let us know in the comments below!
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