Country Guides September 20, 2021

How to Move Overseas – 7 Essential Steps in Becoming an Expat

Milly Andrews

Born and raised in Portland, Milly has had a lot of experience moving and writing about the relocation process.

Things worth having don’t come easy. If life as a foreigner is your ultimate goal, know that learning how to move overseas is essential before the act itself. No matter your reasons for moving internationally, the preparation process should be more or less the same. But what should it consist of? If you are not sure about the answer, know that it lies right ahead of you. Just take a little bit of time to read it.

Why is learning how to relocate overseas important? When you decide to move across the world, you are bound to meet different cultures, social practices, and views of life. But even more than that, you’ll be in touch with a place that has laws, rules, regulations, and policies that differ from what you are used to. Living abroad is not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you decide it’s yours, ensure to prepare entirely for what waits ahead.

Research the Country Before Moving Abroad

It should go without saying because you can’t be sure that a place is right for you before researching every important aspect of life in it. It should be done even if your future home is predetermined, in the case of relocation to a new country for love or because your company is expanding across borders. However, the research will be more complex when it’s up to you to pick the location because it implies a comparison between different destinations. Either way, try not to be sloppy, irresponsible, and nonchalant about it. After all, it could severely affect your future and the level of happiness you’ll experience.

Start With Learning About the Culture and Country’s Expat Community

Relocating to Canada, the UK, or even Australia won’t demand you break the language barrier, such as relocation to Hungary would, for instance. Not having to learn a new language could help with adjusting to a new country faster. However, even in nations with English as the official language, a feeling of cultural shock won’t pass you by. The more a nation is culturally different from what you are familiar with, the more days you’ll spend adapting to the new surroundings. For that reason, learning about acceptable social behavior, customs, values, and heritage should be one of the most important things on your relocation abroad checklist.

To learn more about countries with the best expat communities in the world check out the video below.

Consider the Help of Those With Similar Experiences

Another thing that could help with a cultural transition is getting in touch with expats who could share their experiences with you. It could be done even before the move to a new home. Even while in the US, you get a complete insight into the real benefits and disadvantages of living in a particular place. Try to find members on online groups and forums, and don’t be shy with people. You should ask for every information you are curious about. Note also that life in one destination as an expat and as a native could be very dissimilar. It is why you should always consult a live word besides your thorough online research.

Plan Your Finances

How much does it cost to relocate overseas? It is the question most often asked, but know that the answer is not simple. It depends on the country you are relocating to, the international moving company you are hiring, and many other factors. That is why you should be very careful when calculating your relocation budget. Consider even minor expenses such as visa application or travel costs, and choose the suitable shipping option for you. If your goal is to save as much money as possible, know that moving by sea is a more affordable option than moving by air.

Explore the Cost of Living

However, creating a relocation budget also implies exploring the cost of living in a particular destination. Before you move to another home, make sure to become familiar with housing and renting prices, the cost of groceries, utilities, taxes, and so on. Avoid the mistake of moving abroad only to find out that your finances are not suitable for new and higher costs. Bonus tip on how to move abroad: if some destination seems like a dream come true, but its large cities are pretty costly, there is a solution. Consider relocation to areas that are not in the hubs but considerably close to them. They often have much smaller costs.

Moving to Another Country? Free Estimate

Inform Yourself About the Safety

When looking for the best places to live abroad with family, statistics concerning the safety levels and the quality of education should also be researched. The first choices on your list should be peaceful ones, with low crime rates and a high level of political stability. It is a good idea to research the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). It could provide you with the latest data about the country’s safety and help you get informed about any safety emergency in the future.

Education Should Be One of the Top Priorities

Education, on the other hand, is not the worry only for parents. Suppose you wish to relocate abroad alone, as an international student. In that case, you have to gather all the information about student visas, programs, and scholarships before deciding about the best option for yourself.

Visit the Country You Consider to Be Your New Home

It is always a good thing if you could visit a desired location before the move. It will give you an idea of how much time you’ll need to adjust. Also, it could come in handy as an alarm if the adaptation could be very difficult. Even a short trip could paint you a bigger picture of everything, but especially the people. After all, you can’t be sure if some nation is genuinely one of the friendliest countries in the world before finding it out by yourself.

Learn About the Healthcare System

Each of the 195 nations in the world has its public healthcare system, and it’s often very different from what Americans are used to back in the States. Some nations have free universal healthcare for everyone. Still, if you are relocating to Dubai, for example, know that the UAE provides this service only for legal citizens.

Furthermore, in some destinations, you pay healthcare fees through your salary, while in others, there is a co-payment system between patients and the government. Learn about the way healthcare works as well as the quality of service you could expect. If you get information that will be unsatisfactory for you, keep private insurance. Inform yourself if your provider could offer service outside the USA. If not, do your research and select the best private healthcare policy for expats.

France, Germany, and Sweden have some of the most high-quality healthcare systems in the world

Finding a Job as an Answer on How to Move Overseas

It is always better to have a job prepared and secured before relocation. There are several ways it could be done:

  • You could relocate as an employer of your current company,
  • You could work as a digital nomad, or
  • You could find a job before you move – seek online tutorials on finding a job long-distance and update your CV, so you could get as many online interviews as you can.

Keep in mind that different countries have different regulations when it comes to obtaining work visas and permits. When thinking about what is the easiest country to move to because of the work, consider relocating to Seoul and other South Korean cities. Note that an English teacher only has to be from English-speaking areas and have a bachelor’s degree to get a teaching visa in South Korea. On the other hand, many other countries require you to have proof of already existing employment.

Can I Move Overseas Without a Job?

Relocating without a job is a real possibility. Still, it is often reserved for people who wish to travel, explore, and enjoy life more than improve professionally and boost their careers. There are many seasonal and informal jobs suitable for foreign workers who see them just as a means to an end.

On the other hand, you could find a prosperous job after you move to the chosen location while having a travel visa. Note also that some countries, such as Austria, have job-seeking visas for qualified young professionals. Don’t miss visiting countries’ official sites to find out about more options and your qualifications.

If you need some advice on how to get entry-level positions and gain experience after relocating internationally, ensure to watch the following video:

Gather All Necessary Documents

A visa and passport will be the most important documents needed to travel abroad, and you should get them before the relocation date. Know that your passport needs to be valid for at least six months after you move abroad. However, if you live in a foreign location when it expires, it could be renewed at the local USA embassy.

As for visas, after you research the type that suits you, you need to file a visa application. This process is different from one nation to another, so it would be wise to visit an official site or contact embassies for more information. Either way, ensure to prepare enough hours – it could be a long-lasting job.

You should also make space in your checklist for gathering and organizing other essential documents, such as:

  • Birth and marriage certificates,
  • Medical ad vet records, as well as prescriptions,
  • School documentations,
  • Financial and tax records,
  • International driver’s license (if you plan to ship a car abroad)
Don't keep unnecessary papers - throw everything that is not essential

Pick the Right International Relocation Company

If you are one of the many Americans who relocated to a new home even once before, you know what the struggle is. Even if a move to another home means relocating a few boxes with things that could fit in a college dorm, it could give you a lot of headaches. Imagine now what it would be like to move halfway around the globe, and you’ll get an idea why hiring a moving company is more of a need than a preference.

However, ensuring that the company you plan to choose is a legit one is a must. An excellent way to do it is to use the US DOT number provided by the company to check if the company is licensed and insured. It could also be used as a way of looking through a company’s compliance history.

movers working
Choosing trustworthy movers is crucial if you want a successful move

Plan the Packing Process

Even the packing and pre-packing preparations are more complex when it comes to the international move. You may think about retiring and relocating to Argentina or any of the best places to retire in Europe, or you may want to relocate to the UK because of education opportunities. No matter your reasons for the move, its international character demands more planning than you would initially think. So, in order to pack most efficiently, make sure to:

  • Create a correct order of packing by the rooms – start with storage spaces and finish with the rooms you use the most,
  • Gather all the packing material – boxes, bubble wrap, peanut foams, packing paper, and so on,
  • Decide what to pack – there is no better time for the complete declutter of your life than when you are relocating internationally
  • Decide what to do with unwanted items – you could donate them, toss, or sell

Of course, if you deem the packing represents too much of a work for you, don’t hesitate to ask your company about the possibility of getting packing services.

Moving Internationally and Shipment Restrictions

Each of the nations has its restrictions and rules about items that could be imported. Islamic lands, for example, often have regulations concerning the importation of alcohol, pork products, or even religious books. Many countries also have rules about relocating certain animals or breeds. For example, you can’t move live birds to Australia, while crossbreeds of dogs are not permitted in France. Find out if the place you opted for has some specific rules.

Keep in mind at many destinations the import of the following objects is prohibited:

  • Weapons and ammunition,
  • Hazardous items,
  • Drugs,
  • Fireworks,
  • Lithium batteries, and so on.
In Saudi Arabia, you could relocate only one Bible with you

Prepare Yourself (And Others) Mentally and Emotionally

Can you just move to another country? Well, yes, but it wouldn’t be wise. As you could see, this kind of move always demands a lot of time, patience, and planning. However, with all those physical tasks, don’t forget to take care of your mind and emotions. Every relocation is stressful, but a relocation outside the borders is bound to take you as further aways from your comfort zone as possible. Each move, even one to the best cities to live in Europe or any other continent, will be challenging. You can’t change it – but make sure to expect it.

You are not the only one in need of emotional preparation – your loved ones could use one, too. Remember to talk your move through with them and promise to always find a way to keep in touch with friends and family. Knowing that you have a safety net of people behind your back even when there is an ocean apart could do wonders for your adjustment. And that is one of your ultimate goals.

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