Life is all about seeing new places and experiencing different things. Many of us crave fresh experiences and new surroundings. Moving your life to a different country is an overwhelming experience for many, but the adventure is well worth what it takes to get there.
Whether you’re moving abroad for a job, for someone else, or for the adventure, having a plan will make the transition an easier one. Instead of being crushed by the stresses involved with moving to a new country, plan, organize, and focus on the excitement of changing locations so drastically. It can be a difficult balancing act between stressing enough and stressing too much, but following a few tips can make all the difference.
Visit and Research
Sometimes when you are relocating to a new area it has less to do with choice and more to do with obligation, such as moving for a job, for family, or a significant other. Other times, though, moving out of the country is a decision based on wanderlust. If this is the case, research, research, research! Many expats have advised against moving to a foreign area without at least visiting first in order to have realistic expectations about your new home. Be careful not to romanticize your location and arrive disappointed. If you are unable to visit, do your research. Immerse yourself in the language, the culture, and try outreaching someone from the city you are moving to. There are many sites that allow communication with someone in every country in the world. There will be surprises regardless, but the more research you do the more comfortable you will be with your new surroundings.
Mastering another culture can be difficult if you’ve never been to your new location, but it will be even more difficult if you haven’t done your research. Public transportation will be difficult to learn, try not to offend any locals, and learn some basic etiquette. You’ll be so happy you did your research!
You’re moving to a new country, what do you do with all of your stuff? Answer: get rid of it. It will make your life exponentially easier to get rid of as many things as you can. This can be difficult if your move isn’t permanent, and if that’s the case then it is acceptable to store it, but do not take everything with you. Bring the personal items that are irreplaceable, but everything else can be purchased once you’re over there. Getting rid of your things will help ease the stresses of moving but it will also put some extra money in your pocket for the move. Sell your things online, have a garage sale, or donate your belongings and plan to start replacing things in your new country. If you’re a little reluctant to sell your things, compare the costs and positives and negatives of shipping, storing, and selling and decide what’s best for your move.
Being smart with your finances really depends on each expat’s financial situation and how permanent their move is, but there are a few rules that hold true for many different situations. The first is to keep your bank account in your home country and open one in your new country. This ensures that you’ll be able to tie up any financial loose ends in your home country and also have a banking relationship in your new one. Meet with a financial advisor with cross-border expertise and you will have a safety net of knowledge in how to organize your finances from one country to another.
Be cognizant of exchange rates especially when you still have obligations in your home country. For instance, with economic policy and interest rates changing for the Euro and the dollar, some expats have seen their finances changing significantly. Meeting with your banker, or asking to speak with a banker with cross-border experience, will be a great help with any financial questions you might have, but it’s best to do this well in advance so that you don’t arrive in your new country without available finances.
Before jumping into your new country with two feet, be sure to keep your move organized. Not only will it make the process run smoothly, but it will help to relieve stresses and limit surprises and last minute issues. Research what needs to be done and write down goals with deadlines. There is a lot of paperwork involved with international moves, so it’s best to look into this ahead of time and prepare for the sea of paperwork that could mean the difference between you staying in your home country or moving to your new location. Make doctor’s appointments, research travel insurance, and make sure your visa is in order. Having financial and task goals outlined well before your move will help immensely.
It is easy to get lost in the logistics, paperwork, stress, and organization of your big move overseas. However, the emotional toll that this transition can take on you is vast for many expats. Even if your move is not permanent, leaving family, friends, and a comfortable life that you are familiar with can be hard on you. Build a fortress of emotional support around you with your loved ones in order to stay sane. This can be especially difficult once your move is complete and you are settling in a new country without the same social surroundings. Making new friends can be difficult and keeping relationships with those far away can be just as difficult. Be prepared to miss people, feel lonely, and feel the need to call family regularly.
Wanderlust can be a difficult need to quench, but the hoops are worth jumping through in the end. Experiencing a new location with exotic food, brand new customs, and life changing experiences is something that not many people have the pleasure of living through. When moving to a new country there is an array of emotions involved from excitement, stress, impatience, to fear, but being prepared is the best advice to take in. Research your new home incessantly, minimalize your materialistic belongings, prepare your finances overseas, organize your plans, and recruit some emotional support. Overall, though, being an expat is all about new experiences and reveling in them.
Author bio: Chelsy Ranard is a writer from Montana who is now living in Boise, Idaho. She graduated from the University of Montana in 2012 with her journalism degree. She has spent the last five years travelling for work and is now enjoying staying in one place. She enjoys talk radio, cold coffee, and eating sushi. Follow her on Twitter!