By Alexia Wulff
Moving abroad is both exciting and liberating. But leaving your home country for a long period of time can bring challenges unknown to the ordinary traveler. Current and future expats, rejoice: the ultimate guide to moving overseas is here.
1. Do your research
Successful traveling is the product of successful planning. Of course, any move requires research of your proposed destination, but when it comes to a foreign country, the transition will be that much easier once you’ve studied the culture, local norms, history, and geography. Plus, once you arrive, you’ll have something to talk about with the locals.
2. Get your visas sorted
This may seem like a no-brainer, but there are countless stories about people moving abroad without figuring out their visa situation prior to departing. Important questions to ask yourself: How will you work? Study? How long can you stay? Do due diligence, and obtain legal status well ahead of time.
3. Talk with your bank
Financial issues are bound to arise while away, especially if you don’t plan for it beforehand. Speak with your bank – American banks want proof that expats are still US residents to keep their account open – and credit card company about the best options. And make sure to leave photocopies of all of your banking info with a trusted someone before the big move.
4. Speak with an accountant
Taxes are one of the biggest issues most expats face while away from their home country. Talk with a professional who can give you specifications on what documents will be required to file, and how to do so. This will help in the potential issue of double taxation.
5. Bring an unlocked phone
Don’t waste your money on a ‘great overseas plan.’ Get yourself an unlocked phone to bring with you, and purchase a local SIM card when you land. This will save you big bucks.
6. Pack light
This may seem a bit crazy when thinking about packing up your entire life. But living abroad will bring about significant personal changes most people don’t prepare for, including ideas about material goods and priorities. Plus, the less you have to move with, the easier it will be.
7. Give yourself time to settle in
It can take up to six months to feel somewhat at home in your new country. Be patient, and open to the challenges of moving. As with relocating to a new city or town in the US, these things take time.
8. Be prepared for generalizations about Americans
Every culture has their own stereotypes about foreign cultures. And Americans often find themselves the target of many misguided opinions. Don’t take it personally – even US citizens sometimes generalize different types of people and cultures; look at this as a chance to change them.
9. Understand you will miss people back home
Moving abroad requires leaving things behind. This means missing out on weddings, birthdays, and other significant celebrations. And with the spread of social media, it’s easy to get homesick. So keep in touch with close family and friends, but be prepared to lose connections with others.
10. Make local friends
Making friends and establishing a network is key to integrating into a new culture. While it’s easy to gravitate towards American expats, break outside of your comfort zone and mingle with the locals. You’ll end up learning more about your new home, with insight into most things expats wouldn’t otherwise have access to. Plus, these are the people that most likely will help you with everyday challenges – such as finding a job or place to live.
11. Have an open mind
Embarking on a journey in a foreign country is well, foreign. There will be new foods, new customs, new people, and new challenges. Be open to trying new things and taking chances – you’ll be glad you did.