As someone who has moved abroad many times over many countries no matter where I go I always have to make adjustments in my life that most people would never think about if they want to live in another country so I put together a list of 10 common things to consider before you move abroad. If you are planning to move abroad now is the time to sit down and really ask yourself if you are really up to the challenge of your life. Living in a foreign country is not easy and there is a lot of work you need to do in your first few years abroad before you start to begin to feel settled in. Before you sell off your property and say goodbye to your friends and family here are the hard questions to ask yourself to be sure you are ready for a move abroad.
Why are you moving abroad?
Most people move abroad for love or jobs. The majority of us brave souls that dare to go overseas for love or money, generally do it because the grass is greener. And the truth is, it is usually somewhere in-between. While it can be a little greener for some people it can also be disappointing for others. Understanding why you are going in the first place will help you weigh some of the risk you take when you move abroad.
If your motivation is to take a job in another country for a larger salary or opportunity, there are often hidden cost and cultural cross points you may be unaware of. Salaries for example, are often paid in the local currency and according to the local pay scales. 700 USD a month is a good salary in the Philippian Islands for example, but you need to think about if it will be acceptable for your lifestyle. Even if the cost of living is dirt cheap, will you be able to put money in your savings account, buy plane tickets home and pay for additional medical cost on that salary?
How will you deal with keeping in touch with your family?
Everyone that moves overseas thinks email and Skype are all they will need to keep in touch with their family everyday. But what happens when your family members get married, divorced, get sick or big events take place? You might end up missing quite a few things going on back home. If staying close to your family is important, ask yourself if going abroad is right for you and how will you handle missing those important moments.
How much extra cash do you have for your first year?
Your going to need a lot of extra cash the first year when you move abroad because there are always unexpected cost that pop up or exciting places you would like to go visit. Moving cost, transportation, entertainment or deposits can eat up a lot of pocket money so make sure your covered at least 5,000 more than you think you will need.
What to take and leave behind
I have heard people move the strangest things because they had no real idea what they actually needed to take. If you like the quality or craftsmanship of house wares from your home country then by all means take it if you have a good moving budget to work with. But here are some of the items you might want to leave behind and buy later.
Beds-You can leave your bed and often bed linen unless you have a large moving budget, beds sizes and measurements and bed linens are almost always different in each country.
Appliances-Leave almost everything that has a plug behind. Electricity voltage and plug fittings are usually different in every country. Some countries that have irregular electricity, such as in India, may destroy your expensive electrical appliances.
Kitchen ware- Is generally better and less expensive to buy than to ship.
TV –If there are any differences in voltage in power supply leave it behind. Even with a power adapter they often end up damaged from the use of a power converter.
Take computers and laptops- They have power adapters built in so no need to leave them behind.
Take quality shoes, outerwear, and handy gadgets. You never know if you will be able to find the right shoes or jackets you prefer at an affordable price. Also gadgets like a good can opener, a well made corkscrew, or handy air pump always seem to be impossible to find when you really need it.
Language is everything
Ask yourself if you are up to the challenge of learning a new language. Learning the language is the most important part of successfully integrating into a life abroad and not to be taken lightly. If you are moving to a country that does not speak your language then be prepared to learn the local language. Don’t assume everyone will try to speak to you in your language. If you want to meet people, become a part of the community, conduct business and live a normal life you have to adapt.
Method of transportation
Ask yourself how will you get around by public train, buy a car, use a taxi? If you normally do this every day to go to work or get around then it should be no problem. If not, plan on extra expenses for getting a new drivers license, and transportation cost.
Can you cope with being the foreigner?
Who wants to feel like a stranger every day of their life? But this unfortunately is what it is like to be an expat living abroad. You need to be able to cope with being the foreigner and somehow keep your balance and accept it.
When you are no longer living in your home country, it could mean you may look different then the rest of the neighborhood or have a different accent and get funny stares in the supermarket because you asked for something and people don’t know what you are talking about. People comment on what you eat on your bread or just about everything you do. After a while being a little different can begin to give you stress. Are you the kind of person that can cope with being the foreigner?
What keeps you going makes you stronger.
Are you self motivated and able to stay active? Starting your life over again from scratch isn’t easy and has a lot of ups and downs. When I’m feeling down or homesick to keep myself going I found that having a hobby, playing sports or making regular travel plans to explore the world around me kept me focused on why I moved in the first place.
How well do you deal with discrimination?
Can you deal with being discriminated against? Discrimination is a tough sensitive subject some of us run across and experience from time to time across all parts of the world. Discrimination of any kind in any situation can flatten anyone. But just remember it happens everywhere even in your home country. Its part of life we all have to deal with no matter where we are, but how we deal with it makes us who we are.
Plan B, how will you return home?
Sometimes life abroad did not turn out as you had hoped and its time to go home. It might have been easy selling it all and starting over but to do it again is draining financially and emotionally. Before you move abroad know what you are getting into and leave yourself a plan on how to get out.