Are you thinking about moving abroad? It’s an exciting, but daunting decision.
In the last ten years, I’ve moved abroad twice. My first move was to England. My second move was a return to Canada which , by this point, felt like it could have been a foreign country.
Despite all the planning, previous knowledge and personal connections in each country, moving abroad was an emotionally and financially trying process.
So if you’re thinking of moving abroad, check out my top 11 things to consider before moving abroad before taking the plunge:
- Rights to remain Before you move, make sure to get clearance on your residential status in your new country of residence. Also be sure to check whether there are any permanent residence or citizenship conflicts between your home-state and adopted adopted nation. Not all nations allow their residents to hold dual citizenship or to extend their work VISAs beyond the initial period. Be sure to understand what long-term implications this will have for your future before taking the plunge.
- Employment documentation Before you start work, you’ll need to contact the country’s office of employment and obtain legal documentation giving you the right to work in the country. This process will vary depending on the country, however, you should expect to be interviewed by legal officials who will want to validate your identity.
- Understand the law Never assume a country’s legal system is the same as in your home-country, regardless of how similar or lenient the country may seem. Before you move, research the culture and laws of your adopted nation. Knowing your legal rights and how you to access legal representation will ensure you’re prepared should you be faced with an unexpected situation.
- Access to healthcare This one is particularly important to investigate before you leave your home-state. Be prepared to order private healthcare coverage to cover you during any periods when you’re not covered for healthcare in your adopted country. Also ensure you have funds set aside incase of an emergency.
- Driver’s licence Many countries will allow you to use your own driver’s licence for a limited period of time. However, for long-term stays you will be required to apply for a driver’s licence specific to your new country, before you leave your home nation. If your move is permanent, you will need to apply to transfer your licence to your new country. The application process for this will differ according to the state you’re living in, so be sure to look into it closely to determine how much time, money and effort this will cost.
- Declaring your goods If moving belongings to your new country, you will be required to declare them to customs. Depending on the country’s regulations, you may have to pay custom charges on some items or risk them being confiscated if they’re deemed to be “inappropriate”. If you’re looking to bring electrical items, remember that different countries will use different voltage and plug sockets, so weigh up the cost and benefits of bringing your own items versus buying new or second hand items upon arrival.
- Work/life balance Unless you “live to work”, holidays are important! Around the world, employees’ entitlement to holidays can vary greatly. In Canada, for example, the baseline holiday package (not including public holidays) is generally to 4% holiday pay, which is often equivalent to 2 weeks holiday per year, plus national holidays. In many European countries, workers are entitled to between four and six weeks holiday a year, plus national holidays.
- Government subsidization vs benefit schemes This one is closely linked to your access to healthcare, however, access to a doctor is only one consideration in a wide-array of health related fields which may include dental check-ups, optician visits, sports medicine, rehabilitation treatments and the like. Understanding the price and availability of these services is an important consideration to factor in alongside the cost of living.
- Finding a place to live Don’t assume finding somewhere to live, or negotiating a lease or sale, will operate in the same way as it does in your home country. Do your research before moving and have money available for temporary accommodation if required. University dorms are often good starting places to go to for emergency accommodation if required.
- Acceptable forms of payment Be prepared to carry an international credit card with you for several months, until you’ve been accepted for a country-specific credit card. Even though you may have good credit with the likes of VISA or MasterCard in your home country, it won’t carry over to other regions and you will effectively need to start building your credit score again. If you can’t wait to be accepted for a credit card, then talk to your bank about depositing your own money against a card as assurance.
- Be patient The process of getting settled in a new country can take a while, and not just because of the extensive paperwork. Moving abroad can be an exciting time, but it can also be a time of homesickness and doubt. Make an effort to embrace the culture, meet the locals, and build a new support network to help you get settled in.