This is written for people who are seriously thinking of moving abroad to start a new life in another country. It's an increasing trend, and why not? Why spend your whole life in one country, the country of your birth, when there is the whole world to explore?
But whether you're planning a year long break, or an entire retirement abroad, there are many factors to consider before you move to another country completely. And some of those things are not simply to do with admin, tax, income and the actual logistics of international moving and finding a cheap, decent moving company. There is so much more to consider, especially the emotional side of leaving your comfort zone.
Moving to Hawaii, sunning on the beach all day and learning to surf, or sipping fine wine in your cosy Chateau in the south of France. Being totally at peace on a deserted little island near Fuji or going on a lifelong cruise around the Carribean. Who hasn't dreamed of this life at some point?
In the UK alone, more people relocated or emigrated out of the UK in 2008 than ever before. And the number of Americans who move overseas has more than quadrupled in the past thirty years.
The top countries for moving and working abroad for British expats are Australia, Spain, USA, France and Germany. For sure it can be a big and exciting challenge to create a new life abroad in a different country. And for millions who watched the British TV show 'A Place In The Sun', you will know that it is a dream that many people are already living.
Before you make the big plunge and decide to move abroad, there's a book worth reading called The Grown-up's Guide to Running Away from Home. I seriously recommend that you pick up a copy and read it before you begin. It's every moving abroad tip you could wish for, and many other factors you may not realize are essential to consider. Once you've read it, you'll be glad you did before you actually booked your flight! This book contains with all the information and moving abroad checklists including a highly useful moving abroad countdown checklist. Most importantly, the book starts with what I consider to be the key factor - and that's your moving psyche.
Are you ready to move to a new country? Are you going to make the most of your time abroad?
Is everyone in your family prepared to give it a go, or are you simply pushing them into this? Do you know the language, culture and ways of the new country you're moving to? Is there a solid expat community that you might relate to if you have touches of homesickness? Have you thought about any ties you have with your home country that you will need to make arrangements for e.g. sick parents, mortgage, work commitments
Picking your new home abroad
It's not all "Eat, Pray, Love". On the brochure, your beach condo in Hawaii might look isolated enough to feel away from the hustle and bustle, but when you get there, you might find out that the view from the other side shows a busy highway or noisy nightclub on the first floor. It's absolutely vital that you take a visit and actually view the place you're moving to. That's not just your new home, but the area, and local stores, the transport accessibility, ATM, local hospitals and clinics for emergencies and, if you can, try and get to know a few of your neighbors too. Look at this visit as a trial run, NOT a vacation, so that you're looking at all the right things. It's one thing not being near a decent supermarket when you're on holiday and eating out for every meal, it's entirely different when you're actually living in a place.
Obviously, cost might be a factor as well as other considerations such as culture, language and weather. Mexico and Costa Rica have long been favored destinations for Americans wishing to live aboard due to the low cost of living. More recently, Uruguay is becoming South America's best kept secret for expats with its low corruption, beauty, stability and good standard of living. For Brits and other Europeans, a life in the south of France, the island of Greece and the Tuscany region of Italy have always been favorites but there are cheaper options in Slovenia and Croatia. In Asia, the Philippines and Thailand can be cheap and easy to settle in with solid infrastructure, an easy, laidback culture and widely spoken English.
How Are You Going To Pay For Your Big Move Overseas?
Make sure you have at least 6 months of savings before you go (not including the actual costs of moving internationally including bureaucracy/admin costs, international movers, quarantine for your pets if necessary, flights and transportation and deposit on your rental accommodation). And again, try and look into job opportunities abroad in your new country weeks if not months before you actually arrive.
When you arrive in your new place, try not to go crazy buying new stuff or subscribing to services such as cable TV and other subscriptions until you have settled in a bit more. Go for the 30 day rule in which you wait for 30 days before you buy the thing you want. After 30 days, people often find that they no longer desire that item.
Moving All Of Your Stuff
The best international moving companies will give you a free quotation and a range of options. There are full service movers that help you to pack from scratch (i.e. you don't have to lift a finger - a good relocation company will pack your belongings as they are - I once had an international moving company pack my half-open cereal boxes with my spoon in them before I had even finished breakfast!) and unpack them exactly to order - all your books lined up as you had them! In fact, I trust good quality professional movers to pack delicate items such as computers and pottery more than I would trust myself as they have years of experience. Be sure to get moving estimates with detailed breakdowns from at least three of the best moving companies and see what extras they can provide you. My international relocation specialists even gave me a complimentary tour of my new city - showing me supermarkets, the best place to buy baby and kids' items, schools, banks, popular expat hangouts and other practical sights and locations during the first week I arrived. Be ruthless - you don't need to pack all of your stuff, consider selling some items, or leaving others in storage or with family members and friends.
Travel and Work Visas
The best place to look into travel and work visa issues is with the consultate/embassy for the country of choice. Look online for their official websites. Some people mistakenly believe that they have to give up their passport or citizenship when moving abroad - that's not true. You can have permanent or longtime residency status in a country without adopting another nationality and certainly without giving up your existing citizenship.
Keeping In Touch
The internet has made communication across countries and seas just so cheap and convenient. With Skype, Apple iPhone's Face Time and similar VOIP services, you can make free calls to anyone with a computer and an internet connection, and that includes video calls too. And of course, with affordable budget flights, it's not as if you can't fly home for a catch-up with old friends when you want to as well.
There are many factors to consider when moving to another country. But above all, if you look at it as an adventure, a brand new experience, you'll probably find yourself regretting if you didn't take action than if you did. Here's to your new life in your new country!
Other articles you might find useful: