In the last 9 years I have moved to 3 different countries with 3 different languages, none of which I spoke when I arrived. The challenges are enormous and overwhelming so it helps to break them down into bite sized portions.
Here is my to do list when moving to a new place.
1) Find other English speakers. Most countries these days will have a forum where all the English speaking expats hang out. There is usually a wealth of information available on these boards and they often have meet ups as well which is a great way to meet new people.
2) Language schools and exchanges - Learning the local language is essential to have a good time. As much as English speakers would like to believe that EVERYONE speaks our language this is not the case. It’s exhausting and extremely upsetting when you find yourself in a situation where you can’t communicate with another person. You are going to THEIR country. The onus is on you to at least try learning a few words.
3) Job opportunities - Make sure you know what the visa restrictions are when it comes to working. You don’t want to end up thrown in jail. Also ensure that your facts are relevant and up to date. Just because yours friend’s cousins ex girlfriend went to X place 5 years and found a job within 2 weeks doesn’t mean the same is true today. Find out what skills that country might appreciate in an employee. And then find out if you would be able to earn enough to live the lifestyle you would like.
4) Finding a place to live - This can be tricky depending on where you go. A lot of places need some sort of guarantee which can be difficult if you are moving to a new place and you don’t know anyone. Staying in a hostel/hotel for a week or 2 while you get a sense of where the best area to live and costs of rent is a good idea.
5) Budget - BEFORE you go make sure you do extensive research on how much it’s going to cost you. Whether you are going for a short period of time or are planning on moving there indefinitely this is essential. I have met people who have bought one way tickets to a place and when they arrived things haven’t worked out the way that had planned. Don’t let this happen to you!!
6) Political climate – It’s easy to live in our own bubbles and not pay attention to the news but the events happening around us can have a huge impact on our lives whether we are aware of them or not. If a country is going through a period of instability (high unemployment, protests in the streets, civil war, etc) it’s probably not the best time to move there.
I would recommend to anyone who is planning on moving that the best thing to do is RESEARCH and lots of it. Read everything that you can find about this new place that you are planning to live in. Make yourself a budget and add 20% to it. Try to be realistic about the time frame in which you will find a job. Remember there will be a lot of hidden costs such as when renting there is usually a one month security deposit as well as a potential real estate agency fee.
Don’t expect everything to be exactly like you r home country. What makes sense isn’t necessarily the way things work. YOU need to adapt to the new country not the other way around. Go into the situation with an open mind, a return ticket and enough money for at least 3 months and you should be just fine!