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How to Live Abroad – Things to Know Before Moving

Posted How-to / November 9, 2019

If you decide to be one of nearly 9 million Americans living overseas, don’t let anything intimidate you. Consider all benefits and drawbacks and learn how to live abroad so that your decision changes your life only for the better. Follow our guide and carefully organize a move that will soon become the most amazing experience you’ll ever have.

Do Your Homework and Prepare Yourself for the Big Trip

Relocating across the world is literally a life-changing event. You should plan everything, from how to inform your loved ones to which items you should get rid of. In order to stay organized, it would be wise to make a moving overseas checklist with all the necessary tasks and time frames in which they should be finished. Note that it is important not to confuse essential tasks like determining a budget or exploring the state with who to invite to your moving away party.

The Most Common Dilemma – How Can I Move Abroad With No Money?

The questions: “How can I live abroad for 6 months?” and “How can I live in another country for a month?” can be vastly contrasted when it comes to the amount of money you will need to survive. However, one thing is the same – you can’t survive with no money. Going somewhere for a month can’t really be considered a relocation, and it acquires a much lower sum than you would need for a move. Relocating for a longer period of time, however, demands either hefty savings or finding a more or less stable job that will help you afford food and a bed to sleep in.

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Connecting With Other Expats – Find Expat Communities

Living overseas can sometimes get lonely, so it would be good to have people by your side who are in a similar position as you with whom you can connect. Before you step on new land, be sure to explore expat communities in the state of your choosing. Find different online groups and forums, meet friends and ask anything you like.

Suppose you haven’t decided yet where you want to travel and relocate. In that case, expats can help you choose the perfect destination for you, but also explain to you the laws and policies different from those in the States, or help you find the most pet-friendly cities if you are relocating overseas with pets. This is the best way to begin to learn how to move to another country.

Put Your Heart and Mind Into Research

Before you finally decide on the right destination for you, take your time to research its history and culture. Try to explore social standards, cuisine, the ways people like to express themselves, learn about the politics, crime and unemployment rates. Some countries, such as Spain, may be ideal in your mind, with perfect weather, beautiful beaches, and a laid-back attitude, but their unemployment rate could massively affect your decision about relocating there.

Regarding the pandemic situation, be sure to familiarize yourself with each country’s restrictions due to coronavirus and learn how to travel overseas during COVID-19. You don’t want to announce your leaving publicly and have emotional goodbyes only to be stopped at the border.

Overcome Possible Difficulties in Communication

If you are relocating to Canada, for example, you may as well cross this off your checklist right away. English is a world-spread language, so you shouldn’t have any serious difficulties when you travel and relocate (except in countries such as Italy and France, where locals will speak to you in a foreign language only if they absolutely have to).

You can learn a lot about a country’s culture from the language itself. On top of that, you will never be able to fully comprehend a culture without knowing the language. If you are thinking of relocating for a more extended period of time, find a few tips for learning a foreign language and do your best to break the language barrier.

If you need advice on how to start learning a foreign language from home without signing up for courses, watch the following video:

Get Your Visitors International Stay Admission

The most important documents for relocating overseas are your passport and visa, so remember to check the expiration date. If you need to apply for a visa, note that there are several types you can get. These are the most common:

  • A travel visa usually allows for no more than 90 days of stay and is meant for traveling, not relocation. However, it is the easiest one to get, and you can apply for a work visa after you travel and find a job you like at the destination.
  • A study visa might not have an age restriction, so you can use the opportunity of moving overseas to further your education. However, it can be rather expensive, depending on the destination, because you need to pay for your studies. Explore different possibilities of studying overseas on StudyAbroad.
  • A work visa is reserved for an employee who will have a job in a foreign state for a certain period of time. You can apply for this type of visa all by yourself or let the company deal with paperwork but note that you may need to wait for a while before getting it. Try to find a company that will sponsor your visa, which is possible if the nation is experiencing a lack of experts from your field.
  • A working holiday visa allows you to stay in a state for a maximum of 12 months, with the possibility of getting a job that will help you with traveling and living expenses. You won’t need to pay for studies, but there is usually an age limit for applicants.

The process of getting a visa is different from one country to another, so it would be good to contact the country’s embassy and see into it.

Figure Out the Technicalities

All your important documentation needs to be transferred into the place you choose. However, not all of your records will be valid in a foreign country, so note that you may need more time to explore and find suitable options:

  • Health insurance – USA health insurance doesn’t cover medical expenses when moving overseas, so it would be wise to purchase international health insurance. Know that some countries offer free health care services no matter the patient’s citizenship – discover them all before you decide where to move. If you are moving for a job, on the other hand, check with your employer if your insurance is covered.
  • Driving license – in many overseas countries, you are able to drive with just a US license. However, some countries require an International Driving Permit, which you can get with your US license. Remember to renew it if necessary.
  • Bank account – you can use the same account you had in the States, just watch out for foreign conversion fees you may end up paying. Make sure to find out if there are any benefits your bank can offer you when relocating internationally. You can also open a new account if you want to, without too much fuss, but know that you’ll need to pay a fee for money transfers between accounts.

How to Live and Work Abroad – Challenges of Making Money as a Foreigner

With a work visa, your job is secured. Whether you opt for working with a new company or are next in line for employee relocation with your current employer, you won’t waste time finding what is suitable for you. Alongside working on your career and enriching your CV, you will be able to enjoy a different environment and grow as a person.

However, if you don’t find a job prior to your arrival and don’t have savings, getting one will become essential – you don’t want to return to the States with your tail between your legs. If you’ve moved to gain more experience, not boost your career, go for the somewhat informal jobs that can provide you with enough income. Jobs in tourism, catering, or babysitting should be easy to find. If you work as a freelancer in IT, copywriting, or design, you can travel the world and move to any place you want without fearing that you will go bankrupt. So don’t underestimate remote job positions and the benefits you can have from them.

How to Live Abroad Cheap and Save on Food and Accommodation

Having a secured job can save you from a lot of housing expenses, too, if the company that hires you is willing to provide everything. If you are moving for a job, this should be one of the relocation questions to ask the employer.

If that is not the case, you should become more creative. Living in the internet era has made searching for accommodations easier. Not only can you compare housing costs in different neighborhoods, but you can also see the number of offers and opt for the cheapest one. The only thing that you will need to do is book a place before you catch your flight.

Another more creative option is great if you prefer hostels and hotels but don’t want to spend money on them. Ask if the hotel management can provide you with food and accommodation in exchange for cleaning or waitressing services.

What Is the Easiest Country to Move to for American Expats?

Depending on the aspect most appealing to you, there is quite a choice of countries to consider making home. From Uruguay to New Zealand, every nation has something to offer that you may find crucial for moving and staying. Let’s take a look at some of the best choices for Americans.

Canada - For Those Who Are Family-Oriented

Even when we make jokes about Canada and its people, they are based on positive stereotypes about Canadians being nice, friendly, and helpful. Add a free and amazing public school and healthcare system, very low crime rates, and a steady economy, and you will no longer wonder why Canada is one of the best places to live with family. And above all else, you won’t have to think about how to keep in touch with friends – your old home is just over the border. However, you may need to arm yourself with patience because finding a job as a foreigner can be tricky.

Germany - For Those Hungry for Knowledge

One of the top educational systems in the world with universal healthcare coverage, much lower housing costs than in the USA, and economic stability, Germany is the ultimate choice for living in Europe as an American, and it has some of the best cities to live in Europe. You can even travel through the whole Europe if you hire an overseas shipping company and opt for their overseas car shipping services. On the other hand, if you are not ready to learn German, maybe moving to Germany is not for you.

Costa Rica - For Those Yearning for "Pura Vida"

If you are tired of always chasing the standards the Western culture expects you to achieve and want to enjoy a pure, simple life, relocating to Costa Rica is the right option for you. As one of the best places to retire, Costa Rica is known for beautiful beaches and a low cost of living, which can be blurred with high crime rates.

Thailand - For Those Who Seek a Low-Cost Paradise

If you thought that there is no such thing as low-cost tropical heaven, think again. And that is not all – beach towns are even cheaper than urban communities. You won’t even care about the not-so-good educational opportunities if you are moving alone, without kids.

Make Your Relocation Easier by Hiring an International Moving Company

You may lose your nerves just while packing and preparing for a seven-day trip. Imagine what it will feel like having to pack to move overseas to a foreign land and culture. If you want to move efficiently, aside from booking international car shipping, it would be wise to hire a moving service with highly trained professionals experienced in overseas moving. And if you have some delicate objects that need more care or are not sure how to pack when moving overseas, be sure to hire a professional packing service.

How to Live Abroad – Getting the Best Out of Life

Don’t let relocation stress and fear of the new deprive you of all the benefits you could get from international relocation. Always keep in mind your main goal and the reason you decided to move in the first place. There is no denying that you will be like fish out of the sea for a while until you adjust to the new country. But remember – we experience the best things when leaving our comfort zone.

Eva Johnson

Digital nomad born in New York but currently living online, Eva knows everything there is to know about packing and moving.

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