Over 9 million United States citizens live abroad. They moved for various reasons and are doing fine. If all these folks could relocate abroad, why wouldn’t you? If going overseas is your life-long dream, achieving it might be more successful by getting the answer to the question “How to move to another country“.
Moving overseas is often a once-in-a-lifetime chance and requires careful consideration. No one can deny great excitement about being somewhere over there: surrounded by different cultures, languages, lifestyles. Still, the essential factor is being realistic. Simply put, you should learn how to plan your move, organize logistics, and gather all the patience and determination to accomplish this journey smoothly.
What Happens When You Move Overseas?
You’re certainly aware that relocation is a significant change, and it won’t be easy to accept something different. Also, you’re pretty sure why you want to move to your chosen land. If millions have already managed to adjust and succeed, why wouldn’t you too?
But, what things should you be ready for to have your peace? Here they are:
- Dealing with a lot of paperwork
- Being lonely and experiencing homesickness
- Accepting yourself as the “other”
- Breaking the language barrier
- Changing your habits
- Opening and evolving your mind
- Acquiring weird cravings
- Gaining new friends
After Several Years, You Can Apply for Citizenship
Being a stranger in a foreign land doesn’t last forever. How to move to another nation and get permanent residency, and then the citizenship is the central question for all expats. You can qualify for permanent residency if you fulfill some requirements, such as a clean criminal record, a continuous residence for at least a year, enough means of support, passed language exam, etc. However, permanent residents are not citizens.
You have to be a permanent resident for several years (usually five or more), and then you can apply for citizenship or naturalization. A naturalized citizen has all the rights of citizens by birth. Also, many countries recognize dual citizenship, such as Austria, Germany, Japan, Norway, The Netherlands, and Singapore. With dual citizenship, you can freely carry two passports and enjoy all the privileges in both countries.
How to Move to Another Country – Practical Questions of Moving
Are you looking forward to living overseas and feeling terrified at the same time? Don’t worry, it’s normal. Relocating to a foreign land is one of the biggest changes in your life. You should be prepared to deal with a bunch of paperwork and modest knowledge about the prospective nation. But, think about this experience as the opportunity to enrich your life and meet interesting people.
Whether you move for a matter of the heart, business, or something else, one thing is for sure – you should be fully ready for the transition. That will make it much easier and more enjoyable. Our handy tips and practical words of advice can point to important things you should know about how to live in another country.
#1 Can a US Citizen Live in Foreign Land?
Did you know that Americans’ visa-free access to 184 countries makes the US passport one of the most potent passports worldwide? Thanks to its privileges, you can travel, learn, and gather fresh experiences. Many countries have open borders for people coming from the US: Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kuwait, Laos, Lebanon, Rwanda – to mention just a few lesser-known countries.
The better question might be where Americans cannot travel without a visa.
There are some travel hotspots on the list of countries that require visas for US citizens, including Australia, China, Cuba, Brazil, Russia, India, and Turkey. Keep in mind that terms and conditions vary – meaning some countries offer online visas, while others recommend purchasing them beforehand. For example, Australia may offer visas at your departure airport, but it’s much wiser to do that earlier. Countries like Canada or the United Kingdom typically require permits for those who plan to stay longer than 30 to 90 days.
However, if you would like to know exactly what to expect, check Entry Requirements for your chosen destination on the State Department’s website and find out more details.
#2 Prepare All the Necessary Documents Including Medical Ones
All your effort and preparations might be in vain if your passport is not up-to-date, and you don’t have a visa that will allow you to travel to the wanted destination. Problems with visa may cause delays in your departure, and if you need a new passport, make sure to apply for several weeks before your trip.
Besides making copies of documents needed to travel abroad (passport, driver’s license, birth certificate), don’t forget to bring your immunization records. When going across the borders, being up-to-date with relevant vaccinations should be your priority.
#3 Hire International Movers and Schedule the Relocation Date
When it comes to packing and shipping issues, you should contact several companies and get their relocation quotes before hiring the best international movers. Since you’ll be leaving your current nation for good, find out what services each company can handle: packing, dealing with fragile and large items, helping with pets, storage options, and don’t forget to ask about timing guarantees.
Keep in mind that moving during summer or winter is not the same. Be prepared to pay more if you’re relocating during the holidays or in the summer. These periods are usually the time of the year when movers are overbooked, so you should plan your relocation much earlier.
#4 Can You Move Outside the U.S. Without a Job?
If you’re going overseas due to a better job, then you’re the lucky one. But, sometimes, it happens that people relocate, although they have not resolved the work issue. So, if you belong to them, is there room for worries?
How will you survive in Europe or Asia, far away from your homeland and without a regular monthly income? It might be stressful at the beginning, but it’s doable. You should start your job hunting before you arrive in your prospective hometown, not after.
Here are several handy tips on building a network in an unfamiliar city, gaining financial stability, and finding appropriate jobs for Americans in Europe:
- Explore the local job market
- Start networking as soon as possible
- Check out part-time works
- Provide enough cash while looking for a full-time job (at least for three months)
- Pull your school’s alumni database, cultivate these relationships, and grab referrals for job interviews
#5 Think About Your New Home on Time
Large amount of time should go on looking for a place to rent or buy. Do your research on prospective neighborhoods – try to find the one that suits you the most and meet all your requirements.
If your wish is to buy a house or apartment in a foreign land, don’t rush into this process – begin by renting. It gives you an excellent opportunity to weigh out whether you like the chosen location or not.
Also, avoid buying an apartment or house over the Internet, because it’s too risky – you could purchase a real estate property at a very high price and end up unhappy. Make sure to visit the place beforehand, and check out the real estate. This will help you make the right decision for you and your family.
Perhaps the most suitable solution is to buy or rent an apartment or house before the relocation. That will make your life much easier. Purchasing issues in a foreign land might be challenging, so getting a good lawyer should be your priority. Dealing with all fees, taxes, and caveats can be too tiresome for you, but having an expert beside you will be an excellent choice when it comes to words of advice for purchasing your future home.
Buying a house overseas directly from the owner might be difficult for you, especially if you’re not familiar with a country’s real estate market. For that you may hire local real estate agent or property developer.
#6 Set Up Banking Account
When transferring money between the two countries, explore all available options – sometimes, it might be much easier than you imagine. For example, some banks allow transfers to overseas accounts via cell phones.
If you’re unsure whether you will stay abroad permanently, or plan to return someday, you should keep at least one bank account open in your current state. Doing this, you’ll get a lot of benefits – for instance, the longer you have an account open, your credit standing will be better rated.
However, speak with your bank about your prospective nation and access to your money. There might be plenty of challenges and solutions unfamiliar to you, so don’t be afraid to ask a financial adviser about your possibilities.
#7 Bring Only the Most Important Things and Earn Money by Selling Unnecessary Items
Bringing too many boxes and crates with you can be an additional burden and expense. Keep in mind that your international movers probably charge per weight, and even if you don’t give up most of your items, you’ll need to keep them in storage. This, again, costs.
So, consider other possibilities, such as donating or making a garage sale. You won’t have to worry about unnecessary things, and you can earn some extra cash if you find a buyer. Use ad-listing websites and online auction sites to declutter, and try to get as much cash as possible. Every cent matters for your shipping expenses.
#8 What Is the Easiest Country to Relocate?
Every relocation means excitement and a rollercoaster of different emotions. If you’re planning to stay overseas longer, then it’s always good to have a better insight into your future homeland. That’s especially important if it’s totally different from your current region, having unique habits, food, culture, and language. However, if you haven’t decided where to go yet, here are several options to consider where English is widely spoken (or native), and expat communities already flourish:
- Australia and New Zealand
- The UK and Ireland
Choose the Right Country to Relocate
Some people usually already know where they would like to live, saying they’re attracted to the specific city or land. But, if you have several options and are not sure how to choose the right one, don’t worry. The truth is each nation has its own pros and cons, so don’t expect a pie in the sky. Luckily, some factors can have a significant impact on your final decision, and we’ll help you learn more about them so you can assess which ones (factors and countries) should be your priority:
- Cost of living
- Healthcare provisions
Find Out Why Is Your Chosen Destination Unique
Have you heard about culture shock? A person can experience this when relocating to a cultural environment different from one’s own. It can also be described as personal disorientation when experiencing an unfamiliar lifestyle in a strange land. However, culture shock can cause unpleasant and feelings of non-belonging. Also, it can be overcome. As soon as you realize its roots are in an unfamiliar environment that surrounds you, you’ll feel much better. And you’ll find a way to deal with your mood swings and depression.
An excellent way to prevent those situations and mitigate the negative impacts of relocation is to learn more about your prospective nation before you move. Try to learn more about politics, culture, cuisine, and language of your future land, and be ready to immerse yourself into a unique lifestyle as soon as you relocate.
Check Out Visa Requirements for Europe Countries, Such as Germany or Spain
Are you thinking about some of the best cities to live in Europe? If so, with most European countries, you can’t go wrong. The truth is different countries have different visa requirements, costs of living, and general foreign policies. If living in Europe as an American is your goal, you should be well informed about your prospective nation. Germany and Spain have become the most popular ones, mainly due to their high quality of life, excellent worker rights, healthcare system (Germany), and specific laid-back and tranquil daily routines (Spain).
- Germany is one of the best places to live abroad, and if you want to enter its borders, you won’t need a visa. But, moving to Germany for a longer period or permanently, requires applying for a residence permit.
- Spain – Moving to Spain will demand a residence permit, and you can obtain it if you enroll in a school program or after getting a job in Spain. This way, you can stay here for five years, and after that, you’ll acquire the right to apply for permanent residency.
Visa Issues for Other European Countries Worth Relocating
Switzerland, Sweden, the United Kingdom, and Ireland are among the most popular countries among American citizens. Mostly due to their stable economy, great job opportunities, and beautiful scenery. But, let’s have a glimpse into visa requirements for each of these countries:
- Switzerland – US citizens do not need a tourist visa to enter the border, but a valid American passport is required. With a blue passport, they can travel up to 90 days within 180 days without a Schengen visa. There are different requirements for employees, self-employed, international students, retirees, etc. For more information and details, visit the Schengen visa info website.
- Sweden – visa is not required for U.S. citizens if they plan to stay 90 days or less. If working in Sweden is your goal, you must apply for a work permit. To find more about this process or possibility to become a Swedish citizen, visit the website and find all the answers.
- The United Kingdom – relocation here and obtaining a visa is not an easy process unless you have a family or a job waiting for you. And you can move here without a job if you have enough money to support yourself, and if you’re a European citizen, born to British parents or qualifying for one of the many visas. Visit this website and check whether you need a UK visa.
- Ireland – visa is not required for Americans to enter Ireland, just a valid passport. Still, depending on your reasons for the visit, you should check the Department of Justice and Equality website for further details. However, to relocate here, you should have a job offer or employment contract. Or Irish parents. Working visa approval is limited to highly-skilled jobs.
Visa Requirements Outside Europe
Several non-European countries are favorite among Americans due to the smooth relocation and lack of language barriers. Also, they are not too demanding when it comes to obtaining a visa. These are:
- Australia – the easiest way to get a working permit is to find a job before leaving America. The excellent way to do this is to be sponsored by the Australian company, or if your profession is on the skilled occupation list, you have a unique chance to get a permit.
- New Zealand – If you move to New Zealand from the US permanently, you can apply for a skilled migrant visa. After you obtain one, you can work as long as you wish. What’s the catch? You can get this visa thanks to several factors: your age, work experience, and qualifications.
- Canada – US citizens should have a valid passport to enter Canada. Workers who want to get a permanent residence can do that in several ways: for skilled workers – express entry, entrepreneurs – startup visa, and self-employed individuals or farmers. Get more answers by visiting the Government of Canada website.
- Mexico – Americans can easily get the FM3 visa, which allows them to stay in Mexico for over six months. But, for permanent stay, an immigrant visa is required, also known as the FM2. For more information, check out the com website.
Healthcare is a Vital Factor
When relocating abroad, one of the crucial factors is medical care and how it’s organized. So, before you choose the location, do some research about the country’s healthcare and how reliable it is. We’ve put together some basic information about medical services in different countries worldwide, to help you choose the best destination easier:
- The European region is home to some of the most established healthcare systems across the globe. Public healthcare is the usual option, and its standards are generally high. Still, the private sector is on its peak and is suitable for those who want additional services, comfort, and short waiting times. Countries with an excellent healthcare system are Spain, Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, UK, France.
- In Canada, overall healthcare quality ranking is among the best in the world, but there are plenty of taxes and premiums (monthly and yearly) to pay. Still, this nation provides healthcare for everyone, veterans are well cared for, primary care boasts an excellency, etc.
- Mexico – you can expect an efficient and impressive healthcare system here, which includes public and private options. Mexican hospitals boast highly trained, educated, and English-speaking staff.
- Australia – Medicare and the public hospital system is mostly free for all Australians, but most expats are not eligible. So, you have another option – to obtain individual private medical insurance (IPMI).
- New Zealand has a mix of public and private healthcare services, and if expats want to get assistance from the system, they have to get registered with a general practitioner. Also, having a valid work permit or permanent residency is another condition.
Costs of Living and Job Opportunities
Each nation has its advantages and drawbacks, and the truth is you can’t find everything you are looking for in only one nation. Nature, excellent food, and top-notch healthcare are important, but if your monthly income is not enough for all your expenses and leisure time, then looking for another place where you can have all possible comfort is worth trying. So, let’s catch a glimpse at the following countries:
- If you’re attracted to countries where job security and an extremely stable economy are priorities, you should opt for moving to Switzerland.
- Germany is a perfect destination to find a job to your liking, especially in larger cities, such as Munich, Berlin, or Frankfurt, but those cities are pricey. On the other hand, if you’re looking for more affordable and peaceful options, Leipzig or Kiel should be your first choice.
- If breaking the language barrier is one of your significant problems when adjusting to a new country, you can solve your problem by moving to the United Kingdom. Depending on your needs and preferences, you can choose where to live and how expensive each day is going to be. The UK is not cheap at all, but it’s definitely less costly than in the US.
- Although Scandinavian countries are considered appealing to people from all over the world due to their stable economy, excellent healthcare, well-rounded education, and low crime rates, Sweden somehow stands from the others. Moving to Sweden is top choice for many American families.
- Australia – Besides a friendly environment, this destination offers fantastic nature, high quality of life, and an English-speaking ambiance. However, it’s not just a region where you’ll find a low unemployment rate and a stable economy, but some great outdoor spots, primarily on the island of Tasmania. Moving to Australia is preferred by families because it’s safe and has a wide range of educational options. The overall cost of living is 9% higher than in the USA, with Sydney as the most expensive city.
- New Zealand – Everyone speaks English here, and all American expats will tell you that lifestyle is similar to the one in the USA. Some differences, yet, exist. The cost of living is a bit higher in the Land of Kiwis, while income levels are lower. There are plenty of advantages that compensate for these disadvantages – quality welfare, low crime rate, state-sponsored healthcare, and various employment options.
- If you’re looking for the easiest countries to move to (just across the border), Canada and Mexico are among the top ten regions. Whether you want a stable economy, excellent education, or affordable healthcare (Canada) or, on the other hand, laid back lifestyle and low maintenance expenses (Mexico), you can achieve your dreams with relaxed visa requirements.
What About Paying Taxes When Abroad
If you’re an American citizen who lives overseas, you’ll likely need to file a tax return even if you haven’t been in the US for years and earned no money there. If your income for the previous year was above a certain threshold, you have to file IRS Form 1040 and relevant programs. Luckily, the US has tax treaties with lots of foreign countries, so people can avoid double taxation. Before you pack your belongings, do research about these countries and have a peace of mind in your prospective destination.
Hit the Road and Enjoy Your Future Life
Now, when you know how to move to another country and do all the necessary research, you can throw a goodbye party. Uncertainty and expectations will be with you until you reach your prospective destination. After that, you’ll enjoy all the amenities of your future life relaxed and stress-free. And we’re sure our guide will be helpful in your pursuit of happiness.