Tips for moving to another country….

Scattered boxes inside an office

People move! Whether temporarily or permanently, for family, work, education, political reason, or just seeking greener pastures, it is inevitable. Yet, this comes with so many questions – some which will only be answered through experience.

Moving to another country, especially across the Atlantic is often a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and one that takes careful consideration. Before you lose yourself in the excitement of being in a new place with a different culture and language, it’s important to get realistic first. If you’re thinking of moving to another country, learn how to plan your move, organize logistics, and gather the patience and determination to see through your next journey.

If you’re in this shoe, before you say your goodbyes and pack your bags, there are a few things you have to do before moving.

Make the decision and commit to it.

Writing in a note pad

It seems like such a simple step, but it’s often the one that takes the most mental energy and emotional wrestling – should I go? Where should I go? And when? While there are many reasons for moving, the earlier you can start preparing yourself mentally for the shift, the better. Once the choice to leave is made, everything else flows so much more easily.

Research absolutely everything.

Don’t fall into the trap of jumping on a plane with a plan of figuring it all out when you get there?

A man looking at his laptop
  • Start researching the basics about your new home, including the currency, languages spoken, general history, local food and the layout of the country and city you want to live in.
  • Get more specific with your research by finding stories about what it is like to live there from online forums. This will help you answer questions like- What city would be good to live in? Where would you do your grocery shopping? What is the public transport situation like? Once you get a basic understanding of what your day-to-day life would involve, it would be easier to picture yourself there.
  • Find out the names of local telecom providers and banks. You can even research some of the options and application requirements, so you know what’s needed to have access to connectivity and financial services.
  • If you need a visa, find out what is needed to apply for one and how long you can stay, the conditions and so much more.

Save more money than you think you need.

This is as important as the decision to move. This will become useful especially when the currency of your current country is weaker.

A can of coins and a germinating stem
  • Prepare for costs linked to leaving your current location like penalty fees for cancelling memberships, visas, costs for certifying legal documents. You may also want to pay for shipping or extra luggage on your flight, so you can take more of your possessions with you when you go.
  • Anticipate some start-up costs. Even if you’re walking off the plane into a friend’s guest room or provided accommodation,you may still need to pay for things such as transport to government departments or job interviews, food, phone chip activation fees and airtime, etc.
  • Depending on your situation, you may be able to make sure you have enough cash to get you through by doing things like selling your furniture or car, or staying with family for a few months to cut down on rent.

Get your documents in order.

Getting your documents ready is an important sometimes tedious and frustrating part of emigrating. The requirements will be different depending on where you’re headed and what type of visa or permit you will need, but chances are you will need some basics. 

A Passport
  • Your passport is number one, so make sure it isn’t expiring soon and you have some blank visa pages.
  • Some countries may also require police clearance certificates, bank statements, driving licenses, your travel history and copies of your degree/s and university transcripts. Sometimes they require them to be attested (notarised or certified) by their embassy in your country, to prove that they are legitimate.
  • Try to factor in extra time for getting the paperwork done, as it can take a few weeks and you don’t want to have to delay your departure while you wait. If you can afford it, hiring a trustworthy company which specialises in emigration documents can be a huge stress-reliever at this stage.
  • It’s also a good idea to make sure that you have the original and certified copies of any important documents like birth certificates, marriage certificates that you may need.
  • Your will (if you have one) may need to be updated and adjusted so that it is still valid in your new country. If you don’t have one, it’s something you should look into before you go.
  • Getting some passport-style photos taken before you leave is highly recommended. They’re likely to be needed for ID and membership cards on the other side, and you don’t want to have to track down a photo store just after you arrive in a new city.
  • Have a digital copy of all your paper documents.

Prepare your packing list.

A red suitcase

Most of the people who have ventured abroad have had to pack their possessions into a bag that meets airline limits. If you’re flying economy class, like most of the world, there will be a weight limit of around 30kg (66lb). This is not the time to chuck things in a bag on the night before the flight! 

  • Pack clothing that will suit the climate you’re moving to, and if it comes down to it, give preference to clothes that can be worn in the season you will experience first. You can always buy more clothes later in the year. Apparel that can be worn in multiple seasons and work in are a safe bet too. Wear your heaviest items on the plane.
  • Consider investing in super lightweight luggage if you can afford to upgrade your kit. Some suitcases can weigh 6-8kg when empty – you don’t want to use up your allowance with that.

Accept that there might be setbacks.

Shot of a young woman feeling depressed

Try to accept that there will be situations and consequences beyond your control. Maybe it might take you longer to find a buyer for your car. Maybe it will take longer than you thought to find a job, or for the paperwork to come through. There may be tough days where you question whether you’re doing the right thing, or when you want to give up and just do the easier thing and stay. Expect that there will be some bumps in the road, accept them and above all, try to be gentle with yourself. You’re standing on the brink of a great adventure, and you will get through all the challenges in the end.

What you are about to do is big. You’re moving house and saying goodbye to a place and people you know. You’re probably also leaving your job or starting a new one. Any one of those things would be challenging to go through. All at once, they can be terrifying. But millions of people have survived, and so can you as long as you’re there for the legitimate reasons.

What was your transition experience like? Your story can help someone fare better as they move. Please share in the comment section.

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