It has finally come! After months or years of patience, hard work, and dedication, you’ve been offered a chance to live and work abroad and to experience a never-to-be-repeated adventure.
After sharing the good news with family, friends, everyone on your contact list including Facebook friends and a few strangers here and there, your anxiety starts to creep in. You aren’t sure what to expect and seem a little confused.
The process of packing your things and moving across the world to a new place, planning, and the associated logistics can be complicated and overwhelming. But with early preparation, you will find the process to be manageable. It’s important to do your research before moving abroad.
Keep reading for 7 key tips every expat needs to know before moving abroad.
1. Money Is Important
Sometimes the excitement of working abroad can be so overwhelming so much so that nothing else matters but moving out. This is why most expats end up going back to their homelands after a few months or years when their expectations are not met.
It is wise to consider all your costs before you leave your country, not after. Work out if you are comfortable to pay for your accommodation, your airfare, the furniture to your new apartment, and others. You will also need to have some extra cash that can sustain you before you start earning.
2. Cost of Living vs Expat’s Salary
The cost of living varies dramatically from one country to another, and the expats may have a difference in pay from the locals.
That’s why when moving to another country, you need to understand the cost of living in that country and try to figure out whether the salary offered will be enough to sustain you and give you the type of life you are expecting.
Consider even small expenses like the cost of making phone calls or the cost of data bundle because they also add up.
Savings are very important and should never be underestimated. The amount you will need depends on the lifestyle you expect to have and your family status.
You can be lucky if your family will be willing to support you while you are still gaining roots. Otherwise, you need to save enough to cover your expenses and, if necessary, to help your family if need be.
Apart from that, there are certain things you will need to pay in the new country that you will need to budget for. These include permits, taxes, legal services, among others.
While saving for all these, consider the currency exchange rate between your country and the new country to know exactly how much can cover all these expenses. If possible, you can have savings that can cover your expenses for between nine months to two years.
4. The Language and Culture
When traveling to a new country, don’t assume that wherever you will be stationed, you will get some people who will understand your language. Sometimes knowing a little of the local language can save your life. So, this is something you need to take seriously.
Start early enough and learn things like greetings, how to ask for directions, how to ask for help, and even how to respond to their questions. If possible, take language training so you can have effective communication with the local community.
Also, try to learn about the culture of the community you are heading to. Learn their history, how they dress, their rules of etiquette, and their social norms. You can also read and learn more about the country in general and learn how to drive internationally because the traffic rules differ from one country to another.
Being familiar with the local language and culture will help you in handling any unforeseen situations that may arise and to integrate easily with your new community. Certain things may seem right in your home country but to this new community, they can be taboos.
5. How to Move Overseas and Stay Healthy
Do not take your health for granted. Moving from one country to another comes with a myriad of health challenges some of which are as a result of the change of environmental conditions and others can be because of the prevalence of certain diseases in some regions.
Find out whether there is any vaccination you may need before traveling to the new country. That aside, find out about the health regulations in the new country and whether you will be entitled to free medical care as an expat or you will need to pay for your medical insurance.
6. Communicating with Family and Friends
There are high chances that you won’t be able to travel to your home country as often as you would wish. If you are moving from one city to another then communication can be easy, but if you get posted in a rural village it may be a great challenge.
It is good to plan ahead how you will keep in touch with your family and friends after moving overseas.
7. Make Copies of All Your Important Documents
Anything can happen when you are traveling. So, ensure you make copies of all your important documents. Keep some copies with your family and have some with you.
It is even better to keep the documents electronically so you can access them anywhere. These documents may include immunization records, birth certificate, driver’s license, passport, national ID, academic certificates, etc.
Life as an Expat Doesn’t Have to Be Difficult
You are going to start a new life as an expat so you must have some high expectations. However, it is good to be psychologically prepared for the challenges you are going to face. Of course, you don’t expect everything to go as you expect.
You need to prepare yourself for some low moments like when you will be having some issues at the workplace when you will be missing your family and friends, or when things seem not to work out well financially. All in all, working abroad is something that many people are looking forward to.
Read more in our blog for more travel tips that will help you have a smooth transition.