What made you fall in love with a foreign country? Was it the white beaches and long summer sunsets? Maybe it was the food and the wine. Perhaps it was the people who always seem more generous and kinder than those back home. At some point you made up your mind: you wanted to move to a foreign country permanently.
But before you contact employers and pack your bags, you need to take a few proactive steps to ensure the move goes smoothly. If you show up without adequate visas, a job, or a plan for food and accommodation, then you’ll likely find your dream turning into a nightmare. So, before you set off, here are a few things you need to consider.
Don’t Delay on Visas
Every country’s immigration laws are different. What might have worked for entry into Vietnam won’t work for entry into Guam. For a while, you’ll need to approach visa applications like they’re your job. Start by getting an accurate picture of the visa timeline. If you’re looking to move to a strict country like the USA, you want to devote at minimum 3 months to the visa process — even then, you’d be cutting it close. Other countries might be a little laxer, but if you sleep on the visa process prepare yourself for disappointment when the big moving day comes.
Make the Move Easier
We all love to hear stories of people who travel without set plans, find incredible people, and build lifelong connections. When it works out, these stories of nomadic wandering are beautiful and often hilarious. However, if you’re looking to move permanently it makes sense to have at least some set idea of your plans before arrival.
While traveling is unique to every person, ensuring you have a clear accommodation and transport plan will reduce some of the moving stress. You might get lucky and connect with the right people at the right time, but leaving accommodation to chance is a major risk. Additionally, customs and immigration services may want to know where you will be staying, so securing a permanent residence before you relocate will help you enter the country.
If you don’t have pre-existing connections in the country you are moving to, set up your accommodation plans at least a month before you fly out. Being proactive also opens up your options: you don’t need to take the first available option, and so you can be choosy about the place you live. Do you want to live on the waterfront? Do you want to live close to the city center? Have you looked into hostels? Is there a particular town or village you want to live in? Maybe you want to take on a renovation project, so you can make your new house feel like a home? By planning early, you can ensure your accommodation will suit your needs.
There is one last factor to consider before you jet out — what state is your current accommodation in? Moving to another country can be expensive, and so the last thing you want is to lose your current deposit — you’ll likely need it! Most fixes, like paint chips or carpet stains, are affordable and can ensure landlords don’t come after you with fines and fees.
As much as you want to leave, you should prepare for the inevitable homesickness you’ll feel after a few weeks. Homesickness is completely normal and usually occurs while you are adapting to your new home. One great way to get through the homesick blues: bring food from your home country with you. Packing your bag with your favorite breakfast cereal or sweet treat can cheer you up and will bring you a sense of comfort. It is surprising how much of a difference food can make, and it certainly makes the transition easier to cope with.
Every country has that bizarre law or regulation which will impact you in unpredictable ways. To plan for these unexpected logistical challenges, research social media communities and read up more via websites like us, Thinking Nomads! It’s easy to join social media platforms and find communities of folks dealing with the same challenges. You’d be surprised how useful a testimonial from someone who has previously made the move can be like Paolo, who successfully moved to the Philippines.
There are three logistical problems you should certainly research before you fly out: phones, transport, and bank accounts. While these considerations aren’t very glamorous, researching them will bring you a sense of security. Knowing you have a phone to communicate, a reliable source of transport for groceries, and a place to keep track of your income will give you a safety net should anything happen.
Getting ready to move to a foreign country can be stressful, and might cause you to mentally seize up more than a few times. In the end, though, making the move your heart longs for is so worth it. In time, you’ll forget about the stress of travel arrangements, and will relax into your new life and a refreshed sense of self.