Moving to a new country can be both exciting and scary. You get to start a new life and experience new things which you will always fondly remember. But you also can’t predict everything that will happen, so it’s almost impossible to be 100% prepared for the unexpected.
We’ll do our best to make things easy for you. In this guide, we’ll offer you six actionable tips that will make moving abroad easier, safer, and more convenient.
1. Try The Destination First
You’ve been dreaming about moving to this country since you were small. You did the research – you read tons of guides from people who live or moved there, you talked with locals on Facebook, TripAdvisor, and other online communities, and you watched vlogs from other expats who moved there.
Sounds good, but did you actually go there?
It’s very easy to fall into the trap of thinking you found the best destination, and that you don’t need to do a “test run” first.
Before moving to a country, you should always visit it first. See how being there (even if it’s for a short period) actually feels like. Do you like the food? How do you feel about the weather? Is the language barrier okay? What about the prices?
We suggest spending at least two or three weeks there. Ideally, you should spend one or two months – that should be enough to get a feel for how life in that country will actually be like.
2. Use A VPN
Moving to a new country means you might not be able to browse the same sites you used to visit in your home country. That might not sound so bad, but remember – you probably won’t be able to see the same Netflix shows and movies.
For situations like these, we recommend using a VPN. It’s an online service that hides your location by stopping sites from seeing your IP address. It’s extremely easy to use and most VPNs are really cheap.
What’s more, a VPN can encrypt your traffic. That way, hackers can’t exploit weak public WiFi to eavesdrop on your connections and steal sensitive data (like login credentials and payment information).
To find the best tech guides for expats about using a VPN (and more), you should visit ExpatTech. It has tons of useful information about expat VPNs, cybersecurity, and Netflix.
3. Be Minimalistic
It’s surprisingly easy to start hoarding things you don’t need actually need – trinkets that serve as reminders, books you keep telling yourself you’ll re-read again, physical copies of video games, and much more.
While we can see the nostalgic appeal of owning lots of things that remind you of your past (or just the pleasure of owning something you can physically touch), we have to highlight this – when you’ll eventually move to the new location, it will be a huge hassle. You’ll have to pack tons of boxes and pay a lot of fees (you’ll likely have to hire a moving company to help you).
It’s much easier to move to a new country if you downsize. One good place to start is with books and video games – just switch to the digital versions. Only keep the essentials for now. You can always buy other non-essential things after you’re done moving.
4. Learn The Native Language ASAP
Some expats neglect learning the native language because they think they’ll just be able to rely on English.
Don’t get us wrong – you can get by with English in most countries. But you’ll still have a much better time if you learn the native language. You should ideally do it from the first day you get there, but it also helps if you prepare ahead and start leaning it before you even start preparing to move.
Even if you never manage to speak it at a fluent level, it will still help if you can manage a few local expressions and words. It’s also going to be easier to understand the locals too. For example, in Japan, it’s really better to learn Japanese in the long run. While English works too, most natives don’t speak it very well, so you’ll have trouble communicating with them if you only use English.
5. Take Advantage Of Social Networks
Moving to a new country can feel lonely if you don’t know anyone there. While you should definitely use Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more to keep in touch with your friends back home, you should also use these social media channels to meet new people.
Look into groups and pages dedicated to expats living in the country you just moved to. You might find out about various events that are organized for expats like you!
6. Don’t Transfer Money Via Your Bank
You’ll often have to make payments before you actually move – for example, if you have to pay for school, buy a property or pay rent in advance, or transfer retirement income.
In that situation, the easiest solution is to just use your bank, right?
Well, it’s definitely convenient, that’s true. But we wouldn’t call it the most efficient option.
Because using your bank to transfer money will likely be very expensive. You might end up paying up to 5% on foreign exchange margins. What’s more, you might also have to pay additional bank fees for transferring a large amount of money to a different country (if your bank doesn’t have a branch there).
A service like OFX is much cheaper than using your bank.
What Other Tips Would You Add to the List?
Are there other things expats need to keep in mind or do when moving abroad? Please mention them in the comments below. And don’t be afraid to tell us your personal experience with moving to a new country!
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