While there is a certain allure to travelling the world and experiencing new countries and cultures, many people forget that there is a very big difference between being a tourist and an expat. Moving abroad can be highly stressful, but it should always be viewed as an opportunity. To make you initial decision, you need to consider your key reasons for leaving your current country of residence and understand if moving abroad will offer you a better solution.
Being an expat often brings more legal requirements, paperwork, responsibilities and risk. However, the rewards are great, as long as the proper steps are taken beforehand. A long-term stay and potential employment opportunities bring a host of challenges unlike those that domestic workers experience.
Here are five things to consider before travelling or relocating abroad:
Do Research Ahead of Time
Do your homework before moving abroad. Start by doing some independent research to identify which country/countries you’re interested in living in. This research may be time consuming but it’s an essential investment in your future. Official government immigration websites are the best place to get immigration criteria from as there are many commercial immigration sites that may or may not provide you with the correct information.
Wading through all that information can be daunting, so once you’ve identified a likely country/countries you can ask questions and get a lot of help and advice from our individual forums, which cover most regions of the world. You’ll need to be prepared to give non-identifying information such as age, academic qualifications, field of employment and work/career history.
Kerry Hannon, a contributor to Forbes, wrote that there are many responsibilities as an expat, such as getting visas, setting up bank accounts, taxes and the language barrier. Figuring out which country works best for you can help you find a job, open a business, and live safely.
Go on a Vacation
Before becoming an expat, you may want to take an extended vacation as a tourist, Hannon noted. This step could be exactly what you need to figure out which country is the one you want to move to. Spending time abroad will shed light on the pros and cons of a new nation, and it will allow you to really feel confident in buying a home and taking the plunge.
Embrace the Culture
In many countries, business etiquette is quite different than in the U.K. Your home country may be built upon quick meetings, rapid results and a demand for efficiency. However, that may not be the case abroad. Instead, take the time to learn the culture and embrace it. Doing so could help you find work and build a network overseas.
Know Your Rights
Rica Facundo, a contributor to Rappler, wrote that working abroad is often more complicated than the life of a tourist. It requires contracts, paperwork and permits. With that in mind, she recommended that you know your rights before moving overseas. For example, your stay could often be decided by the length of your employee contract. Once that expires, so too does your work permit. Then, you’ll have to find another way to legally stay in the country.
Always Save Money
Facundo explained that working overseas requires a frugal mindset, even for younger adults. The job market in many countries could be volatile, which means it is smart to have a little extra cash nearby in case of emergency.
If you’re looking for English speaking lawyers, doctors or even just need info like contact details of the British Embassy in the country of choice. There’s great information regarding these services and help in general for UK Citizens at the government site: Here
Regardless of your age, there are a number of things that you must seriously consider and put in place to be able to move abroad, including:
- Create a list of the key factors behind wanting to move and prioritise the things most important to you when considering where to live
- Research suitable places you’d like to live, looking at quality of life, employment opportunities, existing expat communities, cost of living and healthcare
- Identify any visa or entry requirements, such as points systems
- Pray about this and talk to family and friends about your options
- Investigate local customs, language barriers and any cultural barriers to entry
- Look at financial sustainability, considering any job opportunities, pension requirements and ensure you have a suitable income. Also consider any currency exchange issues you may have
- Research living arrangements
- Visit potential places you may like to live in advance
- Create a list of pros and cons of moving to a particular country
- Plan your move by using a checklist of the important things you need to do before, during and after your move: Here
** Photo by C Cagnin from Pexels / By expert for expats