As we brace ourselves to move abroad for the second time in a few years, I look back and I know that squeezing our lives into a suitcase and leaving our native country was the best decision that we could have possibly made. Because when you move away, when you turn your life into a journey filled with uncertainty, you grow up in unexpected ways. You face new challenges, you get to know parts of you you didn’t know existed, you’re amazed at yourself and at the world. You learn, you broaden your horizons. You unlearn, and after coming down and embracing a few lessons, you start growing in humility. You evolve. You feel homesick… and you shape memories that will stay with you forever. But before all those amazing things happen there are a few things you need to consider.
* See first five things you need to know before you move abroad here.
6. Language barrier
English is always good to know but it’s not always enough specially when you plan to move in a country where official language is other than English. You may be able to go through daily basic needs but if your aim is to study or start a career, learning the local language is something you just have to do.
If you plan on working it might be a good idea to attend some extra business language classes beforehand as you will probably need a vocabulary that you didn’t learn in school. If you have the possibility, I recommend going for actual classes, but that is obviously a financial consideration. The good old audio&book version works if you have enough discipline or you could find a study buddy whom you teach your native language in return. When you are on the go I like apps like Duolingo.
Do your homework if you are planning on working at your new destination. A lot of countries these days, really try to clamp down on immigrant workers and getting a legal work permit is not as easy as the movie Greencard would have us believe.
If you are an EU citizen planning to move out of EU for a more permanent job, you will usually need to find a company that is willing to sponsor you for a work permit. That is obviously easier organized once you are already there and can meet with potential employers. When negotiating for your salary do ask if they will also pick up the tab for an immigration lawyer. They don’t come cheap, but are seriously handy.
8. The nitty gritty
It may seem a vicious circle – no bank account without a residence, no residence without a job, no job without a cell phone contract and so on. But fear not! In most countries, there will be at least one bank that will allow foreigners to open an account even without permanent residency. Same goes for cell phone contracts, there is usually one company that will take foreigners though the rates might not be the most favorable and for everything else there is prepaid.
As far as finding a flat is concerned Airbnb or only-apartments is your friend for the first few nights. For most flat rentals, you will need to show proof of income and bank statements and a good credit history or have someone to co-sign with you. Until you can get a job and bank sorted I recommend checking local websites for a room first. Usually, those are easier to obtain with being your charming self and a deposit. Whichever option you go for, as per usual, recommendations are your friend – so announce beforehand to friends, family and the world that you are looking for a place to stay.
9. Healthy living
You need health insurance, simple as that. It will be the best money you ever spent and even if you (hopefully) never have to use it, it will buy you the oh-so-priceless peace of mind. Also remember that whether you are traveling for a long time or relocate somewhere permanently you will need regular doctor’s checkups: dentist, gynecologist and ophthalmologist at a minimum.
Wherever you are in the world, don’t find yourself in a situation where you compromise your health because you didn’t want to fork out for insurance – after all, you need that body of yours to conquer the rest of the world.
10. Friends in the making
The question that people ask me most is how I make friends every time I move. The truth is, I never had any problem with this as I am a very social person. I did realize though that while I don’t consider myself a typical Greek I tend to connect easiest with other Mediterraneans and Europeans. It was never a conscious choice, in fact, I much prefer the idea to hang out with locals, but it just happen this way and realized all expats tend to connect easier with each-other.
So while you are out getting acquainted with new people and new surroundings don’t underestimate how where you come from can create an instant connection. Your own country’s local club is usually an excellent place to start.
+1. Home is where the stuff is
One of the best part of moving anywhere is getting rid of stuff. Nothing is more liberating to me than knowing that I truly don’t need a lot of things. But while I gladly got rid of my complete wardrobe, my kitchen supplies and my book collection a few times, there are certain things that are too precious to me. I need them to feel home. Oddly enough that includes a couple of coffee mugs my parents bought me when I left home for the first time for my University studies, a bedding set and some frankincense rocks (don’t even ask…). I do believe that 95% of the things you pack should make sense and the other 5% should just make you happy for no good reason whatsoever.
Images via Pixabay
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