If you weren’t scared off by yesterday’s post about the frustrations and hurdles we’ve encountered while trying to settle into life in Leeds, wonderful! Because living abroad isn’t all frustrations and bureaucracy; it’s actually quite the opposite. It’s fun, it’s exciting, and it’s not something everyone is fortunate enough to experience.
We’re nearly three weeks into our second year abroad and living our second country, and in no way do I consider myself an authority on expat living. Far from it; I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes these past few months, but thankfully, I have picked up a few tips and tricks along the way.
Here are the top 10 things I’d recommend you do before you move abroad:
Research, research, research!
If you do nothing else, let it be research! Research the country and city you want to live in, research the cost of living, the healthcare benefits and the job opportunities. Learn as much as you can about the country you’d like to settle in as this will save you a few unpleasant surprises along the way.
Learn the Language
Even if it’s just the basics, knowing a little bit of the local language will help you with your day-to-day activities. Whether it’s a few lessons or Duolingo, putting in the effort before you go will make a world of difference.
Get Rid of Your Stuff
Furniture, knickknacks, gadgets, anything that doesn’t hold a sentimental value – get rid of it! It’s not worth the money to take it with you, and unless you know all the details of your accommodations, there’s a good chance you won’t even need it. Why not earn a little money towards your future adventure by selling your wares. Trust me, you won’t miss it.
Be realistic about costs, cities, and yourself. If you’re a someone who loves to go out and spend their weekends at the club, maybe don’t move to that small town in the north of Spain and instead consider a more metropolitan area. You won’t have a great experience if you aren’t realistic about your locale and yourself, and who wants to spend their time abroad disappointed.
Find and apply for the right visa for you
This is huge! Most countries have more than one visa option (tourist, work, student, etc.) all with varying rights and criteria. It’s so important that you find the right visa for you and what you hope to do while abroad. If you think you might want to work, apply for a work visa or a visa where it’s an option, don’t apply for a visa that’s just easy to get and hope you can add a work visa supplement on afterwards. Take the time at the outset to cover your bases; it will save you money, time, energy and stress in the long run.
Get your paperwork in order
Make sure your passport is up-to-date, and that you have copies of any relevant docs and details. Bureaucracy can’t be escaped (trust me on this one!) so it’s best to be as prepared as possible because trying to locate original copies of documents and have them shipped to you overseas is not only expensive, but it’s a pain.
Save more money than you think you’ll need
Moving is expensive; it’s best to overestimate how much you’ll need to get set-up, so you’re not put in an uncomfortable financial position if it takes a bit longer than you anticipated to find an apartment (more hotel nights, more meals out). Prepared for and expect the unexpected.
Start looking for accommodations before you go
It’s not always the easiest, but if you can, start looking for accommodations before you leave, setting up appointments so you can hit the ground running once you arrive. Hopefully, this will help you secure a flat as soon as possible, and save you a few hotel/hostel nights.
Go with the flow.
Most things are not going to go according to plan, so why fight it. It might take longer than expected to find an apartment or get a bank account, or your visa might be delayed. Again, it’s just best to go with the flow and expect the unexpected.
Just do it!
With all the steps, hurdles and hoops you have to jump through to make moving abroad a reality, it may seem daunting at the outset. But don’t worry with a little effort and time everything will eventually fall into place. Trust me, it will be awesome!!
Overall, living in a different country can be an amazing experience: having the chance to meet new people, to try new things, and experience a country and a culture on a whole other level. Sounds pretty great, doesn’t it!?
It can be really easy to get caught up in the romantic notions of what living abroad might be, but as we all know fantasies and realities don’t usually match up. With just a little effort, research and preparation at the outset, you can ensure that your transition to your new country will be smooth, and your reality has a chance to be as close to your fantasies as possible.
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Learn more about my living abroad and expat experience by visiting: https://petiteadventures.org/expat-life/
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