In this post you’ll learn everything you need to know about how to move to another country.
Moving internationally is very exciting. Even if you are just thinking about moving abroad, by researching what you need to do, you are one step ahead to make this idea come true.
Starting all over again in a new country might seem overwhelming but it is a completely manageable process. Don’t panic!
As someone who has moved internationally 3 times, I’m here to teach you what you need to organize for moving abroad.
So if you want to move abroad and don’t know where to start, this ultimate guide is for you. These are tips any new expat can follow prior to moving anywhere.
How to move to another country:
Before you are ready to pack your bags, you need to go over logistics on how to move to another country.
We will discuss how to take care of the following responsibilities:
- Visa paperwork
- Passport status
- Health care
- Legal contracts
- Housing and managing expectations
These are the most important things that should be managed prior to arriving in the new country.
Set your finances up right
Moving anywhere can quickly add up, now add in international costs and even if the country abroad is cheaper, it can get expensive.
It is crucial to have a cushion to financially prepare for the unexpected. Things don’t always go as planned.
Have money for things that might come up, this way, when and if they do, you are not scratching the surface and you’re prepared.
Saving money is important in all aspects of life, this situation is no different.
So, how much does it cost to move to another country? Well, it depends, there’s not a one size fits all answer. If you know where you are going, that certainly helps.
It depends what you are going to need there, social activities, what you already have, your job, and the cost of living (rent, groceries, transportation, healthcare).
I would recommend thoroughly researching the cost of living and visiting a few times. This way you have an idea if it will work out and you truly understand day to day costs and price of living.
Because you will be moving somewhere foreign, you have to take conversion fees, non atm fees, and more into account. To learn more about this you can read my guide on managing money abroad.
Be realistic with future commitments
Financial bank Capital one gives a rule of thumb that your income should be 3x your rent.
Acceptable Example: $3,000 monthly income, $1,000 rent.
If you can lower that rent number, you’ll be in even better shape.
Before committing to things financially, be realistic and take into account all of your future expenses.
Common expenses every adult pays for is: rent, electricity, water, phone, transportation, food, and wifi. If you will have a car, add car insurance, gas, car payment (if its not paid off) and car maintenance.
Pro tip: You don’t want to arrive somewhere new and be strapped for cash. It is a new place, you’re going to want to experience it.
Unfortunately, the majority of experiences aren’t free. This means, definitely save money for a social life too.
Let’s face it, you’re not going to move to a new place, to stay inside.
Which leads things to my next point. Money experts advise for adults moving out to have at least 6 months of expenses saved up.
This should be the absolute bare minimum, especially if you won’t be working abroad right away.
When speaking on how to move to another country, I would personally try to shoot for a year of savings, if you can!
The more money, the better. It’s not like more money will ever be a bad thing.
Get your visa
What visa do you need to apply for?
There are many different kinds of visas. There are: tourist visas, work visas, student visas, spousal visas, working holiday visas, refugee visas, and more.
Who would’ve thought so many visas out there?
How to apply for a visa isn’t as complicated as it seems. You have 2 options to start your search, research your native embassy website, or start with the foreign country’s official government website.
Head over to their visas section and investigate what paperwork you need to provide for your visa application.
If you are not sure ask a lawyer or someone who works in the embassy or immigration to help you. Even if they don’t give you exact answers, they will point you in the right direction.
Finances for visas
As soon as you know what visa you need, you can work on this accordingly.
Visas and finances usually go hand in hand. Some visas require you to be able to prove you can financially support yourself.
For example, the majority of universities abroad request you to have a certain amount of money with you. This is to prove you can sustain yourself throughout your studies.
No country grants foreigners visas if they seem to be a risk of going homeless or other unfortunate well being situations.
So how much do you need? The amount depends on the university and country. If you are studying abroad, this is something you will have to look into prior to applying for visas.
Already know where you want to go to school ? Amazing! One step ahead.
Other visas outside of student visas, such as freelancing work visas, also require you to have a proof of income and sometimes a work contract.
What type of finances and paperwork you will need depends on your specific visa for your specific situation.
Find what you need and get it done step by step.
Check your passport
It is important to know your passport status. Reason being, some countries demand you have at least 6 months valid after your first departure travel date, (i.e going to destination)
You will also need a passport that is valid for some time for your visa paperwork. Give yourself ideally 3-12 months before you leave to manage visa paperwork, visas can take time to process.
Trust, it is a lot to organize so the more time you have, the less stress it will be!
Get your passport with time if it is expiring soon. When you are away, if it happens to expire abroad, you can go to your local embassy to apply for a new one.
This can take time so please take that into account.
If you’ve never had your passport, investigate how to get one. There are places that do expedites but try to save yourself the headache of rushing and hurrying to meet deadlines.
What are you going to do if you get sick? Insurance is so important, especially the older you get. There are a few ways you can go about health insurance in a foreign place. Here are the options:
- You can get insured through your employer
- pay for private insurance in the foreign place
- get pubic health insurance through visa
- have travel insurance, (read terms and conditions to make sure they cover you at new place)
- you can pay out of pocket on a needed basis
I would recommend to get private health insurance if you don’t have a formal employer and if you don’t quality for public health insurance.
Surprisingly, private insurance in a lot of countries, specifically in Europe are super, duper cheap.
You can also get public health insurance that is free once your visa is granted, there is usually a window of when it kicks in and you can go to the doctor.
If you are not sure how public health insurance works in your new place, ask the embassy or a local friend to help.
Whatever you do, make sure you have some type of idea of coverage once you get there, health care is important!
Current contracts prior to moving
If you are very young and planning on moving to another country, you probably won’t have to do much to leave.
Moving to another country at 19 years old, is different than moving at 45. For example, you probably won’t have to sell your house and get your family visas, too.
If you still live with your parents, that is even better for you.
Nevertheless, if you are living in an apartment with a landlord, make sure you are aware of repercussions if you break your current lease. When you have legal contracts for things, leaving abruptly might cost you.
If you have a car, what are you going to do with that? What about a lease? Read the fine print in these situations.
This can call for financial regret if you move too quick. Ask a parent or someone you truly trust if you feel like you don’t know what you are doing.
Can you afford to lose out on your security deposit or handing in a leased car earlier? In most countries the security deposit for rent is 1 ½ months of rent. Not everyone wants to to lose out on that.
In addition, handing in a leased car early is a fast track to damage your credit. Weigh out the pros and cons to this.
Maybe you are moving somewhere very cheap, and if that is the case, abruptly moving will save more than 1 ½ month or car payments.
Figure out the logistics and decide what is best for you and your plan.
Phone and other contracts in the foreign place
An important step on how to move to another country is getting contracts and logistics in order.
Stay true to your goals and don’t sign up for commitments you can’t fulfill.
This is regarding signing up for long contracts such as long apartment contracts, gym memberships, and phone contracts that aren’t as easy to cancel for foreigners as 1,2,3.
These type of contracts can come with fees – as always, read the fine print.
Being that we are in the year 2021, moving abroad now doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice your native digits. That is, if you don’t want to! T-mobile in the US is great with that.
Worst case scenario you can jailbreak an old cell phone for a price and get a sim card at the new place. This can be ideal if you don’t have a way to get a phone contract and will definitely need a new phone number.
We must touch on housing because where we place our heads at night is incredibly important.
If T-mobile isn’t your first pick, feel free to get a new local number at your new place. Just bear in mind, you might need some paperwork to get a phone contract set up. Requirements vary on location.
This is so underrated when it comes to new expats, it is one of the most important things to learn on how to move to another country.
Have extra money for your apartment situation ready. You’ll usually need a first month’s rent, a security deposit, and sometimes second month of rent.
This varies case by case so if you can, try to find a local who can show you what to do.
Ask a local if you should/should not use a realtor, how you can set up your wifi, water, and gas (if applicable).
If there is a language barrier, see if someone can help you translate. Find people to help you, the more people you have on your side, the easier it is to get settled.
How to move to another country pro tips
Of course no one has to really help you with anything so be nice, maybe offer them something, (free dinner anyone?) and people shouldn’t have a problem doing so.
There are tons of expat groups like this, you can join, ask questions, and potentially meet people.
Simply search in facebook: Expats future location. Something will definitely pop up, and if it doesn’t on Facebook, take the search to Google.
Get an idea beforehand
Please do not go anywhere, especially somewhere foreign, not having any idea of where you are going to live.
If you think you will just freeball it or live somewhere for a “few days,” you might be living there much longer than you think.
Things will get messy, you will get desperate, and that is just a recipe for uncomfort. Don’t settle.
Finding an apartment is time consuming, prevent more stress by having an idea of things.
Try to visit new areas a few times to see what neighborhood you would like to live in. Once you found an ideal area, look into the rent prices to see if you can afford it.
Managing living expectations
The cities everyone knows and loves has high demand and are not cheap. By knowing numbers you can easily set up alerts on local moving websites for these apartments to come to you.
Yeah you might be bummed looking at rent prices that are more expensive, but the sooner you know your reality, the easier it will be to navigate.
The oh i’ll take what I can get attitude isn’t really ideal. This is where you will be living for some time, truly know what you want and what isn’t livable for you.
I would even recommend to move 2-3 months earlier. Lets say you are a student abroad, that’s awesome, but you are not the only student moving at the same time.
Think about it. Apartment hunting is literally a game and very time consuming. Let alone have thousands of newcomers moving at the same time and things are getting more complicated.
Set yourself up right so you can be comfortable.
Lastly, moving is the perfect opportunity to be vulnerable. Pay attention, and if something sounds too good to be true, it is.
Don’t hand over the money if you aren’t sure and always ask for credentials. Avoid craigslist and other sketchy platforms that aren’t secure.
Relationships back home
You don’t have to say goodbye to your old life if you don’t want to. I would personally keep my home support system close.
The reality is though, you might drift with some friends back home. It happens, you can’t always expect the same effort from people without seeing each other.
However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be maintained if both parties put in an effort and truly care.
Distance isn’t really something that is hard to manage anymore with all of these forms of technology. Try to schedule check-in times with friends and family that work for both of you and you’ll see it’s really not that hard.
That is what I do and it has worked great.
Making new friends
Learning how to make friends in a new city can be a challenge, but there are a few things you can do to make the process easier.
First, try to connect with people who share your interests. Joining a club or taking a class are great ways to meet new people who share your passion for hobbies like cooking, gardening, or cycling.
Another option is to get involved in your community by volunteering for a local organization or attending community events. Getting involved in your neighborhood is a great way to meet new people and learn about the city you live in.
Finally, don’t be afraid to strike up conversations with people you meet while running errands or exploring your new city. A friendly smile and some small talk can go a long way towards making new friends.
With college tuition becoming more expensive than ever in America, many students are thinking of studying overseas. In fact, businesses are also looking for graduates with skills in global economies.
When deciding you will move to another country, it is a good moment to understand why you want to move. Understand your reason why you are leaving. Perhaps it’s politics, the better quality of life, more opportunities, safety, etc.
After deciding you are definitely moving, try to get an idea of how long you want to move for. It’s good to know so you know what foreign paperwork you have to prepare and future steps.
For example, Americans traveling through countries in the European Schengen zone don’t need a visa if the stay is not longer than 3 months. After that, proper visas are needed.
Give yourself a timeline
Decide a date you will move and then give yourself a month for a cushion. In life, things don’t go as planned.
The more time you have to organize, the better. This will help to make sure you get everything ready prior to that date.
Give yourself time, there are a lot of things to consider here. Passport, visas, possible health checks for visas, housing, etc.
Once you arrive, you will need to focus on:
- Social life
- Understanding the roads and public transportation
- Learning and respecting the foreign culture
- Finding work or volunteer program – if applicable.
Getting things done the right way helps ensure your well-being in this new place. It is up to you to make sure you take responsibility, especially if you are moving to a new country alone.
This is why it is important to understand what needs to get done, when, and how you can do it.
Can you move to another country without a job?
Yes, you can do anything you put your mind to but if you are not going to be studying abroad, let’s face it. Is that really the best idea?
You should have something lined up that is going to make you money, especially if you have to pay rent.
If that is not ideal, or what you are looking for, more realistic ways to move to another country with no job is by volunteering, house sitting, or hitting the lottery! 😉
Can a US citizen live in another country?
Definitely. US Citizens hold one of the strongest passports on the planet. However, please note, that is very different from someone who has a green card. It is important to note what you can and can’t do as a US green card holder.
You’d be surprised, but there are incidents where people don’t know their status and unfortunately aren’t allowed back in certain places. Know the rules, know your rules, and make things happen.
How to move to another country key takeaways
Learning how to move to another country isn’t all that stressful if you organize.
The main things that should be a priority are visa paperwork, housing, and savings. After you set that up, everything else will be much easier.
It is important to not rush to move to another country. This is a manageable process but not one that needs time to prevent more frustration.
The last thing you want is to lose out on money as a result of quick impulse decisions. Take the time to prepare arrangements.
You also want to give yourself time to make sure you understand the paperwork process.
If you are not sure who to ask and no one seems to have answers, call your native embassy or an immigration lawyer. They will be able to point you in the right direction if they do not know.
If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to locals in a foreign place or drop me a comment below! Where are you moving to next? Would you ever move to another country?
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