Moving to a different country can be one of the most exciting yet most daunting things a person can do! I have been fortunate enough to have lived, both in different countries and in vastly different cities in these different countries (I’ve lived in Africa, Europe and Asia) and can definitely say that over time, you start to develop a knack of what you need to do to move to an entirely different country/city/continent!
The biggest thing here to get you started on your journey to a different country is to do with the conflicting emotions of excitement and trepidation. Your excitement needs to overwhelm the trepidation (that daunting, overwhelming feeling you have – almost akin to fear) and one surefire way of doing that is to plan and here’s how:
1.) Decide on a country you want to move in: This is the easy (and fun) part! This is when you fall in love with a place or perhaps even develop some rational logical reason as to why you want to move to this place. There is no “one size fits all” method here – people think differently (some are more emotional, some are more logical) and you just need to decide on a place that’s right for you. One thing can be said though – once you make that decision, you’ll know! That gnawing feeling telling you that you need to pack up and move (even if you feel like you need to do this for just 1 month) will awaken in you and refuse to go away.
2.) Find out what schemes or programmes you’re eligible to apply to: Most countries have this kind of information readily available everywhere. This is the tricky part and again, people have lots of different experiences and backgrounds so it’s hard to prescribe one route to fit all. At one point, places like the UK and Canada had schemes to attract University educated individuals aged 18 – 30 but these rules change all the time so it’s best to check on the official website. There are other schemes like working holiday schemes which give you time to basically work and travel the country (brilliant for those who aren’t looking to make a huge commitment and truly find out if they’d love to live in the said country).
There are other things you can do as well though if you don’t meet the requirements for these schemes, if you have visa agreements between your country and the country you’d like to move to (i.e. you don’t need one) you can take a leap of faith and save some money to there for a few months (save enough to pay for accommodation, food, transport…etc) and visit longer term as a tourist. Even if you gain nothing at all from that, you will at the very least have had the chance to live your dream and immerse yourself in the country of your dreams.
Better still, you’ll understand more about how things work by living there, build a network and then be able to develop a plan on your return home to help make you eligible for one of the schemes to move there on a more permanent basis (if indeed that is what you still want). To further drive home my point here are the official website for immigration schemes for Canada, The UK, The US, Australia and New Zealand.
3.) Save money: Throughout the entire process, it’s important to have some money saved.
Depending on the scheme you want to embark on, it always helps to have some money saved (even if the scheme or programme doesn’t require you to). I’m not saying that you should try to save MILLIONS (which is a great excuse for procrastinating and never getting round to living your dream) but have something decent to help you deal with little expenses once you arrive (new phone contract, travel card, first few grocery shops…etc).
Don’t waste too much time at this stage though, this is the one that tends to keep people down but if you do save some money take a leap of faith and get going. Remember – an alternative to saving money is to sell things that you don’t need and more importantly, can’t take with you to your new country!
4.) Decide on a time to leave: My advice is to leave pretty much straight away! I’m guessing at this point you’ve been waiting long enough so there’s no need to leave thing off any longer than you have to.
Of course, some people might have other circumstances which mean they can’t leave straight away (e.g. if they need to sell off all their stuff) so sort out the things you need to do but more importantly, SET A DATE. This date will give you something to work towards and a timeline for your plans is a great motivation when you want to move countries.
5.) Visas: Chances are that if you want to move to a different country, you will require some sort of legal status. This may require a proper visa stamp in your passport, or could just involve registering with the required authorities. Whatever the case is, start thinking about it sooner rather than later as these things can sometimes take time and you don’t want to have to wait any longer than necessary for them.
6.) Travel Plans: Book those tickets! We’ve got a great easy to use tool to help you plan your travel to the last detail! Just input your departure location (you can be as specific as you like here) and your destination and it will provide you with all the necessary connection you need to get to where you want. This includes buses, trains, flights, taxis – everything!!! Alternatively, Skyscanner is also a great way to help you plan cheap travel (I’m not sponsored by them in any way – they’re just always my go to place).
7.) Sort out (perhaps, temporary) accommodation: Unless you know enough in-depth information about the place you’re visiting, I would advice booking temporary accommodation in the first instance! This will help you find the best bargain when it comes to accommodation and a location that suits your new lifestyle (For example, did you know in London you never pay the asking price for accommodation? You always go back to the estate agents/landlord with your best offer and then they come back to you with what they’re willing to accept?).
In any case, always see the new place you’ll be living in (longer-term) in person! You’d be surprised at how descriptions and pictures online can be dramatically different from seeing the place in person.
8.) Join relevant social media groups: This is a very useful source of information when you’re moving to a new country and indeed can provide a support group of sorts and forum to have your questions answered.
There are lots of these groups on Facebook and even places like Quora have forums for asking questions. Be careful though, don’t share too much information about yourself or where you’ll be staying or anything like that. I know most people have the best intentions in these groups but you’re still dealing with strangers so exercise the kind of caution you would normally do with strangers.
9.) Arrange a leaving party: This doesn’t have to be something big but you’ve been leaving your life in your current country for a while and while a leaving part sounds entirely indulgent (and in some ways, it is), it is very important to have some closure of sorts on your old life you’re about to leave behind. It’s important to leave feeling like you’ve had a chance to celebrate with the people closest to you rather than leaving for a new country still feeling like you have “unfinished business” in your old one. Said feeling of “unfinished business” is a recipe for dissatisfaction in your new life and is best avoided at all costs.
And that’s it! By the point in which you’ve gone through all these 8 steps, not only would you have the information you need when you move to a new country, you will also have a tangible plan to get you from your current country to the country of your dreams and one step closer to living the life you truly want!
NEXT TIME: I will cover what you should do when you arrive in the country, you’d think this process would be different from country to countru but in my experience from moving across continents, you’d be surprised at how similar the initial process of settling into a country is but more on that next time…