Moving and living in different countries is a completely different experience compared to visiting a destination, and has both ups and downs. So far I’ve lived in three different countries (at time of writing). These are England, Canada and Austria. In this post, I will tell you some of my thoughts and the things you should consider, including the good and the bad, of moving and living in different countries based on my experience.
What to consider before moving abroad
Work and money
How will you support yourself when you move abroad? Will you have a job, or do you have enough savings or passive income to support yourself and possibly your family? Thinking about your income should be one of the most important aspects to consider before you move.
When I moved to Toronto I had a job offer before I arrived which made it easier. The job didn’t work out so I then ended up leaving this and working freelance. Luckily there was work available that matched my skill set. My next international move was to Vienna, where I worked part-time for the school my girlfriend worked at. This again made the move easier. Having a job or confirmed work when moving to a new country will relieve some of the financial pressure.
As well as working for a company, you could try freelancing online. Jobs such as programming, graphic design, writing and various other work is always in demand. Consider reading: Jobs That Help You Travel And See More Of The World for some ideas on jobs you can do if you move abroad.
When moving abroad always make sure you legally can, and whether you need a residency visa, work permit, or something else to allow you to stay. In some countries, there are schemes where you can live and work in a country for 1-2 years to experience that country. This sometimes applies only to younger people though.
What language does the country you are moving to have? Can they also speak your language?
When moving you may find that you can do the basics, but if you are getting mail such as bills, and also having to go into government offices for paperwork, sometimes it can get a bit tricky. Before moving to another country try and find guides online which explain all the legal/registration things that you will need to do once you arrive. You may also have to sign contracts which can be long and you don’t really want to be signing things that you can’t read and understand. There are translation services available and one service I use a lot is translate.google.com which is good, but probably not perfect. You could also consider hiring someone to help with translations but that can get a bit expensive.
For my experience in Austria, me and my girlfriend found that a lot of government offices don’t always speak great English and legal paperwork is in German. Luckily we had help from the staff at the school when we moved, otherwise this would have been a lot more tricky.
Friends and family
Moving abroad can be difficult if you are leaving all your friends and family behind. You may get homesick and feel lonely. Meeting new friends in a new destination can take a time depending on what job you get and whether you get involved in the expat community or social events.
For me, I always miss my friends and family, living in Austria doesn’t make it hard to head back and visit them. However living further, such as in Asia, the Americas or Australia would make it more difficult.
Holiday allowance/Annual Leave
What kind of holiday allowance would you get when working in another country?
If you are hoping to travel or visit friends and family back home, then you’re probably going to want as much time as possible to head back. You may need to head back for weddings, funerals and other such occasions. Even if you don’t intend to head back to your home country that much, you may also want to travel, and if you get minimum holiday allowance then you may never have enough time off to do that. To get a rough idea of annual leave/holiday allowance in various countries look on en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_annual_leave. Also look on official websites before moving to a country though.
For me, I had lots of annual leave when I have lived in Europe, but when I lived in Canada I only got 10 days, which to see friends and family back home, as well as being able to travel just wasn’t enough. This was actually partly why I couldn’t stay in that job for long.
Location and cost to get home
Another thing to consider before moving abroad is how easy and affordable it is to get home. The further away then more expensive it will be, and as a result, you may find it harder to visit your home country as often, especially if you are on a low income or have a low annual leave/holiday allowance.
Consider using a site such as www.google.at/flights to search for flight times and get an idea of the cost.
Religious and cultural rules
Cost to move
Deposits and agency fees
Another big cost when moving abroad is having a deposit for accommodation. This can sometimes be extremely expensive. For me moving to Toronto was fairly easy as I didn’t have an agency fee, and we just had to pay first and last months rent on moving in. Whilst in Austria most places charge a huge agency fee, as well as a large deposit. This can add thousands to your initial moving in cost.
Furniture and luggage
In some places, such as the UK, you can move into apartments that come fully furnished, such as a bed, tables, washing machine etc, but in many other places around the world you would rent an empty apartment and have to bring everything yourself. If you are moving into an empty place in another country, then you could consider shipping your furniture across or buying furniture.
For shipping large amounts of items
For shipping abroad, we used upakweship.com when moving from Canada to Austria, and were happy with the service. It still isn’t cheap but it was one of the more affordable options and they provided good customer service. Another thing to note is that there can often be hidden costs when shipping abroad, that you only find out about when you go to pick up your items. This was the case when we moved from UK to Canada. We used shipit.co.uk for that service who we don’t recommend!
For shipping suitcases
Another service you could use is mybaggage.com who can ship your luggage, such as suitcases all over the world. This would be helpful if you’re doing a few years away and want to take some of your items, but not all of them. This is a trackable service and you can get SMS and emails alerting you when your items are collected and should be delivered.
As well as shipping furniture you also need to think about what you need to ship in terms of personal possessions. Ie how much clothes do you need to bring with you? Can you fit everything you need in a couple of suitcases, or will you need to ship some things? For me when I moved I left some of my possessions at my parents and then just took with me essential items, such as clothes, my computer, some travel books and various other things.
Something that a lot of people forget about is whether their electrical items will be ok in another country. Some high power items such as hair dryers can play up and die after a while (as my girlfriend found out). Whether or not you need to worry depends on which country you are coming from and which country you are moving to. For example in the USA the voltage is often 100 – 127 V whilst in many places in Europe it is 220 – 240 V. This means that if you plug in a low voltage device into a high voltage socket then it can destroy the item.
On many electrical items such as laptops, chargers etc, you will be able to look at the plug or power adapter and see what voltage the item can handle.
As well as the power of the device you also need to think about plug sockets, as there are lots of different socket types all around the world. I have used the Skross World Travel Adapter for most of my travels and also when I have revisited Canada and the UK, and I have found the plug great. It takes inputs from almost any plug in the world and also connects to almost any socket.
For more information on power and sockets around the world, a good source of information is www.worldstandards.eu.
Internet speed and reliability
If a good internet connection is important to you, then you should look into the connection speed and reliability before you travel. For example, a good internet connection would be important for those that work online, watch online TV such as Netflix, as well as those that need to Skype their friends, family or business contacts.
Getting bank accounts
Sorting out bank accounts in new countries can be a long process and a pain. Especially if the staff can’t speak your language and all the paperwork is foreign to you. For me when moving to Austria we luckily managed to find some staff that could speak enough English to help us. We did need to register where we were living first with the government before we could get it though, so check online for the steps required when you move to a new country.
Also, you may need to transfer money between your home country and your new bank account. I recommend TransferWise to do this. For reasons why check out my post: 7 Reasons Why You Should Use TransferWise for International Transfers
Food, cuisine and groceries
Some destinations around the world aren’t that great for buying groceries, which can make cooking at home more difficult. For me, England and Toronto were the easiest as the grocery stores were huge with lots of things you could buy. On the other hand, I found Vienna a bit harder as many of the grocery stores are a lot smaller with less selection. I have heard that some destinations such as in Hong Kong people generally eat out more than cook. This may be due to small grocery stores and smaller kitchens.
I hope this post helps you and gives you things to think about before you move to another country. One of the most important things you will need to do before moving is research online and look at official sources of information.