You may be sitting there, thinking about how everyone else is travelling, setting up their own businesses, planning the new year, doing projects abroad, living abroad…
You may be considering such a move abroad yourself and you may have various reasons for it – adventure, career development, following your partner during their project abroad.
Whatever the reason, there might be many thoughts in your head!
What things do I need to consider beforehand?
How do I choose where to go?
These and many other questions are present while considering such move and it is completely normal to feel what you are feeling.
Choosing your destination
So you have a specific reason of why you want to go abroad and you are now trying to figure out where would be best to go to. Start your research wide. You can look at the general reports of ‘the best cities for expats’, HSBC for example has a great website (Expat Explorer) with the key information, statistics and guides prepared for most countries. Determine what are the most important things for you that you do not want to compromise on – active expat communities, certain language spoken, certain religion that is dominant, proximity to where your family lives… This will definitely help narrow your choices down.
Then you can go slightly deeper and compare the costs of living, the job markets, start asking about those places among your friends and various expat groups.
When you are down to three or four locations, you can go into even more detail for each of those. And choose the one that you think will match your needs best!
Let’s talk about money and research
During practically every move abroad, there are costs involved. Flights or shipping can somewhat be predicted and planned for. But there may be multiple other ones that can put a strain your wallet – visas, currency exchange rates, extra trips home to sort the admin out, international calls, internet at pay-as-you-go rates before you get it properly set up, tax consultant who will help you with the legal bits… Small things like that can be a pain. So do make sure to plan for the unknown as well and have some spare budget prepared. During your research it might turn out that certain location is just not the right place for you.
I would recommend that you do the research of how much money you will likely need to spend before your move, but also generally, what are the prices of stuff in the new country. This will give you an overview of how quickly you might be able to financially adjust after getting a job there or be able to continue your hobbies.
Things useful to incorporate into your list would be:
- Work permits – check whether you are eligible, how long it takes, and how much it costs. Even if your employer will be paying for some of it, you might need to pay some fees out of pocket before being able to expense them.
- Apartment/house (rent + bills) – take a close look at the flat-hunt websites as you will find that there is no rule about whether the prices include all bills or not. Worth having a close look.
- Daily commute – you obviously don’t yet know where you are going to live, but you can get a general sense of the zone fees or areas that are well connected. Google is really well informed about many bigger cities – it’s not the only resource though so do your local research.
- Internet – not always as easy to get a good rate on this one, so do a quick search to see the range of prices and see if there are any websites that offer discounts for various services.
- Phone – similar strategy as above!
- Tax consultant – depending on where you’re moving from and where to, as well as when, there is a different amount of support you might need. I would recommend you use the services of tax consultants especially if you have various investments in multiple locations.
- Shipping of goods – get quotes from various providers, also consider the insurance and what it includes. Don’t forget that some items might get charged extra at customs.
- Average price of travelling to visit family/friends – look at holiday prices where the costs of flights are bumped up the most and this will give you an idea of more or less how high the prices can get.
- Preparation of documents – you might need new pictures for visas, commuter passes, translations of documents, authorisations of university diplomas…
- Hobbies – for some things you might not incur any costs, but if you like things like gym, crafts, food workshops – it all costs money and it’s good if it doesn’t take you hours to get there too!
- Setting up a new household – check the prices of furniture and some decorations for the house, as in some places it’s not that easy to rent a furnished house.
And, almost most importantly, ask yourself a question: is it what you really want to do? What will move abroad give you, what would you like it to change in your life? It’s really good to know your motivations for moving abroad before you actually move. This will keep you going 🙂 Moving abroad can really be a great experience, but it’s not the easiest thing to do, so it is important to know why you’re doing it.
I prepared a worksheet that can help you figure out those goals. It’s completely free for you to download after signing up to the newsletter below! In the newsletter itself, you will get some news from this blog as well as expat stories and tips for people working and living internationally.