The closer my husband gets to retiring, the more we think about where we would like to live when we are no longer tied down to a location due to work. We have thought of moving abroad as we are quite tired of the winters and dream of getting away from the cold.
There are a lot of factors to consider when thinking about relocating or moving to another country, including finances. I reached out to a few expats for their advice and wisdom about the whole process. If you are thinking about living in another country, I hope these tips will help you make the process easier and smoother.
Tips For Moving To Another Country
1. Why did you decide to leave your homeland?
Answered by Sonila of Mediterranean Latin Love Affair
I have had to move and live in other countries twice for two very different reasons. The first time I moved from my native country of Albania to United States. I was 21 years old, full of dreams and looking for more opportunities. I wanted to study engineering and start a new life.
The first few decades of my life were filled with family, love, friends and so many joyous experiences. However, while I was growing up I also experienced the fall of Communism, the civil unrest of 1997 and so many things that made me want to start a safer life with more opportunities in another country. During my senior year of high school, school was suspending for a few months because it was dangerous to go out in the streets. My prom night became a prom lunch as after 8pm there was curfew. As soon as it was legally possible, I dropped my studies and moved to United States where I started college from scratch. I ended up accomplishing my dream of study engineering, earning 2 degrees. During my college years, I met the love of my life, my husband.
Few years later, we relocated for my husband’s job (back then fiance) to New Zealand. It was one of the most special periods of my life. New Zealand is breathtaking. My career was growing as I found the perfect job there. My husband and I enjoyed spending our free time exploring the country and did several short and long road trips. It’s was just paradise!
We left New Zealand and went back to the United States when my husband’s project was over. Then we really settled in Miami. This is the place I call home now. We have lived here for close to 20 years. My kids were born here and I am currently a SAHM that runs a food blog on the side.
2. Where did you decide to move and why?
Answered by Vicki of Vicki Viajia
I decided to move from a small town in Germany to Barcelona, Spain. Why I decided to move there can easily be answered. On my first trip to Barcelona, I fell in love. Not only with the city – because let’s be honest, Barcelona is stunning – but also with a Catalan man that hosted us during our city break in his flat.
It was a surprisingly easy decision at that time for me as I just finished University and planned to spend some time abroad anyway. And the amazing sunny weather that expected me every time I visited my boyfriend in Barcelona only made it easier for me to say Goodbye to the often grey and rainy North of Germany.
3. What was the hardest part of the process when moving to another country?
Answered by Yvette of TheYvetteRene
My husband and I moved from the USA to Sydney, Australia. The hardest thing for me to get my mind around was the size, condition and prices of the apartments. Rent was advertised as a price per week. I was sure we had budgeted enough for rent to get a great apartment that we would be excited to share photos of. Boy, was I wrong. And actually, it was the price of everything, not just housing that we did not expect.
Countries, regions and even different parts of the same city can have huge variations in cost of living. If you are looking to keep the same standard of living as in your home country, you may not find as big a difference as you expected. Especially if you were reliant on things being much cheaper.
4. Is there anything you wish you did differently?
Answered by Tamra of Intentional Summer
Would I have done things differently? Oh my gosh yes!. When I left Australia I sold as many of my possessions as I could and what I couldn’t sell, I gave away. But I had no idea how homesick I was going to get and how much I would miss things from home.
In hindsight, I should have taken more time going through my possessions and I should have kept the things from my country that you can’t get anywhere else. The things that remind you of home. Because when you move everything changes and everything is new. But at least when you go back to your house at night, you would be walking into something that felt like ‘home.’, because you have your stuff around you which is familiar to you.
When I left my home country I gave away a very soft furry bean bag chair that I loved, 10 years later I still wish I had kept that chair. I have never found another one since. If you have something you love don’t think “Well I’ll just get another when I get there”, unless you’re sure they will have it.
If I knew then what I know now, I would have dedicated a whole shipping box just to the foods I love, that I know I can’t get over here. It would have made that first year a little easier having that comfort food around me. I may have put on weight but that’s a risk I’d be willing to take for a taste of home.
Related Post: How I Vacationed In Italy For 2 Months
5. How long did the planning and moving take you?
Answered by Kate of High Chair Chronicles
The planning and moving took about 4 months, once we made up our minds to move from the US to the Bahamas. Most of that time was spent preparing for the move: talking to other expats, planning on what to bring and what to leave behind, getting quotes from shipping companies to move our belongings and cars, finding out about requirements for relocating our pets, finding an apartment for rent, sorting out what to do with our house in the US, and making lots and lots of lists to stay organized. During this time, my husband’s new company applied for the work permit, which typically takes 3 months to get.
Once the work permit was approved, we scheduled the shipping company to come pack up our belongings, booked a one-way flight, and we were on our way to the island life in less than two weeks!
6. What factors did you not consider that you wish you would have?
Answered by Jen of A Cure for Monday
I moved from Australia to the U.S. back in 2017 when I was offered my dream job. I definitely don’t regret making the move. If I went back in time I would make the same decision again, but there are certainly some factors that I didn’t consider that I wish I would have.
The main thing I wish I would have considered was an exit plan and the cost of having to move back to my homeland. One of the biggest realizations that I’ve had recently is that the job opportunities back in Australia don’t measure up to what I have here in the U.S. and that I’ll have to take a considerable pay cut when or if I do eventually move back. While this isn’t the end of the world, it does complicate the decision and I feel like I could easily fall into the mindset of “just one more year”.
I think having a solid plan in place for returning to your homeland is very important. Things may not work out as you planned and/or you may not want to stay in your new country for any number of personal reasons. You don’t want to feel stuck.
Related Post: How We Quit Our Jobs Before 50 And Travel Full Time
7. What is the hardest part of living in your new country?
Answered by Hannah of Australian Country Gypsy
When I decided to permanently stay/live in Australia and marry my fiancé, life seemed like one of those awesome stories you hear about where someone finds their life partner while traveling in another country and it plays out like a perfect romantic comedy story line. I had already been living in Australia for a year and half and had been having the adventure of a lifetime (this was my second trip here, I studied abroad here a few years prior).
Eventually though some of the realities started to hit me once living here was permanent. Many of the moments you look forward to when growing up, such as sharing your engagement news with gals pals over a drink (or hearing about theirs), having your girlfriends/mom help you pick things out for the wedding in person, sharing your first child’s early smiles and cuddles, and many of the moments you had always thought you’d share with those you love are now not possible.
All those little life moments you thought you’d get, are now extremely limited or won’t get to happen.
Even now, starting to think about the future with our little 1 year old, many of the things I did as a child I won’t be able to share with him. Going to the pumpkin patch as a family and picking out a pumpkin for Halloween isn’t a thing here. Being in the Southern Hemisphere it isn’t Autumn during Halloween. Things that I related to my childhood won’t be a part of his. School and school activities throughout the year are a bit different, so I will have to learn how that works. I am always having to catch myself having to learn the “norm” here for kids, holidays, activities, etc.
Sometimes it is quite fun and I enjoy learning new things, and that is why I was happy to move and build our lives here. Australia is great for having a more “Work to Live” approach to life compared to “Live to Work” which seems to be taking over America.
Though, sometimes it is very hard to not be able to live out some of the things that were the “norm” for me. To not be able to share moments that I’d thought I would get with friends and family, like taking my kiddo to his Great Grandparents and show his cute little bumblebee Halloween costume. Or to just have my best friend of 10 years come over and have a coffee and hangout to share life’s little tidbits.
As someone who moved a lot while living in America I knew what it was like to be far from family, even during the holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. But to be far from family AND friends who just get where you come from for general conversation and little moments, that is hard. You feel “different” quite often. Even as years go on something will still come up that you have to learn because you tried to go with the “norm” you know from growing up and didn’t realize it wasn’t the same here. Even after 4 years it still hits hard sometimes, sometimes you just want to do something you are used to but it isn’t an option.
That is what I have found to be the hardest thing about living in a new country, missing those little life moments.
8. What is the best part of living where you are now?
Answered by Alexa of Key to my lime.
The best part of living in Canada is the healthcare. There’s a completely different atmosphere when people don’t have to choose jobs solely for the purpose of acquiring decent healthcare. The culture is much more entrepreneurial when you have that basic need met. I attribute my ability to work for myself to the healthcare system here. I don’t know if I would have been willing to take the leap without it! Plus, everyone is so friendly here! I love how considerate and kind the people are. If you ever venture up to the Great White North, be sure to grab a Double Double at Tim Hortons. The coffee can’t be beat!
Related Post: Is Global Housesitting Right For You?
9. What was the number one thing you did to make your new country feel like home?
Answered by Karen of Wanderlistingk.
I think that the word “home” can be relative based. It depends on where you feel like you have a solid network to support you and a house that you love coming home to. I regrettably didn’t do this on my first move abroad. I realized that it was a mistake not to make my new apartment feel like my home. It’s hard to feel truly at home when you’re living among someone else’s furniture and decorations, as many new expats do within furnished apartments.
One of the best steps (especially if you know that you’ll be staying) is making some small touches to make your house feel like your home. Whether it’s decorating with some favourite artworks, finding some decorations to remind you of people you love, buying some plants, or buying cozy furniture. (Thrift stores and markets are a great place to get inspired!) I find that these small touches help your home transform from the apartment where you’re living, to a place that truly feels like home, even if you’re thousands of miles away from your family.
10. What advice would you give others considering a move to another country?
Answered by Iva of Amazing Me Movement
To say that moving to another country is scary is an understatement. It’s scary as f*ck! But once you make the leap it’s so liberating and eye opening. I’ve moved to two different countries from Canada in the last 4 years, Guatemala and Mexico. If I had to give any advice it would be this:
Keep an open mind and learn a bit about the town you are moving to. Find out what kinds of things you might be without in your new country and see how hard it is to find them. Sometimes it’s hard to find medicine that you are used to.
You should maybe even visit it once before you move. I didn’t do this with Guatemala but ended up staying there for 4 years because it was so beautiful. I did, however, visit Mexico before I decided to relocate there.
Remember there is good and bad everywhere. Use common sense if travelling alone and you will be more than fine. So many people told me that Guatemala is ‘one of the most dangerous countries in the world’ and there are lots of murders. What they don’t realize is that most of those murders are from domestic violence. No place is 100% safe. Anywhere. I have never felt more safe in my entire life as in the little town in Guatemala I lived in.
Culture shock is a real thing, depending on what country you are moving to. Patience will be your best friend. Learn to accept and appreciate the differences in culture. Complaining about it won’t make it easier. Remember, you are in their country, this is their culture, not yours. Embrace it.
And have fun!!
Thank you so much to all the expats that contributed to this article. Your information is truly valuable and I am sure you have helped a few future expats with their own transition plans.