Emigrating, moving abroad, leaving your hometown, family and friends for good is one of the hardest decisions to make, but can also be one of the biggest steps forward in your life. For the sake of this article I will assume that you have fallen in love on the road, so you’ve been to your new home at least once, and have not only visited touristy hot spots, but also ventured beyond that. You still have the intention to make this place your new home and relocate for good. In order to make this move a successful one, take a look at these five things to consider and make sure you tick all the boxes.
1) Can you handle the culture & mentality?
Every country has its own special food and flavor – and a lot of local culture is expressed through its food. While in France people like it sweet, England is known for its rich and savory pub foods. If you are a healthy eater or maybe vegetarian or vegan, check that your new home offers the foods and nutrition that you require and like. Besides the food itself, there is also the difference of when to eat or where. For example, Italy and France are known for a late dinners with the entire family, while in other places people eat earlier and more privately. Food is an important part of social and night life – make sure you understand how this works in your new home.
RELIGION & POLITICS
Clearly religion is a big part of culture and a country’s history. You don’t necessarily have to convert in order to become a part of your new social environment, but you should consider in what way religion is part of the daily day life e.g. does it influences the way of public life, the daily rhythm or the preparation of certain foods?
Not to forget the holidays. Are you moving from a country within Europe that celebrates Christmas and going to a country where there is no ‘Happy Holidays’ or a differently scheduled New Year’s Eve?
Particularly women should consider their position within their new environment – do you have the same rights as before? Are these the rights you can live with? How do you deal with the local political climate? What if you suddenly become the focus of a political campaign, and how do you position yourself regarding the most pertinent local debates, such as (but not only) the legalization of drugs or equality of lifestyles?
Moving from sunny Australia to rainy England or snowy Canada can be quite a challenge. The days can be shorter, the winters longer or the blazing sun can make it impossible to enjoy a walk. The weather and seasons influence us and our lives more than we think. It can make us stop doing things we like, like outdoor sports, and even cause psychological depression.
Different areas around the world have to deal with different weather phenomena – some more pleasant than others. Are you prepared to live with the annual monsoon, regular earthquakes or even the risk of tornados?
Living in a remote beach town or high up in the mountains, far away from civilization and the daily pressure of fast-paced city life sounds alluring until you find yourself living on an island or in a village with no other option to leave than the daily bus into town which takes 9 hours one way. Ever heard of island fever?
If you intend to move abroad as a long-term solution, make sure you consider your new home accordingly. If you dream of having a family, can you imagine your kids growing up in this area? Are you OK to live far away from an airport, or should you maybe consider moving to a bigger city? Relocating for good is a decision to make with the future in mind.
2) Do you know the language?
I can’t stress it enough: don’t just start
Navigating your way through the admin jungle of permits, visas, contracts and insurances is a lot easier that way, but so is making friends, connecting with neighbors or finding a job you’re qualified for. The closer you can get to fluent language skills before your move, the better. Some destinations will even require you to prove that you have a certain language level when you apply for a visa/work permit.
3) Find a job before emigrating
This won’t come as a surprise, but relocating is obviously a lot easier if you’ve already got a job lined up in your new home. Everything from getting a work permit, to finding an apartment and buying new furniture is easier if you know you have an employer to rely on. Settling into a new country can be a full-time job in itself, and so is finding work – having to do both at the same time can be straining.
Alternatively you need quite a bit of savings to sustain you through the first few weeks or months of settling in. In many countries you need a local address as well we proof of address, like an electricity bill or a lease, to open a bank account or register for health services. Different countries have different CV standards, so make sure to update yours accordingly to meet all requirements. Or maybe you can
One more word on finding a job before you move: with moving abroad to work being more popular than ever, many companies are happy to get to know you via Skype interviews, so don’t hesitate to apply to your dream job!
4) Family and friends are key
When you leave everything behind and move to a new country, family and friends at home are your most important support network. Not just to help you clean out your home, help out at yard sales or store some belongings you simply can’t take with you – but to stand by your side throughout the emotional process of uprooting yourself.
When you get cold feet and start doubting the decision you made, make sure you have a good friend’s number on speed dial, so they can tell you that you made the right choice to try and that they’re there for you. No matter where you go, they will always understand your fears and are even ready to welcome you back home, should you made have the wrong decision. Although you probably haven’t!
5) Don’t take ‘no’ for an answer
For every supportive friend and family member, there are likely going to be 5 no-sayers – people who tell you not to do it, who focus only on the negative aspects of moving abroad and talk you into fear rather than excitement. And to be honest, once the initial excitement of arriving in a new place passes, you might feel like they were right. Once you realize how far away from home you are; that you are alone in a new country, city or region; that you don’t have sufficient language skills even though you tried; that finding a job, a flat or friends is harder than you thought.
Always remember though, you should not take ‘no’ for an answer – not from your critical relatives, and certainly not from yourself. All these problems are not actually problems at all – they are challenges and your task is to overcome them. You will make friends and connect with people who might also be new to the rhythm of your new home. Once you get started with one thing, the rest will come naturally. No matter how big the ‘No’ is at the beginning or after three weeks, don’t give up. Remember what made you want to change your life in the first place, and why you chose this place for your future. I promise soon or later you will be there: at home.
This is a guest post by Kim Melcher.
Kim Melcher is a Marketing Strategist who loves exploring the world, enjoying the beauty of nature with all Earthlings. Kim has always been driven by wanderlust and a big passion for adventure, to seek out that feeling of being free. Since her childhood it was clear that Kim was going to travel the world, inspired by her grandparents who were big world travelers themselves. Now at the age of 24, Kim reveals her own travel experiences in an honest and inspiring way.