If you’re looking for a sign to move abroad (or that extra push—here it is).
I know it can be exciting, but it can also be scary. You’re literally deciding to pack up your stuff and move to a foreign country. Whether you decide to visit, have family or friends there, or go sight unseen—what you’re doing is admirable.
Not too many people have the courage to do that. So if you really want to do it, and I mean REALLYYYYYYY want this expat life—you can! The vision is the first part; everything else is figureoutable.
And If you’re anything like me, your thoughts might jumble around in your head, as you think of all the things you need to do or find answers to.
What visa should I apply for? Will I even like it? How will I make friends? Do they have oregano seasoning there? What’s 1 USD to Baht?
Oh, the joy!
But I promise you, writing these thoughts/questions down will help you gain clarity on your journey abroad. The first step is to RESEARCH.
Let’s say you want to move to Thailand, the first thing you’ll need to do is research the place.
Seriously. Dedicate time to watching YouTube videos of expats and immigrants, to get a visual of how they’re acclimating to the country.
This can give you a feeling that sometimes you can’t capture while reading. But it’s equally important to search for blogs about moving to the country of your choice.
Many bloggers will detail their process of moving to said country, some info they wish they knew beforehand, and what their transition has been like.
So, it is imperative to get bloggers opinions on the country of your choice. It’s also good to research the visa laws.
Countries offer tourist, education/student, investment, work, and passive income visas. Doing your research will show you what visa works best for you and your situation, and will highlight the steps you have to take.
When I made my move to Thailand, I came to the country on a tourist visa, found a job teaching English, then converted it to a work visa. I wouldn’t have known this was my best option if I didn’t research. I probably would have signed up through a program and got placed in a city that WASN’T my choice.
Every country is different.
Nomad list gives you an idea of the cost of living for a local vs an expat.
I’d also recommend joining Facebook groups, or other forums to search for community + common questions asked about said country.
Some examples of what to search for on Facebook would be: (your nationality) expats in (country you want to move to), (country of your choice) digital nomads.
You can even get more specific and find groups geared towards your gender, ethnicity, or race in the country you want to move to.
Visiting isn’t necessary for everyone, if you cannot visit a country before moving—don’t be discouraged. I don’t care what ANYONE says—if it’s something you want to do, go after it (even if it’s sight unseen). Just make sure you thoroughly research, and you’ll be okay.
With that being said, you can visit if you want. This can help you get a feel for the country, where stores are located, what it’s like interacting with locals, how to get around. And it might seal the deal for you—solidify your move.
If you want to find a realtor and/or a lawyer to help with your move, it’d be a good idea to meet up with some prospects during your visit. Then you can have them handle the more arduous tasks, like securing your housing and taking care of your visa.
Many people go this route, especially if they’re going under a passive income, retirement, or investment visa.
If you’re coming on a work visa, more than likely your company will handle everything for you.
Some things to think about as you’re curating your visit are:
- What area would you want to stay in? You can rent an Airbnb in different parts of the country or even a town to get a feel.
- Can you get around by walking? Taking public transportation? Will you need a car? How much do all these options cost? What’s the most convenient and cost efficient option?
- Are you willing to learn this language? Can you communicate with the locals?
- Is the food healthy? Is it easy and affordable to buy groceries?
- Are there other expats—especially around your age?
- Can you see yourself assimilating into the culture?
- What visas are other foreigners on?
- Is it feasible to find work there? Or should you work remotely?
Pair these questions with the ones you come up with during your research to see if this move is for ya!
Create a timeline
Now that you’ve researched and maybe visited your country of choice—it’s time to create a timeline. And this really will depend on where you are in life.
If you’re single, with no kids, and not locked into contracts like a mortgage or car note—you could make your move relatively soon. Meaning a year or less (that’s what I did).
If you have other people or things to factor in, you must give yourself time to make this come to fruition.
You’re going to want to wait until your contracts are up, if you have a child—when they’re done with middle school or their school year—whatever the case is. Think about the things that are preventing you from making your move immediately and factor those in your timeline.
Some people will wait as much as 5-10 years before making a move (not saying you should). But honor what is right for you and your current situation.
Write down EVERYTHING and the dates you’ll want to have them complete by. Break it down into small tasks, so you don’t get overwhelmed with the overall process.
You’re doing great, you got this.
If you are a little anxious, that’s completely normal.
Secure a job
Depending on what countries you’re trying to move to, securing a job can be easy—or difficult. In Thailand, you can land a teaching gig in two weeks or less.
Check job boards such as Indeed, LinkedIn, or one geared towards that country. It might even help to hire someone to revamp your resume (different places, have different standards).
Also, not every country has a high demand for your field.
If that’s the case, find a remote job that allows you to work anywhere.
Andddd if you already have a job, see if they have locations outside of the country you could transfer to!
So you did your research, you visited, created a timeline, and secured a job. Go you!!!!
Now that everything is aligning, it’s time to save.
Save to buy your ticket out there, for groceries, transportation, and a couple months’ worth of rent.
Depending on the country, it might be a few thousand dollars and other places even more. During your research you’ll figure out what the cost of living is, then account for incidentals, and some extra fluff for the just-in-case.
Even if your company pays for your relocation, you’ll still need to save to prepare for miscellaneous things.
Downsize/sell your things
I’m a firm believer in packing light.
You don’t have to take all your material possessions, and sometimes putting things in storage is a waste too.
Look, I’m not here to tell you how to live your life.
Sometimes we get caught up in material things, and that prevents us from having the experience rich lifestyles we desire. Also, having to pack up everything, then pay to move it, can be a costly process.
Sell your furniture, car, and house (or maybe you can rent that out).
I also recommend selling the things you barely use, or have no use for; even if it’s hard. You might even find these items in your new country too.
Part of moving abroad is learning to let go of the things that no longer serve you, so you can be free. This is something you’ll have to come to terms with on your own. But I HIGHLY suggest you downsize.
Get ducks in a row
Probably the least liked part.
But you have to get everything in order, like having a binder/folder with necessary documents such as your birth certificate, copies of your passport, etc.
You might want to obtain your international driver’s license, or look into getting a license for that country.
You’re going to have to inform your banks of your move. Might even help to get a bank that has zero foreign ATM fees.
See if you have a family member’s address you can use to forward your mail while you’re abroad. Or set up a virtual P.O. box, so you’ll have access to important documents and can keep a US address.
As much as you need to do all these things to “get your ducks in a row,” you probably will want to see your friends and family before embarking on this journey. It’s all equally important.
Set up virtual therapy
As thrilling as it is to move abroad, it can also bring feelings of discomfort.
Just like any other transition, you should give yourself grace as you get acclimated to a new way of living. Give yourself time to meet new people. Give yourself the space to learn the ins and outs of your city.
Having a therapist can help you with this change and make sense of whatever emotions might come up.
Before I moved to Thailand, I found a virtual therapist and BOY, did it make my move that much easier. There are so many platforms you can use to find virtual therapy; your future self will thank you!
That way you can use a sim card in said country (and when you’re traveling around).
Having an unlocked phone means you’re not locked into any contracts and you can use local data + get a phone number. Many countries have month-to-month plans, that allows you to top up your data or if you want a contract, you can do that as well.
It’s not as common in some countries to call and text, but instead use WhatsApp which only requires internet.
Get travel/health insurance
Before you get settled in, make sure you have travel insurance to cover you in case something happens. Yes, we don’t want or expect things to happen—but they do.
I’ve gotten robbed abroad, missed flights, and been sick—travel insurance covers all of that. Plus, it’ll give you time once you’re in the country to find a health insurance plan that works for you.
Don’t take this lightly. You can find a plan for as low as $50. Once you have your date set, get this ASAP.
Hopefully, this list helped you put things in perspective.
Moving abroad is a BIG DEAL! So give yourself the time to figure this thangggg out. These are all the steps you need to take in order to get the ball rolling.
Are you planning a move abroad? Or have live abroad? Comment below.