Moving abroad can be a very exciting thing to do, and it opens your life up to new adventures and new people. However, to have a pleasant experience, it’s best to do some leg-work at home and to understand the scope of what you need and don’t need before making a big change in your life.

First things first – decide what your reasons for moving are and what you hope to learn from the experience.  Moving to Western Europe is a very different cultural experience than moving to Southeast Asia. If you are looking for a more culturally familiar experience, you will consider different countries than if you are seeking immersion in a culture that is very different than the one in which you were raised.


Do Your Research

Once you have decided where you want to be geographically, spend some time researching the various cities and surrounding areas. Consider if you want an urban or rural experience and how the difference may impact how you live. If you are looking for employment, you may have an easier time finding a job in a larger metropolitan area than in smaller towns and villages.

Once you are there, you will have a more comprehensive experience if you travel to areas beyond the scope of larger cities. You’ll likely have more access to locals outside of larger cities – an opportunity that can help cultivate your language skills as well as giving you a broader understanding of the nation and its people.


Pack and Travel Light

In most cases, you’ll be able to buy what you need when you are overseas. You may even find yourself buying things that compliment your personality more than what you are familiar with at home. The one exception to this is prescription medicines. Be sure to meet with your doctor before moving to renew any medications, and check your destination country’s embassy website for more comprehensive information about medications that you may need. It’s also a good idea to carry copies of your prescriptions with you so you can get the appropriate medications in an emergency.

Other than that, consider taking only what you need or cherish the most and open your mind to new experiences and new ways of living. Packing light allows you to be flexible and nimble with your travel plans, especially if you don’t know what your housing situation will be when you first arrive.


Make Sure You Have All The Documentation You Need

Visas, work permits, passports, vaccination reports and birth certificates are all documents that may be required when you move internationally. Make sure to check expiration dates as well as the different documents that you will need for different situations. If you are planning on employment overseas it’s good to know what options may and may not be available.

It’s possible to move to Germany without a job, for example, but you’ll have an easier time finding work if you not only speak the language but have employment permits in place before you go.


Take Time To Learn The Language

You don’t have to be fluent in the language to move to another country, but being familiar with the language certainly helps. Knowing how to communicate even on the most basic of levels is a game changer, and will make you feel more comfortable and more in control of your new situation.  Don’t be afraid to speak with natives either. Most people are very open to communicating with you when you make an effort to speak their language.

Understanding the basics of customs in your new country will also make you feel more comfortable.  Tipping in restaurants and bars can be very different than what you are used to, so don’t be afraid to ask. If you are traveling and moving internationally by yourself take the time to familiarize yourself with your new environment and seek out trusted people who can tell you areas that may not be safe during certain hours. While this can be a good time to practice your language skills, make sure you fully understand what they are saying so you don’t put your safety in jeopardy.


Making Friends Makes The Experience More Fun

One of the hardest things about moving abroad is leaving your friends behind. When you are getting settled in your new country, make friends with the locals. Talk with the familiar faces in the coffee shop or grocery store. Branch out beyond the Americans in the city so you can really get to know your new home. Consider using a dating app to arrange meet-ups with locals who are similar in age and interest to you. They can help you identify local hot spots where you can meet new friends and expand your accessibility to the area.

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