Moving abroad has such a nice ring to it, evoking images of exotic locations, romantic interludes while dedicating yourself to that chateau fixer-upper, and time spent wandering down ancient paths in search of that elusive something. But the reality of moving abroad can be much different than fancy notions and pleasant daydreams. In addition to visas and residency permits, there are a myriad of practical and emotional issues to consider before deciding to pack it all up and fly away.
Your Problems Will Move With You
Everybody wants to run away from their problems on occasion. And while it may seem like moving to another country will be the ultimate escape from reality, your problems will follow you to your new destination. A new exotic address may distract you from anxiety or depression for a period of time, but once the novelty wears off, the underlying problem will still be there. The same goes for restlessness or longing for change. Once the situation isn’t new and exciting anymore, the issues that took you there can reappear in spades.
Moving to Another Country Can Be Lonely
Our friends and colleagues are the backbone of our days. Of course you’ll make new friends when you move abroad, but there may be periods of loneliness when you think about the relationships you have left behind. If you are prepared for the times when you feel homesick, it can make the loneliness of being a stranger in a new country less intense.
Adapting to a new culture can also cause bouts of loneliness and insecurity. Knowing some of the language before you go can help, as can reading and learning about the country you are moving to. Try to get a sense of history about the city or area in which you will be living. If you love going to coffee houses, try sourcing popular cafes in the area so you have a place to consider as a home base for a familiar routine as you get your bearings in a foreign country.
Consider the FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) Factor
Life goes on even after you have left. Friends will get engaged and married, your family will still have holidays together, and funerals will take place. If you are overly concerned about missing out on significant events, maybe moving to another country isn’t the best thing for you to do.
It’s important to remember that going home is likely going to be a time consuming and expensive adventure, so make sure that you take the time to consider how you’re going to feel if you can’t take part in events that you would be an integral part of if you lived closer.
Job Security Is Important
If you’re moving abroad to work for a company that is a foreign-based company or is a company that is new for you, do your homework and make sure you understand the parameters of your employment. Is the position a temporary one, a contract or freelance job, or is there an employment contract? Understanding what you have been hired to do and for how much money is critical. It’s also critical to make sure you understand the rules and regulations surrounding your work permit, which may be limited to one specific company or industry. Some countries, particularly English speaking ones, are easier to move to than non-English speaking countries.
Not all companies or organizations adhere to the same employment standards you may be used to, nor does every employer use the same terminology as US companies. Make sure you understand what is and isn’t involved in any employment contract. Suddenly finding yourself in a foreign country with tenuous employment can be a frightening situation, especially considering the expenses you have likely incurred just getting there.
Can You Afford To Move Abroad?
This includes airfare, shipping costs, housing, utilities, work permits, and visas. They all add up, and depending on the country you are moving to, expenses can sometimes outweigh the benefits of moving. Regardless of whether or not you have a job secured, spend some time researching housing options. Research what is included in rent, like utilities, wifi, security, etc. You may find that the cost of living abroad is significantly higher than your current living situation, which can lead you to question if the opportunity is really worth it.
Also consider what you are going to take with you and how it’s going to get there. Shipping packages internationally can be prohibitively expensive, and the transportation time may have to be factored in as part of the cost.
Moving abroad can be a wonderful and exciting adventure for many people. While there isn’t a best country for Americans to move to, some places will be easier than others. You may decide that you are happier abroad than you are at home, but it’s best to arrive at this decision after careful planning and consideration.