You’ve been planning a move halfway across the world. You’ve already got everything mapped out, gave your notice at work and to your landlord. All that’s left now is packing your bags and jumping on that plane.
Before you make that leap it’s important that you take some things into consideration before moving to a new country.
From my experience there are a few things I think everyone should take seriously before uprooting your life to a foreign land.
Here are five things I wanted to share that are important before you make your move.
1. Cost of Living
This is one of the most important things you should be considering before moving to another country.
Taking the time to research the average cost of living should be at the top of your list. Knowing what to expect when it comes to rent, food, insurance and other amenities will help you to plan a budget and also consider if it’s a place you can live comfortably.
Some people are willing to sacrifice living in an expensive city in exchange for having access to quality entertainment, events and culture. Financial planners often say you shouldn’t spend more than 30% of your monthly salary on housing, yet many major cities like New York, San Francisco and Toronto have residents spending up to half their income on housing. Weigh the pros and cons and decide what’s most important to you.
If you’ve saved money in the currency of your home country before the move, it’s to your advantage if its value is more than the place you’re moving to. It will help you stay ahead during your first few months transitioning.
The exact opposite is true if your money is valued at a lower rate. The money will go quickly, so having more saved would be beneficial.
One of the main reasons people relocate their lives to a new country is for career opportunities. You may have been given a company transfer or perhaps you’ve been offered the job of a lifetime. If that’s the case, then moving won’t be as big of a transition because you’ll have your workdays and income to support yourself all sorted out. In many cases the company even supports your move with assistance in travel and accommodation. That’s half the battle with a major move.
Your new colleagues will be a large part of your day and it will be helpful getting information from them about places to go and where to find some of the important things around town.
3. What Are You Leaving Behind?
Moving to a new country means going somewhere where you’ll be starting fresh. You’ll be leaving behind friends, family and relationships you may have forged for a lifetime.
Going somewhere new means starting from scratch. Are you ready to do that? Meeting new friends, making new career connections and establishing new relationships will have to be a conscious effort. It’s easy for some, but not for everyone. As you get older it’s more of a challenge to meet people particularly since you’re not crossing paths with new people the way you did in school or as a youth.
If you’re comfortable leaving what you have right now behind, then moving to another country won’t be as difficult. These days it’s easy to stay connected with your friends and family anyway because there are so many tools for communication.
4. Culture Shock
You may have romanticized what it’s like to live the life in a city you’ve seen in movies and on television. Let’s take Paris for instance. The city of love, romance, art and fashion. You’ve seen it over and over in pop culture and you’ve already imagined what life would be like living in the romantic city.
Hold on. Real life isn’t like the movies. If you’ve grown up in some small town in middle America, you can rest assured that there will be some culture shock when you make the move to another country. Even if you think you know it all.
Anytime you move to another country, it’s only natural that you should expect both subtle and drastic changes in lifestyle. Be prepared to make the adjustments. Where language may be a barrier, you will need to be willing to learn another language. It can be quite isolating if you don’t speak the main language of a particular country.
I knew an American who upon moving to Poland for his work, was forced to learn how to speak Polish. It was frustrating for him to only be able to have conversations with 3 of his colleagues. He couldn’t rely on always having a translator with him and thus learned one of the most challenging languages.
Be open to change and adapt to your new environment.
5. Health Care
If you’re generally a healthy person, this may be the last thing on your mind, but it’s very important for you to consider how you’ll handle unexpected health issues.
Some countries have poor access to adequate health facilities, making it a risk to live there if you already have pre-existing health challenges. Lack of medical care could end up being your worst nightmare. Be cautious about where you’re dreaming of living if health is a big concern.
Some countries have expensive medical care which means having a good insurance plan ahead of time would be to your benefit. Take the time to investigate your options and plan ahead so you make sure your health is take care of in your new home country.
The health care system in the country you’re planning a move to should be carefully examined and taken into consideration with your decision to go there.
Proceed with caution particularly when moving to developing nations that are known to have challenges within their health systems.