You finally made one of the biggest decisions in your life: you are moving abroad. This brings both excitement and dread that may block your senses what to do next. Actually, there are several things you need to do before you start packing or booking a flight. Don't despair, because we got you covered with a few tips on how to prepare for working abroad.
Start with research
You may know something about the country you are going to live in, but you should still do thorough research. Remember that you are not a tourist and you need to have more facts to know what to expect.
Sign up for groups and message boards that discuss topics you are interested in, like the best neighborhood to live in or local customs. Visit blogs, watch travel videos, and read the guides to collect every piece of information possible. Additionally, it may help you meet people from the country of interest before arriving and have familiar faces to socialize with there.
Learn basic pleasantries in the new language
The local population loves when you know some words and phrases in their language. It shows your interest in their culture and can make you more likable for trying. Language is the key factor to form a connection with your country of interest.
You can have language lessons or use an app to cover basic knowledge. Once you arrive at your new home, you should take the language more seriously and be determined to master it. This is where classes for foreigners may come useful or you can apply for online courses to save time.
Don’t be startled by the cultural shock
It's different to read about something and to experience it. Regardless of how much you learned about your country of interest, there is always going to be a little cultural shock involved. At first, the adrenalin of being surrounded by newness will overpower the homesickness. However, when it wears out, you may start to feel out of place and lonely.
This is normal. It’s all part of the process of adjusting to your new home and accepting the change. Meeting other expats and foreigners may help, but also go and explore as much as you can. It will preoccupy your mind and bring you closer to the culture that surrounds you.
Make arrangements at home
Just like taking care of your business in the country of interest, you need to make certain arrangements at home. If you are renting, you need to inform your landlord that you are moving and that they will need new tenants. In case you are a homeowner, you can lease your place or have someone live there or visit, a friend or a family member, while you are away.
You also need to arrange the paying of bills by asking providers to send them to you electronically or seeing that someone does it for you. Consult with your banker on how to manage your finances and transfer money to someone to cover the expenses for you. Moreover, find out everything you can about currencies, banks, and money transfers in the country of interest.
Find out everything about visa requirements
There are several types of visas you are issued based on your business in the country of interest. If you are not familiar with visa regulations, it’s best to consult an immigration lawyer and let them help you with the application process. They will advise you what documentation to send, explain the legal aspects, fill out the forms, and bridge the language barrier.
A lot can depend on whether you have an employer in that country or you are going to move there as an expat. So, the sooner you have all the details about visa requirements the better.
Collect information on the tax
Depending on the laws in your country of residence, you may have to notify the tax authorities that you are leaving. This may exempt you from additional taxes while out of the country. However, you also need to see how to report your taxes in the country of interest.
Sometimes, you may have to pay taxes in both countries depending on your job abroad. Talk to other people in a similar situation and get professional help to get everything in order in time. Failing to fulfill your tax obligation in any of the countries may cause penalties and serious expanses.
Moving your pet abroad
Pets are our family members so it’s normal to want to take them with you. This one may require some early planning, though. Ask your vet or relevant authority about the requirements to move your pet abroad. Most certainly they need to have a microchip and immunization against rabies at least three weeks before the trip.
If you are traveling by plane, make sure that you know the company’s regulations for pet travel before you book a ticket. Transportation crate, food, and water are also something to think about, especially if your pet will travel separately from you. Some countries may ask that your pet spends time in quarantine and you may have to prepare for that as well.
Let it settle for six months
Moving abroad is a challenge that will make you reconsider your choice over and over again. Whenever it gets hard, you will want to pack your bags and go back home. Before you do anything rash you may regret later, set a timeframe for your adjustment. Six months is a reasonable period to see if you should stay or go from the country of interest.
If by the end of these six months you still don't have any weekend plans, friends, and feel even slightly won over, it's time to return home. However, for most people, six months is more than enough to get used to their new home and everything that comes with it.
The bottom line
A lot of people today decide to leave their country and move to another to be an expat. Although it may sound simple, there are still things to know about working abroad. Use this list to make this move as smooth as possible so you can settle in and enjoy your new life.