Moving abroad can be the adventure of a lifetime; a chance to shake of the shackles of home and reinvent yourself or to broaden your horizons. People move abroad for work, for love, for sunshine or quite simply for an experience. If you are considering taking the plunge, allow us to help you to weigh up the pros and cons of living abroad.
Depending on where you are coming from, the local cost of living may affect your quality of life. People often relocate to capital cities for work and may find that they can no longer afford the little luxuries they enjoyed at home. In some cases the difference in cost of living may work in their favour, meaning that their salary goes a little further and that they have more leisure options than before.
For most people, one of the biggest drawbacks to moving abroad is leaving family and friends behind. This is undoubtedly a bit if a wrench and precisely what will make you feel like moving back home when you are having a bad day. Having said that, with low-cost flights readily available in Europe, it is possible to make regular trips home and family and friends are often happy for the excuse for a holiday.
The language barrier is also a significant drawback for many and can make even the most simple daily tasks daunting. Learning a new language however, is a source of personal growth and a highly-coveted ability in todays global society.
It is easy to find pros and cons to living in any country but moving abroad is an enriching experience which allows you to pick and choose aspects of different cultures for fuller, more satisfying living.
Take a look at our interview section where mums who have made the move talk about their real life experiences and may help paint a picture of what your life abroad could look like.
Once you have made up your mind to make the move, there are various things to bear in mind. Whatever your motivation to take this bold, live-changing move, this comprehensive checklist will make sure the only surprises you get during your move are good ones.
1) Have you chosen the right country?
Maybe you are destined for a particular country for work or family reasons or maybe you have simply chosen a particular country based on a gut feeling of what it could offer you in terms of quality of life. Whatever the reason, it is very important to invest some time in learning a little about your new host country, its people and its customs. If possible, visit it a few times before and get a feel for different areas. You may be moving to Spain for example but life in Granada, Barcelona, Madrid and Bilbao have very little in common. Be well-informed about the country's political climate, economy, health and education systems before you go to ensure that you will feel safe and happy in your new home.
2) Have you tied up all loose ends at home?
When you have moved abroad you will have plenty of challenges ahead of you in terms of paperwork and fine details; you do not want to add to this headache with loose ends that remain at home. Make sure you cancel services and contracts, give your new contact details to all the necessary people and inform all the relevant authorities. With all of these niggling details taken care of, you will be free to focus on what lies ahead of you.
3) Are you prepared for the culture shock and the language barrier?
Even if you are moving to an area which has an established expat community, it is important to be familiar with the cultural context you will be living in as this filters through to every aspect of daily life in a country. Understanding attitudes and social conventions is vital for feeling comfortable in a new country and making friends. The best way to learn a language is by spending time in the country; having said that, any study you can do before moving will help you greatly to settle in. Apart from being a highly practical advantage, learning the local language will enrich your experience of living abroad and your understanding of the culture you are living in.
4) Do you have a sound financial plan?
Be aware of prices, taxes and salary norms in your new country to make sure that life there is economically viable for you. If you are moving your family abroad for a new job, negotiate the conditions well; especially regarding notice should the contract be terminated. Spend a little time researching banks, options for transferring funds, health insurance funds and the cost of private schooling if they are factors that concern you.
5) Is everybody on the same page?
If you are moving abroad with your partner or family in tow, it is essential that all members feel positive about the move and that potential issues are discussed before moving. Moving abroad is an incredibly exciting adventure but it can be stressful at times. Speaking about fears and doubts before moving and ensuring that everyone has something to look forward to in their new place of residence will make the move a joint venture rather than a source of friction. If work/school is not an immediate option for certain members of the family, look at expat forums for info on local language courses and different leisure groups to provide a social network and much needed source of company and comfort on arrival.