When you really have the travel bug, you may decide that a short visit to another country isn’t long enough. If you prefer a longer stay, you could choose to attend graduate school overseas, or – if you happen to work for a company with offices abroad – you could ask for a transfer to a different country.
There’s a lot to consider when uprooting and moving to another country. So before you make any decisions, read the following advice.
Make sure your finances are in order. Even if you pick a country with a much lower cost of living than the United States, you’ll need to have a job to support yourself. Other alternatives include moving for retirement and living off your savings, or living abroad as a graduate student and taking out loans to fund your stay. If you’re going to work, you’ll need to have a work visa in the country you’re moving to before you’ll be eligible for employment. Of course, if your existing company is relocating you, you probably won’t have to worry about employment and income.
Establish a bank account. You’ll want to maintain a bank account and credit card in the United States, in addition to getting local accounts in the country you’re moving to. You don’t want to be constantly exchanging currency, so it’s simpler to have an account in the U.S. for any financial obligations or income there and a separate account for your living expenses and daily life abroad. Pick your accounts in the U.S. carefully before you move, because it’s difficult to establish them after you move abroad. Choose your bank account abroad based on reputation and accessibility, using a major financial institution if possible.
Get medical insurance. Your insurance policy in the U.S. probably won’t cover you once you’re living abroad, so you’ll need to get medical insurance specifically designed for expatriates living abroad. Even if you plan to apply for citizenship in the country you’re moving to and eventually get insurance through that government, you’ll need a policy to tide you over in the meantime. This is especially important if you’re moving to a less developed country where you may be exposed to environmental hazards or illnesses that aren’t common in the U.S.
Find housing. Your last step before moving is to figure out where you’re going to live. Often, you have to save this until shortly before you move, or even find temporary housing for when you first arrive, until you can scope out a more permanent residence. Choose a neighborhood based on amenities, proximity to public transportation, safety and proximity to your work. If you already have a job, you can ask your employer for assistance finding a suitable home or apartment to rent. Be ready to put down a security deposit and the first and last month’s rent when you sign your lease.
Moving abroad is a huge adventure, so don’t get too bogged down in the details. A lot of what you’ll need to know, you’ll learn from colleagues, coworkers or friends as you acclimate to your new surroundings.