7 things to consider before moving abroad

Living in another country offers a wide range of benefits. From gaining an international perspective to establishing friendships with people from different cultures, there are so many ways to grow while living abroad. That said, making an international move isn’t easy. To make it easier, we’ve included our 7 favorite tips and firsthand knowledge on how to move abroad.

 

1. Decide where you want to go

One of the first things to decide is knowing exactly where you want to go. There are many factors to consider: language spoken, cost of living, overall friendliness, housing availability, political stability, the expat community, climate, transportation infrastructure, access to medical care… the list goes on. Check out expat ratings to gain insight into life abroad in many different countries. You also might want to consider moving to a city where you have a family member or friend already living, to ease the process a little bit. Also, there are many countries where it’s very hard to get a work visa, which is something else that’s important to consider when planning how to move abroad.

 

2. Do an internship abroad

Going abroad through an internship is a great way to get your foot in the door at an international company in a different country. An internship abroad is also a way to test drive life abroad without making a major commitment. You can gain professional experience in a new setting and explore a different country without having to dive completely in.

 

3. Save up money beforehand

You want to be in a financially stable position before you move abroad, especially if you’re moving without a job lined up. Moving abroad comes with many costs. You’ll either have to spend money on furniture or pay extra for an apartment that comes with furniture. Flights can be pricey depending on where you’re going. You also should research cost of living and try to establish a budget when figuring out how to move abroad.

 

how to move abroad

 

4. Figure out when to go

Deciding when is a good time to move abroad can be tricky. There’s a lot to consider. You probably don’t want to leave during the holidays or family gatherings back home. Also, depending on the severity of the cold, you also might not want to move somewhere new in the winter. Summer and spring are more exciting times to be anywhere new because they tend to be more social seasons, so it’s easier to make friends. Remember seasons might be different depending on which hemisphere you’re in. Also, there are always time periods when it’s easier to find housing, so that might be another factor to keep in mind when picking a date.

 

5. Know which job opportunities are available

Unless you’re not planning on working while abroad and have plenty of money saved, it’s important to pick a country and city where you know you can find work. There are many cities around the world where it’s very easy to find English teaching jobs, for example, where an English language company will hire you and help you with your visa. You can also check for jobs in your field. If you speak the local language and are fluent in English, there will be more opportunities available to you. Another option is to work remotely for a job in your home country, though sometimes visas are hard to get in that case.

 

6. Research the culture and safety before you go

It’s important to move somewhere you could feel comfortable. Culture shock is hard enough to deal with, but if you’re also ridden with security fears, you’re going to find it very difficult to relax. You should also find out how other expats have felt in the country by reading blogs, while keeping in mind that each experience is subjective. Be mindful of the specific neighborhoods mentioned in articles – every city has its rough parts.

 

how to move abroad

 

7. Pack smart

When you’re putting together your luggage, you want to bring only the necessities. Expect to buy some clothes once you fully move in.  Bring items you might not be able to find or that might be a lot more expensive, like creams and lotions, tampons, coffee beans, etc. Always pack a good jacket and clothes that can be layered. And lastly don’t forget your adaptors.

 

Now that you know how to move abroad, take the first step by applying for an international internship!

 

Photos

1. based on Airplane, by Tracy Hunter, CC-by-2.0

2. based on Going Home, by Marco Nürnberger, CC-by-2.0

3. based on Suitcase, by Mandy Prowse, CC-by-ND 2.0

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The International Internships Blog is a collaboration by The Intern Group staff, alumni and current participants to give you career advice & tips, program information, & so much more!

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Elizabeth Trovall

After short stints in Argentina and Belize, Elizabeth is finishing up her fourth year in Santiago, Chile. Elizabeth writes about international internships, life abroad and professional development for The Intern Group. She also reports on politics, business and culture in Latin America for public radio and print media. An Austin, Texas native, Elizabeth first left home to earn her journalism degree from the Reynolds Institute of Journalism at the University of Missouri. Besides her friends and family, she misses live music and Mexican food the most.

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