How to make the expat life work for you

The essential checks when getting ready to move

Being an expat is a great experiance.

Travelling and experiencing different cultures and getting paid for it.

As someone who loves to travel, for me it doesn’t get any better.

Everywhere you move opens up new and different opportunities.

One thing stays the same though…

Whether its your first time or your an experienced member of the expat circus.

The preparation you put into the move, will make or break the experiance.

Too often people hate their new location. It’s not an uncommon feeling and almost always its because they didn’t prepare.

Think about it?

Moving is one of the most stressful things we humans do. Moving to a new country, new language and new culture doesn’t make the process any easier.

The good news is it doesn’t have to be that way. We can do some basic research to prepare for the move to make it so much easier.

1. Research the Country on Wikipedia

Sounds simple I know, but this is a good place to start. Often a company asks us to go somewhere and we know roughly where that place is on a map, but that’s about it.

The basic facts you need to know are all in Wikipedia, that goes for the country your moving to and the city. Weather, history, population size, transportation, all this information is available in Wikipedia.

2. Join an expat group

Social media is your best resource here and its free. Join an expat group specific to the country and the city your moving to and start asking questions.

In these groups you may have to filter out some of the info you get. But in general, cost of living, entertainment, quality of life, schooling. The group will have the answers to these questions.

You also get the bonus of cultivating new friendships you can pick up in person on your arrival in country.

3. Check the visa requirements

Always a tricky one.

The visa process is the thing which creates hold ups for any potential move.

The key here is to research what’s required and don’t rely on your employer to tell you.

Worse than a big delay for the whole family is when one person goes to start work and the rest of the family have to follow.

Being informed and prepared to work through the visa process, avoids this issue.

4. Travel Connections and costs

Depending on where you will be moving to this is one that can catch you out.

Pre-2008 this wasn’t much of an issue. Companies provided plenty of free flights for their expats.

Nowadays its one flight per year. You are going to want to travel around more than that, and go home at least once. Do the research and make sure that its affordable.

You don’t want to find that all the sacrifice and working away from the family doesn’t cover your travel.

Make sure you know your costs before you commit.

5. Life doesn’t just happen at home…

Life doesn’t stop because your living abroad. You may be planning for children or marriage etc.

Plan upfront, your embassy will be able to tell you the services they offer. If you have a child in country or want to get married for example having a plan for that will set you up for success.

I have friends who had a child in country, then were stuck in country for 6 months.

The reason?

They didn’t plan upfront for passports, birth certificates etc. for their newborn. It was all done at the last minute as they didn’t think it would an issue.

Some research before hand would have avoided a lot of stress.

Final Thought’s

Having the opportunity to live and work as an expat is an honor.

It’s also great fun and a fantastic experiance.

Preparing for that change and the place you will be moving to, will make or break your experiance.

Doing the research and working out if its the right move for you, is key.

If it doesn’t look right for you, it isn’t. Other opportunities will present themselves over time.

That said, it if it’s the right for you then go for it.

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