Wellbeing

Want To Move Overseas? Here’s What You Should Know First.

This is it – you’ve decided to move overseas. While it might seem scary, a world of unknown variables, there’s a lot to be excited about.

Moving abroad, whether for three months or three years, will open you up to life-changing experiences and opportunities. This is reason enough to take the plunge. You’re doing this, but there’s some planning to do to make the transition work.

So you’re moving overseas… but where?

So we know that you can’t connect all the dots with an iPhone. Weighing up the risks of moving overseas is tricky because, well, you can’t predict the future. Just doing what the hell you want is sometimes the only way.

Chances are you know exactly where. London, New York, Tokyo? Maybe you’d prefer a less-worn path and have a crack at rural life in Spain, or to chill by the Danish seaside. Either way, you’ve visualised where you want to go and that’s your starting point. Don’t back out.

But if you haven’t got a location just yet, it’s all good. Narrow down the options. Do you prefer a country where English is an official language? Do you care if it gets icy in winter? Are there friends or family already there? Decide what works for you and go for it.

Sort the basics

You won’t regret nailing this. While the experience will be a mixture of excitement, stress and exhilaration, research and planning can be dull but essential to making this work.

What do you need to know? Firstly, sort out the visa situation through the various online resources that can help you find out what’s needed. Cost of living is also important, particularly if you’ll be looking for work, but there are plenty of websites that can advise how much cash to save and how long it’ll realistically last. A city with insane expenses mightn’t be as appealing, so it’s a good idea to weigh that up.

Speaking of work, what’s the job market like there? Job boards are a good starting place to see what’s available, the income you’re likely to earn and if speaking a second language is required. It also pays to reach out to employers about sponsorship.

Decide on a timeframe

How long do you plan to stay? You might apply for a one-year working visa and know, right from the outset, that’s as long as you’ll stay. But if, for example, you’re entitled to citizenship in another country, then it might be a one-way-ticket situation with an undefined end date.

Having a timeframe can affect many aspects of life overseas. You might prefer to live off savings and return home when they run out, or really try to build a career instead. This links with the types of rental agreements you go for, day-to-day activities you do and the social habits you end up building.

Whether you’re studying, looking for a big career move, or simply searching for adventure, take a look at the options and establish a timeframe for your move – even if you change it later.

how to successfully move overseas

How good is the fit?

One easily overlooked part of moving overseas is how good the ‘fit’ is. Be sure to avoid surface-level stereotypes about other cultures as they’re loaded with presumptions. Although it’s a good idea to pick somewhere you’ve at least visited before, you should ultimately decide this fit for yourself.

With huge differences in culture, language and etiquette – not to mention being a long way from home – moving can be stressy. Just keep in mind that it’s not so easy to understand another culture until you’re in it. But if you’re willing to learn about a different way of life you will more easily connect with people in rewarding ways.

There’s no right or wrong here. Brushing up on your history, enrolling in a language course and connecting with the locals will be an eye-opening experience. You won’t regret it.

Plan well but don’t overthink

So you can’t connect all the dots just yet. There’s an element of risk. But this gives you something important – freedom of choice. After saving a bit of cash, investigating day-to-day details and weighing up the risks, there isn’t much more to think about. And honestly, thinking too much will kill the vibe. A thought-through plan is all you need. Carpe diem, mate.

There’s a saying in the startup world, one that hangs on the walls at Facebook HQ, that goes, “Done is better than perfect”. The idea is to put aside perfectionism and just get out there. It’s easier to work out the details at your destination than trying to connect dots on your iPhone.

If nothing else, you’ll have new life experiences overseas and these will stay with you. You’ll learn about another culture from the inside, but also about yourself. And if you happen to land a career-boosting job, or meet the love of your life, then that’s a big plus. But, at the very least, you’ve got a great idea and a lot of energy behind it. Don’t waste that wondering which colour greener grass is.


Omar Hamwi is an Australian writer living in Berlin, Germany. After starting his career as a newspaper reporter, he’s spent the past few years editing technology and lifestyle publications in Berlin’s startup scene.