There are many reasons people choose to move abroad, from a change of culture to a need to live life to the fullest. If you’ve decided you want to escape your home town, or country, sometimes you just gotta do it.
But where to? Where can you go, how can you get there, and what do you need to do to make sure you’re comfortable when you get there? And how much does it cost to move abroad?
The world is an easier place to move around these days, pandemic notwithstanding. And whatever your goals in life, there are plenty of ways to go where you want and live a better life.
Why do you need to get away?
In the aftermath of Brexit in the UK, and the rise of the alt-right/MAGA situation in the USA, more people are searching for ‘get me out of here’ online. There is even a popular subreddit on the subject (which has inspired this article), called r/IwantOut.
The thing is, you don’t necessarily need to be stuck in a war zone to want to change your life for the better. It might be that you’re not comfortable with your local culture, you don’t agree with the way the government is moving things, or perhaps a more personal factor such as your sexuality, family issues or life goals.
So step one in any escape is to ask yourself:
- Why do I want to go somewhere else?
- What do I hope to achieve?
- What would be the ideal scenario when I get to where I’m going in one year/two years/five years etc.
The reason to ask yourself these questions is to help you put yourself in the right mindset.
It can also help you to focus your goals and work out what you need to get to where you wanna go.
Choosing where to go
The world is a big place, and there are lots of places we can escape to. They might be in your own country, they might be further afield.
When moving countries remember that a change of culture can be a shock to the system. Even if you’ve travelled before, living somewhere new is a whole different experience.
Organising a place to live, working, paying your taxes, buying food, making friends…. It’s all totally different when you live there.
Having said that, choosing your place to escape to is a personal choice. And one that depends greatly on the passport you hold.
For example, if you’re British, moving to Europe isn’t so easy any more. But some countries do still make it quite simple, such as Portugal and Croatia. That said, you can move to places with long stay visas such as Mexico or Indonesia.
Americans might find it easier to move to Mexico or Central America instead of Europe.
And if you’re from Africa or Asia, there are many countries which might welcome you without too big a journey. Indians for example often head to Vietnam or Thailand, and Nigerians and Kenyans head to places like the Middle East, Europe and neigghbouring countries.
How to choose where to go:
- Which country allows holders of your passport to stay the longest, or visa free entry?
- If you need a visa, what are the requirements? Can you enter on a long term visa such as for students or investors?
- Do you have a job or income that can support you while you establish yourself in your new home? Or will you need a job… If so…
- What are the job and work prospects like for immigrans and expats such as yourself?
- Is there a good expat network in your target location?
Remember, finding somewhere to stay and having health insurance is usually a minimum requirement for long term visas. Make sure to organise these before you step foot in your new country too.
Your move abroad budget
Let’s be honest here, upping sticks and moving abroad isn’t cheap. Yes you can move on a budget, but you’re going to need some money as a safety net, especially in the short term.
So how much do you need to move abroad?
It varies depending on where you’re going, if you’re travelling by air or land, the costs where you’re going, and so on.
Costs to bear in mind are:
- Your transport to your destination
- The cost to ship your stuff, or store your stuff at home if you’re not taking it with you
- Cost of accommodation for at least three months* (see below)
- Set up costs such as bills, house furnishings, cellphone, internet etc
- Living costs while you establish yourself, including food, transport, socialising etc
This is not an exhaustive list of cost that you might incur when you make your move. But these are often the bare minimum you should expect to pay out when you’re planning to move abroad.
If you’re moving as a single person also your costs can be streamlined. If you’re moving with family you might also need to take into consideration additional costs like school or nursery costs, toys and amusements for the kids and other extras.
So you’ve decided where to go, you’ve got your money and you’re ready to go. How do you go about finding somewhere to live?
Most people when moving somewhere abroad will use Airbnb or perhaps stay in a hotel or hostel until they find somewhere suitable. These options can be very expensive to rely on for the long run.
Facebook Marketplace can be a good way to find reasonably priced accomodation at source. There are normally also expat groups for countries and major cities where you can ask advice about finding accommodation.
I mentioned above about having a budget for three months rent at least. This is because you’ll normally need at least one month for your Airbnb/initial home.
Once you find somewhere more solid, you will most likely need to pay a deposit (one month up front) plus your first months rent. Some places may ask that you pay for six months or more up front, especially if you’re not a legal resident yet.
Be wary of agreeing to move into somewhere without seeing it first. You should always check out your rental property in advance before handing any money over.
If you’re moving full time to a new country, check out the legalities before you leave. There are often requirements to register with your local authorities, apply for specific visas and other rules to follow.
Falling foul of these rules when you move abroad can trip you up and cause more than just headaches.
Often there are local agencies to help you relocate and get official quickly. Yes, they cost money, but it can be money well spent.
Speak to those expat groups, search for relocation agencies in your target location and ask lots of questions.
What to do for work & money?
There are numerous digital jobs we can do online these days. But if you’re not a remote worker, and you’re planning to move abroad and find a job, what can you do?
It will of course also depend on your visa situation.
For example, many countries will allow you to visit on a tourist visa but stipulate that you cannot work while in the country. Some may be a little more relaxed about this. There is also a growing roster of countries offering digital nomad visas for remote workers.
Again, communicate with expat groups in advance of your arrival and see what the recommendations are. Research the employment situation and you never know what you might find.
If you’re planning to move abroad, especially somewhere where you don’t speak the language, it’s highly recommended to establish yourself as a self-employed or freelance worker before you set off.
Adapting to your new life
Lets not sugarcoat this. Moving abroad is great fun, but can also be quite stressful. At times it can even be quite lonely if you don’t know anyone in your new place.
Even if you meet some great people, often the expat community is transient, so people you meet can move on leaving you friendless.
Being social is obviously a great way to meet the locals. Perhaps learning the local language, taking part in community activities, cultural events and throwing yourself into the local scene will all help. But it can be hard, and also expensive.
However, if you’re craving a new life, making the move is very worth it.
So whether you’re heading to Costa Rica or Croatia, Thailand or Tenerife, good luck with your move! Come back and tell us how it went.