If you’ve always wanted to live in another country, but have got caught climbing the corporate ladder in your home country, it’s never too late to take a reality check and make the move abroad. If you have a family, the move will involve a lot more planning and consideration than if you are footloose and fancy-free. Don’t let this put you off, we’ve seen people become expats and thrive at every stage in life. However, before you throw caution to the wind and leave, consider taking a few sensible steps:
Things to consider before becoming an expat
Do some ‘inner work’
Ask yourself why you want to leave and write it down. Perhaps you want to advance your career, experience another culture or give your children a better start in life, whatever your reasons it’s important to document them before you make a single move. It’s essential that you are very honest with yourself and if you have a partner, discuss it with them. You both need to be on the same page and in agreement before you make this step.
Check out your new country
Your next step is establishing if your new country will welcome you. If your current company is not transferring you, you will have to see if you meet the country’s entry requirements. Many countries like Australia, New Zealand and Canada have a points system. Applicants who don’t have the required number of points will not be allowed to become permanent residents.
If you have established that you can immigrate, the next thing to do is research which city you would like to live in. If you’re not tied down to a specific company, you’re literally as free as a bird when making this decision. It’s important to ensure your new city has career opportunities available for someone with your qualifications and ticks other boxes that may be important to you.
Go on a look, see and decide trip
Once you’ve picked your country and your city, it’s important to see if it lives up to your expectations. Try to visit a number of cities, so you can compare the standards of living in each. Look at the local schools, the shops and all aspects of life. It’s helpful to have a list of things to explore before you arrive as visiting a new place can be completely overwhelming and you could lose track of what you should be focusing on.
One important tip here is ‘trust your gut’. First impressions are important so don’t try too hard to convince yourself that things will work out if your instincts are advising you against them. If you don’t have a job lined up, visit local recruitment agents and see what the job market looks like. If it is depressed, you might consider waiting a while until things improve.
Look at your budget
Work out how much this move is going to cost. Look at every detail from airfares to rental accommodation, furniture removal costs and every aspect of the move. Work out what your standard of living will be in your new country, based on an average income for your profession. If you’re going to remain as a resident in your home country, consider whether you will still be liable for tax.
Then if you are satisfied and have ticked all the boxes…it’s time to start on the paperwork – entry applications, visas, permits and more. But remember at the end of this paper mountain is the life of your dreams.