How Do You Move Abroad?
So, how do you move abroad? If you are moving abroad, then you may be confused at how to prepare yourself for the big move. This is especially relevant if you are moving for the first time. In some instances, it may even be hard to access information in your language. How prepared you are for your move affects how stressful it’s going to be once you arrive.
The way I moved abroad was unconventional in the sense that it was extremely last minute. I moved abroad with barely any money. I didn’t have a job, a house or any plans in place for that move. So, I was extremely fortunate for it all to work out, but it could have gone sour very fast.
So here are 10 things to get you started. If you manage to get all 10 in the bag, then your move should go very smoothly. These are to do with what you should prepare in the country you are moving to. Not what you should do in your own country now (such as putting your new address on the electoral register for example). Some of them may seem obvious, but especially for a first-timer, it can be easy to miss something. So, without further ado, how do you move abroad?
1. Sort Your Accommodation Well in Advance
I can’t stress this enough and the urgency all depends on where you are moving to. I moved to Holland, which is very densely populated and there is a housing shortage. It’s so bad, that even students had nowhere to go. Universities had to erect tents up to house them all. So yeah, do your research. If you find that the country is densely populated, then do make this your number 1 priority.
Bear in mind that in many instances, you will have to prove that you can afford the rent. Usually, you have to have a guarantor, a lot of savings, a decent paying job or sometimes all three depending on how strict they are. I only managed to get my house without any of those things because the guy was desperate to get rid of the property. I was very fortunate in this case, but many people are not.
2. Take a Lot of Money with You
It’s not like when you go travelling and if you run out of money, you can just go home. Of course, you can in theory just run out of money and come home, but if you’ve signed a rental agreement or you’ve just purchased a home, you can’t just leave. If you’re moving abroad for real, that’s your life now and you need to have to finances to prepare for anything. You could lose your job, your boiler could break, your car could need repairs or you need to pay for healthcare. You just don’t know. Always be prepared for this, especially if you are moving abroad!
3. Pack Light
One thing you definitely notice once you move is just how much you hoard absolute crap. This is even more noticeable when you move overseas as you generally have to condense your packing. I moved with 2 suitcases and nothing else and even then I realised that I honestly could have probably just gone with one. You’ll find plenty more things to buy once you arrive at your new home, so don’t cling on to things just for the sake of it. I guarantee you won’t miss it and if you take it, you’ll only end up chucking it away anyway.
How do you move abroad? A lot more easily if you pack light!
4. Make Sure You’ve Got All of Your Documents (With Copies)
When I say all of your documents, I mean ALL of your documents. Even things like your academic certificates. You really never know when or if you’re going to need them. Then you’re going to absolutely kick yourself if you don’t bring them with you. If it’s super important, then depending on where you live, it can be an absolute pain to get back.
I also recommend that you extensively look up what documents you need when registering in your new country. I even mean all of the small print. I’d taken my birth certificate to the Netherlands with me and once I got to the desk when I was trying to register to the country, I was told that I needed to have it legalised with an Apostle. I had to pay to send it back to the UK, wait and then they had to send it back (and it wasn’t cheap either). Save yourself the trouble and do all of that first. This is actually a common mistake people make.
5. Try and Sort a Job in Advance
I know this isn’t always possible, but it can be very risky moving abroad without any means of income, for obvious reasons. It makes finding a property easier, living in general much easier and also makes finding another job easier. So even if something comes up job wise that you may not be for you, it can always just be a starting point for you to find something new while you earn some money. Even if this means cleaning toilets (a job is job for now)! (This is also true for enrolling your child into a school – do this as soon as you can).
6. Be Aware of the Procedures to Register to That Country
‘How do you move abroad?’ I asked the internet. I was told that to move to the Netherlands I’d have to register my residence. As I was an EU national, I didn’t have to apply for a permit, so I just had to make an appointment at my local town hall and ‘register’ myself to the country so I was on file. This involves turning up with all legal documents (including appointment confirmation, passport, birth certificate, rental agreement and a marriage certificate).
However, what I didn’t know was that there was a 3 and a half week waiting time to attend this appointment. Without this appointment, I wouldn’t have a social security number, which means that I couldn’t do simple tasks like open a bank account (making paying for rent, bills and healthcare difficult). I ended up arriving and having to wait longer than expected, making finances (and everything else) very difficult.
Please thoroughly research what you need to do in order to register to a country (including how long it takes). When you move, you will be required to do this as you’ll need to have a social security number, so you are on file. If you need to make an appointment, pretend to book one and see when you can – this will give you an idea of waiting times so you can time it just right for when you arrive. In some instances, you can do it before you go.
7. Have a Currency-Friendly Bank Card
When you first move, you’ll have to open a bank account. Unless you have sorted all of your documents, this may not happen straight away, especially if registration is taking time. Also, your money at this point is probably still in another currency, waiting to be moved over to your new foreign bank account anyway. It’s advisable to move abroad with a bank card which doesn’t change you crazy fees for paying for things in another currency. Online-only bank accounts are good for this if your banks at home aren’t good.
It’s also worth researching what cards are accepted in the country. Maestro is the card of choice in the Netherlands and I was surprised to learn that a few years ago when I moved, Visa was not even accepted everywhere. Some places even charged a fee to use it. So make sure you research this before you go!
A British credit card was an absolute lifesaver when we first moved here and if we didn’t do this, we would have been in trouble.
8. Learn the Language Straight Away
Okay, so when you first arrive, you’re literally raring to go. I remember sticking sticky notes around the whole house on every piece of furniture with the Dutch word on it. Sadly they kept falling off and I got completely confused. You find at the beginning you pick a lot up just by doing basic things like shopping and driving. Also just simply walking around your new city. You pick up names of things, so it feels like you’re doing so well.
I made the fatal error of 1. Only thinking the set up was temporary (because initially, it was), so I didn’t make much of an effort after the first couple of months and 2. Falling for the whole Brexit thing for the past 2 years, not making a decision about whether it’s time to come home (even though deep down I know that it’s not going to happen). Now I feel like I’m back where I started and I have so many regrets at being naive about how fast time goes. Learning a language with lessons is a costly investment, but it’s something you should definitely start ASAP to make it truly worth it. It may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how fast time flies.
How do you move abroad? A lot more easily if you learn the language right away!
9. Join Facebook Groups (Or Similar) with Internationals in Your New Country
Facebook groups (and similar) are an absolute saving grace when you first move. I never thought about doing it until I had to join some for my job to share guides. You can ask basically anything before you go, with almost instant answers from people who have been there. From where the cheapest place to buy furniture is, to what the best bank is. It’s also great when it comes to networking and also prepping yourself for your move.
A simple search on Facebook can sometimes bring up over 100 results. Pick the largest group and join a few others. I’ve learnt so much from these groups and given my own advice to people asking questions.
10. Make Sure You Check the Health Insurance Policies
Different countries haven’t different systems of healthcare and vary considerably in price. This is research that shouldn’t be taken lightly, as especially if you have complex healthcare issues or you are retiring (therefore may develop serious complications in the future). Sometimes you are not required to take out healthcare insurance on day one and in some countries, you have to do it the moment you arrive in the country, so make sure to check what the rules are.
One piece of advice I can give, is it you are from an EU country and are moving to another EU country, then get a European Health Insurance Card. This will usually cover you throughout the whole of Europe up until the point you are legally required to open a health insurance policy from the country you are moving to.
So here are the 10 things you really should get sorted before you move. What other tips would you give someone who is planning on moving abroad? Drop it in the comments! Check out my previous article or follow me on Facebook.