7 Tips for Moving Overseas

Relocating to a new city is a challenge. Relocating to a new country is an even bigger one. Immersing yourself in a new culture is exciting, but there are some practical considerations as well ‒ filing paperwork, finding a home, and making friends. Following our tips for moving overseas will help you adapt to your new home with minimal difficulty, leaving you free to focus on the exciting journey ahead.

Get Your Paperwork in Order

Immigration laws differ significantly between countries. Some have a points-based system focused on job skills, language proficiency, and character assessments, while others only grant residency to applicants with employer sponsorship or who agree to invest in the local economy. Whether you’re moving alone or bringing a spouse, children, or pet will also affect the amount of documentation required. Depending on your situation, you may need to provide:

  • Visa
  • Passport
  • Customs Forms
  • Immunization Records
  • Birth Certificates
  • Social Security Card
  • Drivers License
  • Divorce Papers
  • Marriage License
  • Child Custody Papers

For accurate, up-to-date information regarding immigration paperwork, contact the embassy or immigration office of your desired country. An immigration specialist can also help you navigate the bureaucracy. Most are licensed attorneys working for law firms, consulates, or non-profit organizations.

Find Housing

Finding safe, affordable housing in a foreign country takes considerable time and effort. Most experts recommend starting the search at least six months before your departure date. The best strategy is to hire a real estate agent, someone who knows the area and can help you find a neighborhood that fits your budget. Renters can get by living in a hotel for a few weeks while they search for a place to live, but anyone planning on purchasing a house will need to fly out ahead of time to tour the property and complete the paperwork.

Besides researching neighborhoods, research the city’s realtors. Though most are reputable, a few have been known to disguise unnecessary fees as a “foreigner’s tax.” If you don’t know anyone in the area, reach out to expat groups for their advice. They’ll not only have invaluable, local insight, but they should also be able to direct you to an honest agent who can guide you through the process.

Grow Your Savings

Overseas moves are expensive. You’ll not only need to pay a moving company to transport your belongings, but you may even need to provide proof of financial stability when you arrive. Create a budget and consider what expenses you can cut in the months leading up to your departure. Some experts recommend setting money aside in a savings account, separating it from your normal income so you won’t be tempted to spend it. Some even suggest taking on a second job. Though extra work may be taxing, the additional funds will provide the freedom to live and travel without restrictions.

Organize Income Before You Go

In many cases, in order to immigrate to a new country, you need a certified job offer from a local employer. Other countries grant residency to remote workers, but only if their job pays enough to live on. Retirees are generally required to submit financial documents, such as bank statements, pension award letters, or social security records as proof of income.

However, there are a few countries that will accept immigrants without a job or pension (New Zealand, Canada, and Mexico, for example). In those cases, you’ll want to establish some kind of income to help make ends meet until you find employment. Many immigrants find work as a contractor through the internet. Though it doesn’t pay as well as a full time position, it'll help make ends meet until you find something more permanent.

Branch Out to Make New Friends

Living in a new country can be an isolating experience. You’ve left behind your friends and family and in some instances, you might not even speak the language. Fortunately, making friends aboard isn’t any more challenging than making friends at home. A few good places to start:

  • Social Media. Scroll through Facebook and see if you’re friends with anyone living in your new country. While you might not be close, reach out and let them know you’re coming. They might be interested in meeting up to give you the inside scoop on your new home.
  • Join an Expat Group. There are Americans living in practically every country on Earth and they’re usually not hard to find. Go online and see if there are any expat groups operating in your city. In some places, expats from similar countries (e.g. England, Australia, United States) organize events and outings ‒ allowing you to make new friends and broaden your horizons at the same time.
  • Sign Up for a Language Class. Learning the local language not only helps you acclimate to your new surroundings, it’s also an opportunity to meet people in the same situation as yourself.
  • Focus on Your Hobbies. Bonding through shared activities is one of the best ways of making friends. If you have a favorite pastime, check to see if there are any organizations dedicated to it in your new town.

Research Etiquette in Your New Country

Studying the customs of your host country not only helps you fit into your new surroundings, it's also a sign of respect. Even if you misstep, people will appreciate the effort. It also helps you avoid giving offense. Many behaviors that are acceptable in America aren’t acceptable overseas. For example:

  • In Hungary, it’s bad luck to clink glasses when making a toast.
  • Wearing your shoes indoors is considered impolite in Asia and Scandinavia.
  • In America, a “thumbs up” is a positive gesture, but in the Middle East, it’s insulting.
  • Tipping is considered rude in Japan. Wait staff take pride in their work and don't expect extra compensation.
  • Finns dislike small talk. Remaining silent when you have nothing pertinent to say is viewed as a sign of thoughtfulness.

Understanding basic etiquette smoothes social interactions, helping you build positive relationships with the people you meet day-to-day. Learning how to greet people, share a meal, and celebrate holidays is the first step towards building a life in a new community.

Make Time For People Back Home

When you live abroad, staying in contact with friends and family in your old country can be a challenge. As there are often time differences involved, you might be waking up when they’re going to bed! Nonetheless, maintaining your relationships is one of the best ways of avoiding homesickness and preserving a healthy outlook. Even if there are scheduling difficulties, do your best to set aside time at least once a week to share your adventures and experiences with the people back home.

Help Moving Overseas

North American Moving Services has been helping families and individuals relocate to foreign countries for over 90 years. Whether it’s packing, storage, or customs, we have the knowledge, resources, and experience to make your transition as smooth and stress-free as possible. Contact us today for a free quote!