Top 5 Things You Need to Consider When Moving Abroad

Top 5 Things You Need to Consider When Moving Abroad

Man waiting to travel abroad in airport

Moving abroad is exciting, fun, anxiety-inducing, stressful, and every adjective in between. When you decide to move abroad, whether it’s to work/study for a couple of years or stay for the long haul, there are a ton of things you need to consider. Planning your travels abroad is the fun part, but there are logistical tasks that need to be addressed to make your move abroad from the USA manageable. Trust me, speaking as a person who has moved abroad from the USA twice I have made all the mistakes you can and will help prevent you from doing the same. If you’re thinking “How do I move abroad?” then think of this as your moving abroad checklist.

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Moving Out

Before you actually spread your wings and move abroad from the USA you need to move out of your current space. Now, this may seem quite simple as you’ve probably moved before. However, remember that you’re moving to a whole new country and maybe even continent. There may even be an entire ocean, or two, between you and your past life.

So, it won’t be easy to just pack up all your things and bring them with you as it once was. Instead, you must seriously consider what items you actually need to bring with you abroad and what items can be stored/sold. For more on packing and storage tips check out “The Moving Process: When, Where, And How To Start Packing” by Aubrey Freitas on UniMovers!

I suggest laying out your essentials for moving abroad first in preparation for packing your belongings in backpacks suitcases and/or boxes. For me, the essentials were mostly clothing, footwear, some electronics, important documents, and toiletries.

However, my experiences moving abroad were for a relatively short amount of time (a year or less), and naturally, I chose to pack light. If you are moving abroad from the USA for a longer period of time you’ll likely need to ship or pack more.

However, I strongly advise you to bring as little as possible as you will be acquiring great new belongings while overseas. All the items you choose not to store, ship, or pack can be sold through a variety of retailers like Facebook Marketplace for some extra cash or you can donate them.

Finances

We’ll discuss one of the biggest expenses abroad in a different section, housing. So, let’s first consider your financial situation and how you can plan out costs before you leave. Step one should be researching the average costs of the city or region that you’re moving to.

Research average food costs, rent, utilities (gas, water, electricity), phone plans, etc. Compare these costs to what you pay now. Also, compare the salary you’re earning now and what you might be making abroad.

You should consider creating an excel budget sheet to help you keep track of monthly expenses and income. Don’t forget to budget some money for travel too! This will give you a good idea about how much of your savings you need to live comfortably in your new home and mentally prepare yourself for the expenses ahead.

Woman on a flight going  abroad

Opening a Bank Account Abroad

This is a crucial aspect of moving abroad because without a bank account seemingly menial tasks will give you headaches.

In many countries, you need a local bank account to put money down for a lease, buy a phone plan, pay for wi-fi, and of course receive your paycheck.

Opening a bank account should be a top priority upon arrival, but be careful! Banks offer different benefits and drawbacks especially for expats so don’t open up an account at the first bank you see.

Always do your research to see which banks are right for you and don’t hesitate to ask locals. EasyExpat.com is a good forum for getting tough questions answered.

Finding Housing Abroad

Hopefully, you already have your new housing sorted out before you arrive, but many times it won’t be that easy.

I suggest booking a hotel or hostel for about 14 days upon your arrival. This gives you enough time to explore the area and begin the housing search.

I also recommend you move three to four weeks before you start your job or classes if you don’t have housing secured. This may seem like too much time but finding a flat in a good location, at a good price level is more difficult than you think.

Conducting research on your new city or town and what areas are the best to look into is a smart way to prepare. Websites such as Idealista (Spain, Italy, Portugal) and RightMove (UK) will help you find places for rent if you’re in a certain region.

However, there’s only so much you can do before you arrive. Make sure you tour the space before sending any money! Be prepared to pay a month’s worth of rent and a security deposit upon signing a lease.

Lastly, be smart! You are in a foreign country and people may will try to take advantage of that.

New Land, New Rules

Chances are you’re not an expert of your new surroundings. Your first few weeks trying to catch the right metro line, bus route, or simply trying to remember the street your favorite bar is on will be frustrating.

That’s the fun of moving abroad! Getting a bit lost is also the only way to explore your new terrain. If you’re ever really lost don’t feel bad about asking a local for a hand. Maybe you’ll make your first new friend? Take everything in stride and enjoy it.

The exploration of the actual city may seem like a breeze once you start dealing with the government offices. So, be sure to have all your papers in order upon arrival. This includes your visa, passport, Covid vaccinations, and any other necessary documents.

Make copies of all important documents and store them in a secure place. Jump on any bureaucratic tasks and make appointments as soon as possible. Remember, you’re dealing with a new government and procedures may take longer than expected. We don’t want you getting deported!

Have Fun!

Moving to a different country is an incredible opportunity to experience a new culture and try new things. There will be difficult times when things don’t seem to make much sense, but that’s part of the reason you’re choosing to move!

Be diligent with your planning and researching, but don’t obsess so much that it ruins the experience. This is a time to grow and learn. Cheers to you and good luck with your move abroad!

John is a recent graduate from the University of Colorado where he received a B.A in History and minor in Economics. He currently lives in Spain, but originally hails from New York. In his free time he enjoys running and following his hometown NY sports teams.