Are you thinking about moving abroad? Many people have wonderful experiences living abroad while others are absolutely miserable and want to move home as quickly as possible. In most cases, the latter would have been avoided had people taken the time to find out about their destinations and themselves.
Here are five things that you should consider when you are deciding whether to move abroad:
1) Are you adaptable?
This is the single most important factor in determining whether people have good experiences living abroad. Depending on where you move, you may struggle with things that are routine back home. In addition to a language barrier, you may also find yourself dealing with things like poor customer service – everywhere, a lack of what many in first world countries consider ‘common sense’, frequent power outages, delayed deliveries from back home, etc. Make sure that you are ready to deal with whatever difficulties you can expect in the place that you plan to move. It doesn’t mean that you’ll never get frustrated, but it does mean that those frustrations will not ruin an otherwise good experience.
Obviously, the internet has made this one a lot easier, but internet access isn’t readily available everywhere. In some Third World countries and island paradises, you may have more difficulty accessing it than you think. Even if you can get online, the service may be spotty. If you are trying to run a business or frequently have to deal with other situations back home, make sure that you can do so in the place to which you are planning to move.
3) How easily can you get home?
Even the most hardened traveler occasionally wants to get home to visit relatives or enjoy some of the conveniences to which they had become accustomed. If you think getting home only once every year or two will be enough for you, this may not be an issue. If you want to go back more frequently, though, be sure that it is both convenient and cost effective to do so.
4) Money matters
Add a minimum of 25% to the advertised cost of living in foreign countries. Everybody lives differently, and prices given in travel publications are often lower than the reality. Unless you have a job with a well-established company lined up or a steady income from other sources, make sure that you have a bare minimum of four months of expenses stashed away at the advertised cost of living + 25%. Also, be sure to find out in advance how difficult it is to access money from foreign accounts and to move money between in-country and foreign accounts. Don’t get stuck because you are unaware of the regulations that are in place.
5) Healthcare and insurance
Some countries outside of the First World have excellent healthcare. In most cases, though, this is at private hospitals, which, while cheaper than private healthcare in the United States or Britain, can still be very expensive if you aren’t prepared for it. Even those young and in good health could run into emergencies, such as appendicitis, and find themselves stuck with low quality public options or private ones that they can’t afford. Be sure to find out about medical care in your planned destination and, if necessary, get an insurance plan that covers you while you’re abroad.
Living abroad can be a fantastic experience, and it is for many people. It is not, however, a decision to be taken lightly. If you are considering moving abroad, take the time to reach out to expats who are already living in the place to which you are considering moving and find out as much as you can about life there. Be sure to ask what surprised them the most. Be honest with yourself about who you are and how well prepared you are to deal with the challenges of living in a new country. Most importantly, though, make a decision rather than continuing to wonder ‘what if?’