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Starting a new life abroad? 5 factors to consider before moving abroad

According to the US Department of State’s Bureau of Consular Affairs, the number of Americans living abroad has increased from between three and four million in 1996 to an estimated 6.3 million in 2012. In these times of economic difficulties, an increasing number of people are moving abroad to pursue new career opportunities with the promise of a better lifestyle. But is moving overseas really a good idea? If you or your partner has been offered a job abroad, what factors should you take into consideration when deciding whether or not to make a big move overseas?


How Long Would it Take and How Much Would it Cost to Visit Your Home Country?

If the traveling time between your home country and the country in which you would be living is between one and three hours, it should be relatively easy to return to your home country for regular visits. Similarly, friends and relatives should be able to visit you fairly easily, even if they can only stay for a weekend or a few days. In addition, there may be cheap flights available or frequent flyer deals that will make regular travel easier. However, it is a good idea to look into the availability of these as they are not always available on all short-haul routes.


If the country in which you would be living is further away, find out how long it would take to fly back to your home country and the approximate average cost of a flight. Depending on how far away from home you are, you may only be able to afford to return to your home country once a year or perhaps less often.


Consider whether or not this would be a problem for you. How much would you miss loved ones back home? Would you suffer greatly from homesickness? If you are very close to your family and friends in your home country, you may find it very hard to leave them so far behind and this factor will have a large influence upon your decision to move abroad.


On the other hand, if you have few close family ties in your home country and if you feel that the benefits of living in the overseas country would be substantial, this factor should not have a significant influence on your decision to move overseas.


What is the Cost of Living?

Although the salary you have been offered may be much more than you would receive in your home country, the cost of living in the overseas country may be much higher than in your home country. If housing, food, transportation and other expenses are substantially higher, you may be worse off than if you received a lower salary in your home country.


In order to find out about more about the cost of living in an overseas country, type “cost of living comparisons” and your home country and the overseas country into an Internet search engine. You could also look on the websites of local real estate agencies to find out the average cost of renting apartments or houses in the city where you would be living.


What Could You Take With You and What Would the Removal Costs be?

If you are moving overseas, it may not be cost-effective to take all of your possessions with you. It may be easier and less expensive to sell your car, furniture and many other items rather than transporting them to the overseas country, especially if your move is not expected to be a permanent one.


Another option is to store items in your home country but this can be costly, especially if you will be away for more than a few months. If you are considering storage, find out how much it would cost and bear in mind that it might not be easy to change your mind and sell your belongings if you are a long way away in another country.


How Long Would It Take Before Your Belongings Arrive?

It is also a good idea to find out how long it would take for your possessions to arrive in the overseas country. For example, it can take up to three months for household goods to be shipped to Australia and an extra month for them to receive customs clearance and to be delivered to your door.


Therefore, you need to decide how you would manage until your belongings arrive. Would it be easy to find and rent affordable furnished accommodation? If not, would you be able to afford to buy or rent basic furniture until your own furniture arrives? If this is not a viable option, it might be easier and more cost-effective to sell your furniture in your home country and use the money to buy furniture once you are in your new home.


Look on the internet to see if there are any places where you can buy affordable furniture in your new home city. You may be surprised to find that there is an Ikea store within travelling distance.


How Much Money Would You Need to Fund Your Initial Living Expenses?

You will need to transfer some money to the overseas country to cover your living expenses until your first monthly salary is paid. You will also need to open a bank account in your new country, either before you arrive or as soon as possible after arriving. These factors should be taken into account when estimating the amount of money you will need:

  • If you are not allowed to work until your work visa or work permit is officially granted, you will need extra money to tide you over. Try to obtain an official estimate of how long it will take. Although it may be a good idea in some circumstances to arrive in the country on a tourist visa and start to find your way around before you start work, it can become quite expensive if your work visa is not granted as quickly as you anticipated. In many countries, bureaucratic hold-ups are common, so it may make more sense to stay in your home country until you have your work visa in your hand.

  • If you are initially staying in a hotel or accommodation that has limited or no cooking facilities, you will need to eat out a lot of the time. This can be expensive. Find out if there are any inexpensive options for takeout meals or restaurants such as McDonalds and KFC nearby.

  • You may need to pay a deposit and the first months’ rent to secure a rental property. Look on the Internet to gain an idea of the types of property available, the areas in which you might like to live, and the likely cost of renting your preferred type of property.

Moving abroad is an exciting yet stressful experience. It requires a lot of forethought and planning. However, if you take some time to think through and plan each of the steps, your experience of living and working abroad will ultimately be more enriching and rewarding than you ever imagined possible.

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