It’s over 5 years since I left the UK to try my hand at living abroad. Initially, some short stints in the US and then further afield to New Zealand.
Although I wouldn’t change anything the way it happened and definitely no regrets for picking up my life and moving not once, but twice. There are a few things I wish I’d thought on before moving abroad, just to feel more prepared for what I was letting myself in for.
Lets start of with the obvious, VISA restrictions
If you’re reading this because you’re looking to move to a specific place. No doubt you’ve done the due diligence and already looked into the application forms you need to fill out and how much it will cost. If you’re considering 6 months, a year or perhaps much more long term. Looking into options early really can’t hurt. I know I was on a work VISA for a good couple of years before I applied for my residency in NZ. If only I’d have gone for it sooner, I would have not only saved myself some cash but time too. I don’t think any country has an immigration department thats a dream to deal with, so a little less stress would have been wonderful too.
Available Work You’re Likely To Want
I’ve met a lot of different travelling types along the way. Some looking for the next destination, others who are taking a few years in one place at a time and those who are fully relocating. As a Web Developer, I knew I wanted work in my field in my next home, especially having been lucky enough to work as a developer during my time in the US.
This is the reason I picked a city instead of a town or something more remote. Having the luxury to travel and do a job I’m passionate about is a fantastic feeling. I often think people associate travelling with working in bars, retail or temporary work. But you can find a career while travelling to, you just need to mould your plans to what you want out of your time in that place and you can make it happen.
Are You Ready To Start Again?
It’s no surprise that picking up your life and relocating to a brand new country, city and culture is hard. You inevitably go through that phase of bumbling around your new city finding your favourite hangouts, friends to hang out with and local knowledge of the area. You have to put yourself out there to truely embrace your new life, this isn’t for everyone.
Being away from home, your friends and family is extremely tough while your finding your feet. Be prepared to take the plunge but if it’s not for you, theres no harm in going onto the next place and trying again, or returning home and preparing for your next adventure.
Does Your New Location Fit With Your Long Term Plans?
You may not have any, you may be still figuring out what those plans are. If so thats great, no better way to do that than meet people from all walks of life and embracing the world as you take it.
If your someone who does, perhaps you’ve studied at Uni and want to pursue a career in your shiny new degree. Or maybe you’ve got a passion you’re looking to turn into a business. Maybe it’s starting a family or owning a home. Whatever it is, don’t assume your travel plans are exclusive from your long term plans. They can work together if you want them to, find a job with your new degree. Attend some conferences relating to your passion or starting a business. Often travelling is treated as a break from real life, when it doesn’t have to be if you don’t want it to be.
We all do it, we get the urge to visit family and friends so start working towards that 2-3 week trip home. The reality is, when you live abroad all too often those trips home are you entire vacation leave for one or sometimes two years.
I got very lucky that my employer is happy for me to take unpaid leave to help me extend my trips home with some exploring new places either side. My advice would be to consider asking about this with an employer if your looking to return to the same city after a visit home. Sometimes a job can be a means to and end, you’re ready for the next adventure and getting home for a few weeks is just part of that. Thats totally fine and good on you for being able to keep moving.
If you’re move is more about relocation than a temporary stop in, bare this sacrifice of holiday leave in mind and know what your comfortable with. You should then avoid facing the tough decision of choosing between your job or sometimes where you’re renting and the long awaited trip home.
As I said earlier, none of these points are intended to scare you into taking the jump into the world and living overseas in a new place. It’s an amazing experience, meeting new people, discovering great hangouts and living like the locals do. Heck even becoming a local!
Got some tips of your own? I’d love to hear them in the comments below!