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I can’t believe I’m saying this but I have been living abroad for over 2.5 years now! Moving and living abroad comes with its own set of challenges such as adjusting to a new climate, new culture, and new language.
When I first moved abroad, I had no idea what to expect. Everything felt so new and scary (and fun!). I have to say that I was completely unprepared. This post is going to explain some of the essential things that you must do once you move abroad!
1. Do your paperwork
Depending on where you move to, you’re going to have to do a lot of administrative work to make sure you’re “legal.” When I moved to Switzerland, I had to go through months of bureaucracy in order to get all the proper paperwork to live here legally.
I would definitely recommend “doing your paperwork” as the first thing you do when you land in your new country. Go to your local embassy or the immigration office. They will explain everything you need to do to get settled in! I’m glad I did this because I also learned a lot of information which helped make integration to life in Switzerland a whole lot easier!
2. Find a place to live
A lot of us move abroad without already having chosen a place to live. I moved to Switzerland and worked with an agency which helped me find some temporary housing. The apartment was small and dinky and I did not like my roommates. I knew that I would eventually need to find another place to live that would make me a lot happier.
Alternatively, many people move abroad and just live out of a hotel, hostel, or Airbnb until they find something more permanent. This is also a great option.
I would definitely recommend starting to search for your “dream home abroad” as soon as possible. The earlier you search, the quicker you will find something that “feels like home.” And the less time that you’ll have to spend living out of your suitcase!
3. Figure out your finances
Managing your finances abroad is also super important. Are you planning to open a local bank account or just transfer money from abroad?
For me, it made more sense to open local bank accounts. It took some time to open a bank account and for the first few weeks, I had to live off the cash I had brought with me. That’s why you must remember to bring ample amounts of cash!!! Enough to cover at least the first few days or even weeks (or months)!
I still have to transfer money between my accounts back home and in Switzerland. I do so with TransferWise and the transaction is super quick and the fees are quite low. Sign up for an account today and get your first transfer for free!
4. Get health insurance
Getting health insurance is important because you never know what could happen *knock on wood.* I am used to free health care and having to pay for insurance out of pocket seemed absurd. However, it’s still better to be safe than sorry!
I like having the peace of mind of knowing that in case something goes wrong, I could go see a doctor or go to the hospital without having to worry about paying thousands of dollars in medical bills! Especially since I am in a foreign country, I’d prefer to have the support of an insurance company that I can trust.
5. Keep a diary
When you move abroad, you will experience so many new, incredible things. Your life will basically feel like a fairytale all the time.
I highly recommend that you keep a journal or diary or all of the things you’re doing. You will not regret this! Especially if one day you decide to move back home, you get to treasure all of these memories for the rest of your life!
I’ve kept a diary of everything I’ve done abroad and it’s impossible to count all of the amazing things I’ve done so far. I’ve gone skydiving, hang gliding, danced in Italy, practiced yoga in UK, learned to sail, etc. So many things!
Alternatively, do consider starting a blog and sharing your experience online with your friends, family, and internet strangers. That’s also part of the reason I started this blog and I’ve connected with so many people from all around the world. And I’ve even met up with some people in real life too!
6. Find a job
Some of us are lucky enough to have already found a job before moving abroad. For the rest of us, it’s time to start looking for a job.
I found a part-time job within 5-6 months of moving abroad (I’m a student and didn’t have the proper work permit before that). I also found a full-time summer internship just a few months later.
What’s important to keep in mind that the job recruitment process differs vastly from country to country. For example, in Canada and US, it’s illegal to put your photo or mention personal details such as gender, nationality, date of birth, marital status. However, in most countries in Europe, this information is required!
Do educate yourself on the differences in the recruitment process from your home country and the local country and make all the appropriate changes! I share my experience finding a job abroad and it’s really not as hard as it sounds!
7. Go out and meet people
Finally we get to the fun part! It’s time to go out and meet people! I love meeting expats and locals at networking events or in sports clubs. Most of my closest friends are people I’ve either met during my studies or in dance or sailing class.
You can also attend local Meetups or Facebook events and meet people there. Meeting people and making new friends can be tough especially if you’re not in your natural habitat.
I’m naturally quite shy and making friends is hard for me. However, do you want to know a secret? As soon as you mention you’re not from here, everyone will come flocking to you and want to be your friend! Especially when alcohol is involved! If you don’t believe me, let’s make a bet on it!
8. Learn the local language
If you’ve moved to a country where they don’t speak English, then you’ll eventually have to learn the local language to fully integrate. Sure, staying with the expat community is fun, but you will miss out on the full cultural experience.
I’d recommend signing up for language classes or finding a language exchange partner. I’ve also signed up for very affordable one-on-one language classes online and I’ve noticed my language learning progress skyrocket!
Congratulations on moving abroad! The move might feel overwhelming but I’ve broken down some of the essential steps you must take during your first few weeks abroad! I hope you enjoy your time abroad as much as I do!
Do you live abroad and have any other tips to share?
You may also like:
- How To Move Abroad And Make Friends As An Adult
- The Complete List of Essential Things You Must Do Before You Move Abroad
- 10 Important Things I Considered Before I Moved Abroad
- 10 Surprising Things That Happened When I Moved Abroad to Switzerland
- 6 Things I Miss About Home After Living Abroad As An Expat
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