Although many people all over the world want to come to the United States, there is a growing number of Americans looking to get out. Attracted by a better work-life balance found in many other countries, they are beginning to sour on the American Dream
Some have gone on vacation to a foreign country and fallen in love with the cuisine, lifestyle, and culture and dream of living there. Life as a local and as a tourist are two very different things, however.
It can be a lot of work getting ready for the move and things don't always go according to plan. Life abroad is full of challenges and the legwork put in before the move can make a huge difference. Being prepared can mitigate many of the challenges.
In this article, we will go over how you can prepare ahead of time to make your move abroad go more smoothly.
1 - Get insurance
Many expats are lured to other countries to enjoy their public health care system. Unfortunately, most don't realize that they will be excluded from joining it since they haven't paid into the system before.
It's necessary to have private insurance lined up before the move to make sure that you will be granted a visa. Many countries won't grant one unless you can prove that you aren't a burden on the public system. Others will allow you to join, but only after permanent residency is acquired.
This is how it works when moving to Australia, for instance. Australians pay a 1.5% levy on all taxable income to be able to use the public health system. Once you have also been paying into the system for a while then you will be able to enjoy it as an Australian would.
There are many countries that have similar requirements so it pays to research what the situation is for your destination. Even buying your own private insurance to tide you over needs to align with the requirements some countries have as far as coverage goes.
2 - Research the visa process
Unless you are being transferred by work, then you will be on your own when securing a visa. Many countries don't require Americans to get a tourist visa. A visa to stay long-term is a different story, however. Most tourist visas allow you to stay for 90 days and then you have to leave.
In the European Union and Schengen countries, the 90 days applies to all of the countries. At the 90 day mark, you will have to leave the EU entirely.
Every country has its own requirements for people looking to immigrate. Some are easier than others. The rule of thumb is that the richer the country the more rigorous the process and requirements are for a visa.
3 - Learn the language
Assuming that you have the right to live there and are insured, the next step is to learn the language. Assimilating into another culture is very difficult to do even when you speak the local language. Without it, assimilating is not likely to ever occur.
Get a head start by learning the basics of a language before you go. The best way to learn is through immersion, but giving yourself a head start before you get there will cut the process down immensely.
Look for language clubs sponsored by the country or consulate that you can join to get the best information needed to be able to find the right program for you. Otherwise, use an app or software to learn at your own pace on your phone or computer.
4 - Live like a local
It is natural to gravitate to other expats on arrival. Try to avoid this as it is another factor with how well assimilation can happen. Living like a local is the best way to integrate.
Look for clubs or associations for a hobby that you enjoy or would like to try. This is where there will be local people with whom you can create a bond over a common passion.
Go to where the locals go by shopping at local markets where you will see the same people every week. Supermarkets are generally anonymous affairs but a market is vibrant and far more personal. A bonus is that in addition to meeting locals, you will also get the best fruit and veggies when you are a regular customer.
Moving abroad is only as big a challenge as you allow it to be. By going in prepared you will make it an exciting and exhilarating experience that adds to your quality of life. Enjoy daydreaming about your future life in a new country, but balance it out by being practical with the planning stage so you can get the most out of the experience.