How to Move Abroad and Become an Expat

Posted How-to / June 24, 2021
Gemma Collins

Gemma is an NJ local that has explored all the US states, making her the perfect person to write about moving.

If you’ve been looking into how to move abroad and start a new life somewhere not so familiar, we’re here to say that it’s a great decision. No, really, we like the idea. However, there are so many things to check and consider before taking that leap of faith, and we’ve provided you with a list of steps to take while thinking about your adventure of moving abroad.

First of All, What Are Your Reasons for Moving Overseas?

Don’t get us wrong, any reason you might have for going overseas still counts as a perfectly good intention, but is it worth relocating across the world on a whim? Understandably, the situation over the last year and a half has woken up a lot of people to the fact they’ve never crossed the national borders before, but reading a Coronavirus guide for expats before relocating might be a good idea to get the lay of the land.

You might start off wondering about this process with the simplest question of them all: How do you move to another country? You first have to start by researching areas of the world that seem interesting to you and whether they have everything you need. International relocation is a big, bold move, and you need to be confident that the place you choose is the one for you. Imagine getting stuck somewhere across the globe and hating it. That would kill your confidence and your wallet at the same time.

To ensure you’ll be safe and sound in a different state, you can also check the database of STEP (Smart Traveler Enrollment Program) to enroll in a trip to the nearest embassy or consulate at the destination. STEP ensures that you have a place to contact in emergency cases, and you can leave contact information of your friends and family for those reasons, too. They also keep people informed about travel safety at your destination.

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Becoming an Expat for Love Is Usually Well Accepted

Relocating overseas for love is probably the most common reason people relocate overseas, next to work opportunities. This is also one of the better ways to start a new life internationally, and what’s better than starting it in the arms of someone you love? Visitor visas for romantic partners can get complicated sometimes, but they’re mostly easy to get. Some people take advantage of that by arranging marriages overseas. It’s up to you what sort of approach you’d take.

Back up Your International Escape With Research on How to Move Abroad

Suppose you’ve finally decided on the part of the world you want to travel to. In that case, it’s time to look further into the quality of life there and whether it’s worth relocating overseas with family or perhaps even retiring internationally. Researching how to move abroad as an American should start from the basics, such as the visa requirements, the cost of living and if it fits into your budget. If you have a family, you need to check the quality of schools, too.

After checking the requirements and possibilities for living at your new home, you can start researching other parts of life there, like the best cities to live in Europe, and if you have any specific criteria, such as finding the best vegan cities and most importantly, the friendliest countries in the world.

What Is the Easiest Country to Move To?

According to research, outside of Europe, the easiest place to move to is Vietnam. It’s gotten a surge of expats over the last few years. Moreover, digital nomads are settling there in rising numbers, so you can be sure that the Wi-Fi coverage is more than great. If you’re looking at Europe a bit more, then look no further than Spain. Many people have relocated there for the year-round sunshine and a nomadic lifestyle, and it offers self-employment visas, which means you can easily register as a business owner and freelancer.

Other great places where you could have your international home are Ghana, Argentina, Uruguay, Germany, Thailand, and South Korea, but these are recommendations from people that lead different lifestyles. In case you’re not a nomadic person, nor traveling for job opportunities, you can settle wherever you please (as long as you do lots of research on how.)

Relocating Overseas Also Depends on How Willing You Are to Learn a Foreign Language

It’s more than well-known that English is the universal language globally, but the harsh truth is that you can’t expect everyone you meet in another country to know English. As Americans, most of us are used to others knowing our native language, but are you willing to learn someone else’s? This is extremely important to consider when relocating overseas.

If you feel like learning a new language, then your opportunities for living overseas increase significantly. But if you think you won’t be able to achieve it, then research countries where English is spoken fluently. Breaking the language barrier becomes easier when you take a bit of time to learn at least the basic phrases for everyday communication, which improves your chances of finding friends, meeting new people, and having more job opportunities. To discover how to overcome challenges with foreign languages, take a look at the video below.

You’re Probably Wondering: How Can I Move Abroad With No Money?

How to move abroad with no money must have crossed your mind at least once while considering relocation. So many people get sick and tired of their old lifestyles and just want to start anew somewhere unknown. While Hollywood flicks may charm you into thinking that going away on a whim, penniless and jobless is the best idea ever, we’d say – they’re just movies.

Before leaving, make sure you have some savings and at least a minimal budget for your travel. You can continue to wonder, “How can I move to another country without a job, but we’re here to tell you that it’s possible to get settled without too many complications. With all the digital employment opportunities and the rise of freelance jobs, it’s easier than ever to have some sort of security while planning an international trip and a new life.

Stay Open-Minded About Different Kinds of Employment

We’ve mentioned freelancing and being a digital nomad, but there are more options on how to move abroad and get a job. Look into the numerous employment programs available for Americans who want to live in different parts of the globe. There are also volunteering opportunities that provide accommodation and some form of pocket money until you get settled. Working in Europe as an American isn’t impossible as long as you’re open to various ways of earning money.

Your Best Bet Is to Start Looking for Work Before Going Away

After all, relocating internationally for work implies that you’ve taken care of your job situation and you’re going overseas for a valid reason. It’s somewhat tricky to relocate for employment if you haven’t even looked at job opportunities there, but it’s not impossible. Our recommendation would be to ensure you’ve got a job in Europe before heading out to live there because that’ll mean fewer headaches and more chances to gather the necessary documents and stuff for relocation.

Becoming an Expat Requires Gathering All of the Necessary Documents

Before you even start looking for places to move to, ensure your documents are all valid. This means having a passport that’ll be valid at least three to six months after the date of return, depending on the country’s policy. If you’d prefer to relocate for good, there are ways to renew your passport at the consulate or the US embassy.

If you’re relocating with children, ensure they have passports, too. You’ll have to bring everyone’s birth certificates for the trip, as you’re planning to make a living in a different nation and your personal legal records are the best gateway to having those opportunities open up. In addition to this, you’ll need a marriage certificate (if you’re married) and a driver’s license if you’re considering commuting by car around the new town.

Double and Triple Check the Destination Country’s Visa Requirements

Every place you intend to settle in has specific requirements, and for each kind of visitation, there’s a different visa that covers it. The most common are travel visas, valid for about six months in most European countries. Residential visas depend on the reasons for staying and state laws. Make sure you’ve done your due diligence when it comes to the correct type of visa for your stay.

Getting a visa can get quite expensive in some places, especially if you have to apply multiple times. Ensure there’s no paperwork missing from the necessary documents that need submitting and that all of them are filled out truthfully and in good handwriting. The types of visas you can submit for in most countries are:

  • Transit – these visas allow travelers to transfer through the destination’s airports, either once or multiple times,
  • Visitor – this is the same as applying for tourist visas. Most places allow travel up to six months and pose a strict ban on finding employment during this time,
  • Work – visas that allow skilled foreign workers to settle at the desired destination,
  • Business – similar to work visas, but more focused on entrepreneurs and individuals looking to open their own business there,
  • Study – permits students from other parts of the globe to get higher education at the destination,
  • Family – intended for people visiting family members at the destination, as well as spouses that were born there,
  • Settlement – many places around the globe don’t offer settlement or residence visas lightly. Depending on the laws of each destination, settlement visas are given after at least five years of living there.

Creating a Checklist for Relocating Overseas

Another kind of checklist for moving overseas that you want to have is, of course, a packing checklist. If you’re bent on relocating all your belongings to the other home, then you should reconsider what to pack when relocating overseas. It’d be wiser to sell, donate or recycle some furniture and items rather than pack them all and worry about shipping overseas. If anything convinces you, it should be the fact that the costs of shipping are higher the more stuff you have.

A part of your checklist should also include packing supplies and materials, such as boxes, plastic wrap, and wrapping paper, for example. Securing your valuables for international moving seems like a task that shouldn’t be taken lightly. You can try doing it all by yourself, but we’d recommend getting some professional help to reduce relocation stress.

Getting Help from an Overseas Moving Company Would Make the Process Easier

Hiring an international moving company for relocation services provides you with more chances to prepare yourself and the family to live overseas, which is a big move all in itself. Getting help from professional movers means that everything at home that you wish to bring will get packed with lots of care and attention. Professional packing services aren’t there just to take your money, but they’re there to assist you in getting to your destination without care.

Since you’re planning to ship your stuff overseas, you can opt for relocation by air, the faster but slightly more expensive method, or relocation by sea, the slower but affordable way. Whichever option you choose, the stuff that expert movers pack for you stays safe until they reach the destination.

If you plan to ship a car overseas, that’s also possible, but not sure if it’s recommendable. While it can be more beneficial to do it with an overseas shipping company, check if your destination has any rules for using cars and what the regulations are. For example, Norway has practically banned all cars from their capital, Oslo. Using the overseas shipping privileges can have its benefits because you get to use the storage services that most companies offer free of charge for the first 30 days.

Fitting In After Relocating Overseas and Becoming an Expat Isn’t So Difficult

Moving internationally may have seemed difficult until now, but hopefully, you’ve gathered the courage to look for a place overseas to call home. Wherever you plan to live, handling culture shock after relocating can be a real challenge. However, you can seek out help within active expat communities and simply try your hardest to start over in life. Keeping in touch with friends after relocating internationally can help to some extent, but simply giving in to it and embracing the expat status will make the new destination feel like home after a while.

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