Moving to somewhere new, be it down your street or across an ocean is always exciting. You meet new people and ways of experiencing life and soon find yourself wrapped up in new, exciting things. With the world ever expanding, and transportation easily accessible, there has been a boom when it comes to moving abroad. I myself did so straight after university, dragging two big suitcases all the way to Japan.
When planning your move abroad, there is a myriad of things to think about, each seemingly more important than the last and twice as expensive. So lets shine a light and focus on some of the things that I feel, as an expat, are some of the more important things to consider before making the big move.
This may not seem like a huge deal, especially if the country has a high number of people who speak your language and many people get by with the bare minimum. However, being able to speak the language of the country you are intending to move to will save you a lot of hassle. ‘But I have friends who I can speak the language so it’s fine’ . Alright, well consider if you get sick? Or you have bills coming to your door. In Japan for example, the bills come to your house and you take them to the nearest convenience store to pay. This can be way more hassle than you would think, even if you can speak Japanese. Or how about a trip to the doctors? Last year I had to undergo surgery, and I couldn’t image going through it without any Japanese.
What I’m saying is, you don’t need to be fluent in (insert language here), but it’s always best that you plan to learn a little and make sure to revise some important phrases and grammar points before you make the move.
RENTING A HOUSE
Every country has their own way of doing things. For example, here in Japan you are expected to pay key money, which is essentially a ‘thank you’ to the land lord for allowing you to stay in their property. This is usually around 3 months rent. Yeah…it’s pricey. If you can have someone help you move, It may just save you a lot of hassle and money. Cultural differences extend to every part of life, and often times appear in the most unexpected of places.
Okay, this one sounds silly, but what we eat can affect us in more ways than we realise. Are their staple foods allergies of yours? Will you be able to able to remain healthy on a different diet? If you have food restrictions it’s always best to learn key words to look for in ingredients and do your research. Learn how to ask ‘Does this have (food you can’t eat) in it’ . This question in particular has saved my vegetarian soul a million times. Also a key tip is to make sure they actually understand what you mean by ‘meat’ or ‘no dairy’ etc. Here in Japan, bacon isn’t considered meat, and even after asking for no meat I often end up with bacon filled pasta. It’s always best to learn how to double check, for your own health and piece of mind.
WHAT KIND OF JOBS ARE AVAILABLE TO YOU
What kind of jobs are available to you is kind of a big deal. Maybe you’re moving within your own company, or maybe you’re coming alone. Do extensive research on not just what jobs you are eligible for, but also work culture. Job culture will vary from country to country and field to field; It’s kind of a tough one to prepare for. However, if you read up as much as you can before entering your new environment, you will save yourself a lot of embarrassment and hopefully the blow will be softened by knowledge.
HOW EASY CAN YOU TRAVEL HOME
As much as I love living in Japan, it’s far from home. Since making the move, I’ve missed many important events such as weddings and sadly, funerals. It’s hard being away from home when people need you. It’s harder being away when you need them. Distance is by no means a deal breaker, but I think it is something worth considering.
So there you have it guys, Naomi’s simple and not so thought out checklist of things to consider when moving abroad. These are all pretty obvious issues to think about, but they are often the ones most overlooked. Whether you are planning to move, or are in the process of moving, I wish you lots of luck and happiness in your new adventure!
And for those of you who are thinking about taking the plunge but are a little undecided; life is too short to spend one more day not living it to the fullest.