I’ve always dreamed about moving abroad. When I was a little girl I had the usual American dream almost everyone has around here. Then, when I was in high school, I decided I wanted to live in Canada in the future. Everything seemed so much better over there. And seeing how things are going right now, I couldn’t be happier with the country I’ve chosen.
Everyone has a different reason for wanting to move away from their home country. But ultimately it’s because we want more: we want new adventures, we want better adventures.
There are so many factors to take into consideration before choosing a new host country, but don’t get overwhelmed just yet. Ask yourself some questions, take a pen and some paper and start making lists. Everything gets better and it doesn’t seem so impossible anymore when you have a clear list of steps to take in front of you.
Where to go next?
If you really have no idea where to relocate, think about your own country. Make a list of things you like and things you don’t like about it. Then, look for places that are filled with things you like. It can be anything from stunning nature or proximity to the sea to universal health care or a good public transport system.
But don’t limit yourself, sometimes the bad outweighs the good. I decided to move to Canada to study. I’m not into cold winters and snowstorms and I wanted to go live in Vancouver. But I was genuinely interested in child and youth care and I got into my first choice school, which is in Toronto. So now I’m getting really excited to move there and wouldn’t want to go anywhere else.
Can I live and legally work or study there?
If you want to spend more than a couple of months in a country, chances are you will need a visa. You need to check if you’re eligible to get one and which type you’ll need. There are a lot of different types of permits, so make your research!
If you want to study in the country you’ve chosen, you’ll probably need a study permit. Sometimes that comes with a work permit, sometimes not, sometimes you can work for just a certain amount of hours when school is in session. It all depends on the country. You should check their government website, where all this kind of info should be listed.
Can I afford to live there?
After you’ve made a list of places you think you’ll enjoy living in, and you find out you are eligible to get a visa to study or work there, you should check the cost of living. Rents, foreign exchange, salaries, taxes, the price of groceries and public transports. On The Earth Awaits you can find the perfect city for your budget.
I know that being abroad just for the sake of being abroad is not for me. I want to see new things and meet new people. Most of the times, the most popular destinations are the most expensive and they will leave you without money and time to go explore around your new host country. For example, a lot of people move to London to work in restaurants or shops, but they end up working 10+ hours shifts and making enough money just for rent and food (because those things are super expensive there and pounds are still stronger than euros).
So maybe you want to look into more unique destinations. But if London (or any other expensive major city) is your lifetime dream, go for it. If you really want something, you’ll find a way to make it work.
How is the education system?
If you want to study in your new host country, you should check if you have the right requisites to apply to schools there. You will probably have to have your transcripts and other documents translated and notarized, so be prepared to make copies and pay extra fees.
If you’re staying just for a semester or a year, be sure your college or university will accept the credits you’ve earned abroad. There’s no use in paying international tuition fees and study hard for exams if you’ll have to retake them when you go back to your school. If you want to go back to your home country right after graduation, you should also check that your diploma or degree is valid there or that you can get your qualifications recognized.
Are there job opportunities?
If you’re moving abroad to work, you want to go where your skills are needed. Or, if you also want to reinvent yourself and start a new career, you should at least pick a country where there are opportunities for foreigners and a solid job market.
Do I know the language? Can I learn it?
Do they speak your first language in your new host country? Can they speak and understand English there?
If you want to get in touch with the local community in your new host country, you might want to consider learning their language. This will be a wonderful opportunity for you. You get to learn something new, to make friends and to get the real experience.
Are you thinking about moving abroad to work or study? Have you taken into consideration all these factors?