So you’ve landed your dream job overseas or settled on a gap year abroad? You’re in for an exciting – and challenging – change. But don’t let the logistics of moving take away from the experience. Make your transition as stress-free as possible with our step-by-step guide.
Before You Move
1. Figure Out Your Finances
If you’re a U.S. citizen, moving abroad doesn’t take you off Uncle Sam’s radar. As an expat, you’ll have to file for taxes in the U.S. and your new host country. To reduce the impact of double taxation, apply for the Foreign Tax Credit and become well-versed in your new home’s laws and regulations.
You should also setup an appointment to open a bank account in your new location as soon as you arrive since it can take time to schedule. Banking systems differ from country to country, so it’s best to keep your old bank account open to send yourself money online when you’re in a pinch.
2. Renew Your Passport
Many countries have a six-month validity rule, meaning your passport shouldn’t expire within six months of your move. Passport renewal by mail is affordable, but can take up to eight weeks. If you’re in a rush, you can expedite the process for an additional fee.
3. Find a Place to Live
While some live to couch surf, securing an apartment before you go will help accelerate your settlement process.
If possible, take a trip to your future home in advance to apartment hunt in person. Realtors can be helpful, but a country- or city-specific website will be your best friend.
4. Apply for an International Driver’s Permit
To drive abroad, you’ll need an International Driver’s Permit (IDP) along with a valid driver’s license from your home country. Before getting behind the wheel, make sure to familiarize yourself with the rules of the international road.
5. Pack Smart
Create a checklist broken down into subsections (e.g. clothing, electronics, memorabilia, etc.). Lay out everything you hope to bring and decide what’s truly essential. Before you leave home, make sure your luggage fits your airline's baggage requirements.
6. Set Up Wi-Fi
If you know where you’re moving ahead of time, schedule an appointment before you move. Otherwise, contact your local provider and set up an appointment as soon as possible. Depending on the country, there’s a possibility you may be without Wi-Fi for up to a month. On the plus side, it’ll force you to get outside your new apartment.
7. Get to Know Your Surroundings
As an expat, there’s a lot to get used to. Exploring is the best way to get acclimated. Wander through the streets or local park. This is your chance to make foreign territory feel like home.
8. Purchase a New Phone Plan
Keeping in touch with friends and family back home will help fend off homesickness. Most cell phone providers offer international plans, but the roaming charges cost a pretty penny. Your best bet is to unlock your phone and purchase a SIM card in your new country.
After You’re Settled
9. Meet People
Coworkers and fellow expats are a great start, but don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone. Head where like-minded people would be and strike up a conversation.
10. Find Your New Haunts
A move abroad takes more than prep, and there’s bound to be some curveballs. Download these expat apps so you’re ready for anything.