Advice and Tips for Life Abroad
Living abroad might sound like a scary option to many, but to some, it is an exciting thought for many reasons.
You probably know your home town or city like the back of your hand, living abroad allows individuals the chance to learn foreign towns just the same. Perhaps there is somewhere you have always wanted to go, or a culture that you have been interested in for a long time. Living abroad allows you to become fully emerged in the other culture and even grants you the chance to “live like the locals.”
Before you start looking for international jobs and volunteer opportunities abroad, read our advice from experienced expatriates and international travelers who cover every aspect of going abroad. We offer a wide range of articles with advice on living and working in a foreign country.
People in all corners of the world dream about living abroad. Millions of expats each year actually make it a reality. But living abroad certainly comes with its fair share of challenges. Safety, the cost of living, job opportunities … these are but some of the things to think about before you pack your bags and move.
If you’re planning on living abroad in a new country, here’s some practical advice to consider before you go.
Research Where to Live Abroad
Some people take a vacation in a foreign land, fall in love with it, and think they want to make it their permanent home. Vacationing and touring are certainly great ways to discover a new place. But it’s important to remember that a week in a hotel or a resort may not be an accurate reflection of the country.
Living abroad offers the opportunity to live like a local – vacationing does not. So keep in mind, a vacation experience is likely to be far different than the experience of living there!
Before you move abroad, do thorough research so you know what to expect and minimize culture shock. The main things to consider are the cost of living, the level of safety, job opportunities, and the education system (if you have children).
Best Places to Live Abroad
So where are the best places to live abroad? Ask 100 people and you just might get 100 different answers. Everyone has their own opinion, based on the type of climate, environment, and culture they prefer.
If you love the outdoors and enjoy an active lifestyle, living in Costa Rica or life in Australia may be perfect for you. Prefer the arts and love visiting museums? An Italian city may be your ideal choice. Looking to learn how to speak French? Then you might want to make a move to one of the best cities in France.
Here’s the bottom line:
The “best” place is the one that excites you. It’s the one that you can imagine yourself living in. It’s the one that you can afford to live in and enjoy the type of lifestyle you desire.
Popular: Living in Spain
Safest Places to Live Abroad
Safety should be a top concern for all foreign citizens moving abroad.
You probably know where the safe places are in your home country, and likewise, which areas you should avoid. So before you move overseas, research the safety of your destination country. It’s important to understand what areas to steer clear of before you rent an apartment or accept a new job.
Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and Denmark rank as some of the safest places to live abroad. But remember, there is some level of crime everywhere you go.
Costs of Living Abroad
Do you dream about moving to the beautiful city of Paris? Would you love to move to a tropical beach in Costa Rica? Regardless of the new life you desire, it’s crucial to know how much it will cost you to live abroad.
When researching the cost of living abroad, look at specifics, such as the cost of:
- Rent or real estate
- Food and entertainment
- Healthcare, health insurance, and medical treatments
If you plan to work while you’re abroad, know what the average salary is for the type of work you intend to do. Don’t forget to factor in taxes like income tax. In most cases, a low cost of living is equated with lower wages and lower salaries.
Some of the best places with the lowest cost of living include:
Not that concerned with expenses? Some of the most expensive places to live include:
Education and Job Opportunities Abroad
If you have children, education should be a top priority. Research the international education system, know your options, and weigh those options with care.
Read up on the education system, know your options, and weigh those options with care. Find out the curriculum your child will have in a foreign school as well as how much their education may cost.
Planning to work once you move? Unless you’re moving for retirement, research jobs and understand what international job opportunities exist in your new home before you go. Not all countries offer job opportunities in all fields. Look for countries in which your professional skills are in demand.
Can You Gain Entry?
We’ve stressed how important it is to do your research before you move. One of the very first things you need to look into is the immigration policy. It’s easy to fall in love with a foreign country and set your sights on moving there. But if you’re serious about living abroad, you’ll need a passport and a visa to do so.
Depending on where you’re from and where you’re going, getting a visa may be effortless. In some cases, it may be impossible.
Before you accept a job, rent a new apartment, or ship your belongings across the world, make sure you can obtain a visa to live there and work there if need be.
To learn more about foreign visas and how to get one, check out our guide to visas for work and living abroad.
While packing a backpack, booking an airline ticket, and flying off to a foreign land may be the dream, it’s not a realistic approach to living abroad.
Do your research before you make any significant plans. Understand the cost of living, opportunities for jobs and education, and the level of safety.
And, perhaps most importantly, make sure you can qualify to gain entry into the country of your choice. If you can’t get the visa you need, you’ll need to rethink your plans and find a new place to live.
Living abroad (even if it’s only short-term) can be one of the most exciting experiences in life. Make your big move a successful one by doing your research beforehand, consulting with other expats, and heeding the advice of experts.
Following these tips will give you an idea of what it’s like to live abroad and what you can expect when you arrive.