You’ve booked your ticket, packed your bags, maybe sold off half of your belongings, all in preparation for the big move over seas. You’re probably currently dreaming about the places you’ll visit, the new faces you’ll see, and all the locals you’ll make friends with, after you conquer the language of this exciting new country. On the flip side, you might be starting to have an internal freak out, thinking about all these new experiences, hoping that you made the right decision. All of these things are normal reactions to such a big change. In the excitement of the move, you will be thinking about the big picture, but have you stopped to think about the little details that come with moving abroad? As someone who made what I call a “soft move” overseas about a year ago, I discovered a few hurdles along the way. So, I thought I would mention a few of the things that you might not think about when moving abroad.
You May Not Be Welcomed With Open Arms
Depending on what country you move to, it can be hard to integrate into local society. I know a lot of people (myself included) have this desire to befriend locals when we move to a new country, but that is sometimes easier said then done, though not impossible. A lot of your interactions with locals depends on your job. For example, if you’re teaching english or working as an au pair, it is highly likely that you will have more expat friends then local friends. Your ability to blend into society also depends on the country you’re moving to. I have several friends who are teaching in Asia for example, and they have all told me that they felt more like an outsider, looking in on this new country. In Sweden, people are generally shy, but it’s easy to make friends if you are willing to make the first move
Good Luck Saving Money
Now this applies more to my fellow twenty-somethings, who move abroad and work low paying jobs. If you’re moving to a new country on a proper work visa this shouldn’t be a problem for you. If you’re like me and you are moving to work as an au pair, or are living and working via a working holiday visa, you probably know this all too well. I had a conversation recently with someone thinking of becoming an au pair, but was concerned about the pay. I had to tell them bluntly, no one becomes an au pair or gets a working holiday visa for the money. These kinds of opportunities are available for young people as a way of experiencing the world, not bringing home the bacon. It can be stressful at times, but it all comes down to what you value more, disposable income, or traveling. If you can have both, you are my inspiration and I’m also secretly a little jealous.
You Won’t Want To Go Home Again
This is only a problem if you moved with the expectation that you would go home after a set amount of time, or if your family and friends thought this year might help you “get it out of your system”. I’m now talking about myself if you guys didn’t catch on, gosh I’m so selfish! Joking aside, moving to a new country can and probably will, change your life. I don’t believe that you can move to another place, experience a different culture, and leave feeling unchanged. Although you may be ready to leave the country you moved to, you might wish to do the whole thing again somewhere else.
Does the thought of filing taxes send shivers down your spine? Just wait until you have to do it in a foreign country. Anything to do with money and taxes is stressful enough in your own country, but I promise, you don’t know tax stress until you have to do it in a different language. If you’ve decided to move to a country that speaks a different language, your tax document (any documents really) will be in that language, so you will need to have someone help you translate it. Also, if you’re working as an au pair, you will probably have to spend a crazy amount of your time on the phone/in the waiting room of the tax offices. Chances are, no one knows what your job is or how to go about taxing you. I kid you not, I’ve cried over my taxes, literally over the pages and pages of information. It’s not the proudest moment of my life, I admit it.
I hope I’ve given you guys some food for thought in terms of unexpected realities when you choose to move abroad. I’ve personally loved every moment of my experience overseas (maybe not the moments involving filing taxes), and have a sneaking suspicion that I’ll be doing it again, in a new country.
Just some housekeeping before you leave, I’ve decided to move from my personal twitter account, to a new account I’ve made specifically for my blog. If you want to go follow me on my new twitter, you can click on the little birdie in the side bar.