What To Expect When Moving Abroad

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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.

Tax Season

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.

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So You Want to Be An Au Pair?

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As a young person looking to travel or move abroad, becoming an au pair seems like a promising gig. You get to move to another country, immerse yourself in a foreign culture, all while getting paid and hopefully doing a little bit of traveling. Becoming an au pair is a relatively easy process in terms of getting the proper paper work, so it’s not surprising that so many young people are interested in the job. Working as an au pair can be an amazing experience, I for one have loved my time working in Sweden. That being said, In my experience there are many misconceptions about the job, and also many horror stories. It’s always good to do you’re research before jumping on a plane, so I thought I would shed some light on what to look out for when making your decision to become an au pair.

Pocket Money

If you’ve begun looking up information you’re probably familiar with this term. In exchange for taking care of children and doing light house work, a host family pays you a small amount of pocket money that you can use for whatever your heart desires.

I must stress, there is a reason its called pocket money. As an au pair, a major perk you receive is room and board and because of that, you will not be making much in terms of cash income. The pocket money you receive depends on the country you live in, but it’s usually relative to the cost of living in your host country. This is a very important thing to keep in mind. Although you make less in Italy then you do In Sweden, the cost of living absolutely evens that out.

Being an au pair is not a job you take with the expectation that you will go home at the end of your stay with money in the bank. I suppose it is possible, but it is not likely, in my opinion. Your pocket money will most likely be spent on nights out, shopping or traveling.

Nobody should become an au pair for the money, you will be rich with experiences, but you will most likely go home broke, I’m just trying to keep it real.

Free Time

In most countries, au pairs are only required to work 25 hours a week, and everything else should be your free time. Although there is a lot of free time to be had, it can change last minute and it usually doesn’t come in big chunks of time. If you’re planning to travel, this can become a little tricky. Most trips will probably have to be done on weekends, which is fine for some, but not enough time for other people. Although weekend trips can seem a little hectic, it can be done. I will have travelled to 7 different countries by the time my year is up, so it’s not impossible.

Flexibility with free time is a two way street. If you work for a good host family, they are usually willing to work with you and your travel plans. Try to approach them with an open mind and give them lots of advance notice.

Agencies Vs Doing It Yourself

This a question I’ve been asked a lot by friends looking to become au pairs. It’s an even split down the middle between au pairs I know who have gone through an agency and au pairs who have found families themselves.

Au pair agencies usually require an application to became an au pair and they will do all the ground work for you. They will find you families and help you through out the whole process, some even have support for au pairs while they are living and working in their host country. In exchange for the help, many agencies require you to pay them for the services they provide. I can’t comment on how useful or helpful these types of organizations are, but it seems that the people I know are happy with their experience.

In my opinion, you don’t need to use these agencies if you want to become an au pair. You can just as easily set up a profile on sites like AuPairWorld, and begin communicating with families from there. It’s a great way to have more control over which family you end up with, and it’s basically free. Your only expense will be the application fees associated with your work permit (if you need one).

I found my host family on my own using a similar website and I’ve had no problems to speak of.

Host Families

One of the major reasons I prefer finding a host family independently, is being able to gage how compatible I am with the family. Not only should you get along with your family, you should also understand their expectations. Different families will expect different things. I know au pairs who have lots of free time on their hands and I also know other au pairs who work a lot. Ultimately it’s your experience, but legally speaking, you should not be working full time, unless you are getting compensated for it. On the flip side, being an au pair is not a 24-hour party. If you don’t think you can handle the responsibilities associated with looking after children, you may want to re-think this form of work/travel..

Hopefully this post gives you some insight into a few of the important things to know before becoming an au pair. As I’ve said so may times before, I’ve absolutely loved my time so far, and I can’t see that changing in my last 3 months.

If you have any questions about becoming an au pair, feel free to leave me a comment and I’ll try to answer them as best I can.

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