Find out about everything involved with moving overseas, so that you can move country with as little stress as possible.
Moving house in within the same country is thought to be one of the most stressful life events, along with getting married and having children. It involves lots of planning and organisation. And there are many, many steps to ensure that everything that needs to get done is completed properly and on time.
There’s only one thing that makes moving more stressful, and that is moving abroad. Suddenly there is so much more to think about and plan. And even the simplest things require more thinking.
There are visas to think about, important resources like medical care and financial institutions, logistics. The list is certainly a lot longer than moving within the UK.
If you are moving overseas and want a little help with getting an understanding of what needs doing, this guide will help you.
When you move house, you need to be realistic about the stress involved and accept that things are going to get stressful and at times, hectic.
The same goes for moving abroad. You must be realistic about the fact that this will be challenging. It requires you to be patient and very organised. The more you accept that and throw yourself into it with enthusiasm and energy, the more likely the move is to be a success.
It is impossible to get a visa in some countries without employment. And it is unwise to go into another country without even checking out job opportunities. You need to have a way to support yourself, and to know your skills are able to be utilised in your destination country.
The distance, possible language barriers and culture differences will all make it more challenging to secure a job before you move. International recruiters are useful for this purpose. Potentially even try asking your company if there are branches or headquarters in the country you want to move to, so you can simply transfer.
Otherwise, searching for jobs within your job sector and requesting a Skype interview could work really well. Don’t forget to find out the salary and compare that with the cost of living in your new area. Make sure that the money you will earn covers your living expenses. It could be worth asking your new potential employer about a work visa. Some companies will help you with that in order to have you work for them.
If you do plan to move without securing a job first then it is a good idea to have a good amount of savings to take with you first. You will want six months’ worth of wages to help you settle in and to find a job in your new home. Some countries may well want to see evidence you have the money to support yourself and your family throughout the next six months.
Children and Pets
Moving children and pets overseas can be difficult without prior planning. You will want to look into education for your child to make sure they can easily get a school near your new home. With your pets, you might need to look into vaccinations, restrictions or quarantines. In some instances, depending on your feelings on the matter, it could be kinder to rehome them in the UK.
With both children and pets, their readjustment is likely to be much easier, especially if your new home has all these new and exciting things for them to enjoy. Dogs especially remain happy just to be with you, and cats get used to new territory quickly. Your children will likely be excited to meet new kids and to enjoy all the great aspects of your new country.
With older children, it can take a little longer to adjust because friends are everything to them as teens. But they will get used to things eventually. Especially if you make the effort to support them in any difficulties they have adjusting.
Packing for Moving Overseas
When it is decided that you are moving, you will need to think about how you are going to get all your belongings from here, to there. Moving into Europe means you have easier options because a moving van can drive to most locations. International moves however, are a little more expensive and tricky.
You can ship your items on planes or on ships but you will want to try and avoid taking as much as you can. Any furniture, books, toys, technology and devices should be sold beforehand. Anything you can replace overseas you should sell or give to charity. You might even want to leave behind things like your car or motorbike. Because, you can often buy again in your new location at less than the cost of shipping.
Hold car boot sales, get onto online auction and boot sale sites, and start making savings with the selling of goods in your home. A lot of people end up moving overseas with the plane luggage allowance alone. If you think you can take essentials only, then you should, because it will save you a lot of money. Moving in a rush? Consider hiring out a self storage unit to store items you want to ship at a later date, or that you want to come back and sort through. Rushing the organisation of belongings that mean a lot to you could be a bad idea, as you might get rid of items you wish you had kept.
All the Practical Stuff
Medical care, banking, taxes, insurance and other practical needs should all be lined up before you move. For example: if you require regular medical appointments you need to ensure that your doctors or hospital is within easy distance of your new home.
If you run any business where you require the ability to deposit cash regularly, you will want a bank nearby. Understanding your needs and lining them up with the facilities near your new home are important, especially if they are essential to your day to day life.
Preparing Friends and Family
A move overseas can be upsetting for the friends and family you leave behind. Preparing them for your move is really important, especially if you have children. Grandparents in particular may find it difficult to come to terms with the fact they won’t be seeing their grandkids every week.
Consider practise Skype sessions and involving everyone in your plans for moving so they get behind you and your departure date doesn’t come as too much of a shock. Moving overseas is difficult enough without the added emotions of unprepared relatives and friends.
The Culture Change
When you move to another country there will be a totally different culture to deal with which can be quite the shock. Culture shock is no laughing matter. If you go through it, you will know why. It is important to understand the symptoms of culture shock so you can understand how to help yourself through it.
It can be described as feeling pretty disoriented very suddenly when the way of life you are surrounded by changes. You move somewhere new and everything is totally alien to you. The nature, the plants, the shops, the language, the way people are, the way people interact, the way people dress – everything that you have come to know and love at home is gone.
You can’t rely on anything to be the same. Even meal times are different, and shops are open and closed at different times. Your senses are also blasted with the unusual. Places smell different, things sound different. And you can’t seek comfort in others because you cannot communicate.
Being shocked by all this is totally normal and the reaction to it is normal. It can be delayed in some people, or come on suddenly, but the most common symptoms of culture shock are:
- Wanting to hide away and stay where things are familiar
- Feeling worried about your health
- Feeling really down, and alone
- Struggling with sleep patterns
- Battling with headaches and unspecific pains
- Struggling to keep control of your emotions
- Thinking about your culture in a way that makes it seem perfect
- Getting too enthusiastic about the new culture and how it works
- Feeling socially anxious
- Struggling to cope with small problems
- Feeling very homesick
- Feeling lost
- Getting obsessed with making things clean
- Wanting to go home and feeling like your move was a mistake
Often culture shock comes with a set of stages that include the culture shock stage. First you are excited to see all the different things and to experience everything new. You’re fresh from the plane and excited to start your new life.
This moves on to the stage where you feel a bit worried and unhappy with how things are. The shine has come away and the difficulties in living somewhere new have occurred. Following this stage, you may start to get really angry at where you are, and you may even start to hate everything about your new surroundings.
Soon enough after this stage you will move into acceptance. This is where you will start to feel better and start to feel more able to cope with your new life. This will quickly be followed by a true feeling of happiness where you finally feel like yourself again.
How quickly you go through these stages depends on your individual ability to adjust. But, it can take months for some people to get used to their new life and surroundings.
How to Avoid Major Culture Shock
To help get through culture shock and to avoid it affecting you too much, there are lots of things you can do.
It helps to avoid staying at home (in your new home) amongst the familiar all the time. Because all that does it cocoons you from your reality. Everything will still be a shock when you leave home so it helps to get out and experience it.
Do get used to your new home by putting up pictures of loved ones and making it cosy and nice. But also walk around your new neighbourhood and experience everything great it has to offer. Then you can begin to appreciate all the great aspects of your new life.
It also helps to prepare as much as you can before you move. During your moving process consider:
- Watching videos about your new home, things to do there and places to go.
- Looking up local food and drink you are excited to try, and maybe even trying some of the flavours at home for a fun ‘trial night’.
- Learning about the history of the area you are moving to.
- Getting in touch with local groups you may be interested in joining, like children’s play groups and walking groups.
- Reading up on local expressions, communications, signs and words to avoid and other useful knowledge to be aware of before your visit.
The more prepared you can be, the less of a shock things will be. There is also a lot to be said for being prepared for something new. It will be a totally new adventure and, you can’t expect to just settle as soon as you get there.
Seeking Help with Your Overseas Move
There are lots of companies that can help you with your overseas move to make things easier for you. You can get help with anything: finding a school, finding things to do, finding a home, finding a job, finding cheap self storage.
There are plenty of organisations and companies who are willing to help you. Do be aware however, that some of them will charge for the privilege. So you might have to include those costs in your budget.
Moving overseas is a challenge. But it is a worthwhile challenge if you know you want to make a new life in your chosen country. Take your time with planning, be organised, put effort into immersing yourself in the new culture and surroundings, and be kind to yourself. This is a huge change and it will take some adjustment. But it will be worth it in the end when your family enjoy a better quality of life in their new home abroad.