Emigration! You imagine the scene. You’ve moved abroad and you’re living the high life. Plenty of sun, time to enjoy the scenery, friends, and places to visit.
Of course, there are the everyday things that need doing, just like ‘back home’. There are small jobs to do around the house, the car needs its service and test, maybe there are schools to be found for children, and so on. Well, no one said it would be easy living abroad – even if we did allow ourselves to dream a little.
The thing is, many people who take the exciting step don’t do their homework before leaving. For some, it’s a move to Fantasy Island. Jobs will be plentiful, weather always sunny, more free-time than can be filled, and everything so cheap that money will never be a problem, the list goes on; a list that is a recipe for disaster.
However, with just a little foresight and planning the reality can be even better than the dream. Here’s a quick checklist to get you started:
• Talk to those who have been there and done (or are doing) it.
With the internet there really is NO excuse for not finding out from the horse’s mouth. Get onto expat forums and read what people are saying.
Make a list of things you need to know. Ask questions yourself.
Be specific. Don’t just ask if there is work – ask ‘Are there jobs for electricians with 5 years experience?’ or ‘I have a degree in paperhanging, will this be recognised there?’ And so on…
A word of warning: Don’t take everything you read as gospel. Some people develop a chip on their shoulder when their own plans don’t quite come to fruition, so everything with a pinch of salt, and double check, ok?
• Get Organised.
Everything you can think of needs to be on a list. The lists need to be timed, specific, and achievable. For example:
• Arrange to view apartments in district A with owners. Viewing dates between 10 am and 2pm 16th April.
• Confirm costs, insurance details, packing fees, with ABC123 Removals Ltd. Compare DEF345 Removals Ltd by Friday 9th March.
• Be Realistic.
Dream by all means but be realistic. Know that there will be problems ‘there’ just like ‘here’. Bills will need to be paid, the plumber won’t be on time, the kids will have playground fights….. it’s life – in another part of the world. Remember; wherever you go, there you are!
• Learn the language
If there is one thing certain to make your life a misery it is living in a country where you can’t understand anything. Start language lessons before you go, if possible.
Having the language means freedom, friends, and opportunities in the social and work arenas that NEVER appear for those who haven’t made the effort to learn.
Whatever you do, keep something away for a rainy day. If the work you do abroad (or your pension) is not enough to save on then consider finding another source of income.
Perhaps you could clean for a few hours per week, teach English, or do odd job for other expats? Many expats fall back on the internet and build their own online business.
Whatever you do or wherever you go, just remember to plan. It doesn’t take long and it really can make the difference between a wonderful new life abroad and a one way ticket back ‘home’ – wherever that may be!