“A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes
Giving your life an overhaul, moving to a different country, and leaving your old life behind is no small feat. It takes a while to prepare, and I’m not just talking about the usual legal requirements. I’m also talking about preparing yourself financially, mentally, and emotionally. If you do decide to move abroad, it can go either way – you thrive and all the challenges would be so worth it, or you go unprepared and end up in a much difficult situation.
It’s been more than 3 years since we moved from the Philippines to New Zealand. It wasn’t an easy journey, but I would do it all over again, that’s for sure. Here are some of the important things that we did in preparation for moving. Of course, there’s a lot of stuff going on – packing, paperwork, booking flights and whatnot. Below is just a summary of the things to do and prepare for.
Do your research
With the weeks (even months) leading up to my flight, I watched YouTube travel videos about New Zealand and I found that quite helpful. Aside from the tourist-y things to do, learn about everyday life in the place you’re going to. Know how to get around the city. Know what the seasons are (and when! Seasons in the southern and northern hemispheres are opposites). Find out if you need to learn a new language. Most importantly, do your research on the cost of living so that you can prepare for it – rent, utilities, meals, transportation, wifi, clothing, etc. Which brings us to item number 2…
Prepare your budget and save up
Migrating can be super expensive. Once you know the cost of living per month, save up enough to get you there (airfare, processing of documents, etc.) plus a buffer of a few months’ worth of expenses, just in case you don’t have a means of earning income right away.
Gather documents and other requirements
It can be a lot of work to get the documents and other requirements ready – passport, visa (if needed), medical exams, police clearance, just to name a few. I used an Excel spreadsheet to list down all the things that need to get done, how much would it cost, and what the status is, just to be more organised. A Kanban board works great too! Also, it’s a good idea to keep copies of these documents so that you have it handy when needed.
Make arrangements for when you arrive
It would take a lot of the hassle out if you already made arrangements for a place to stay before you arrive. It can even be just for a week or two, if you plan on looking for a more suitable place when you get there. It’s also handy to have your foreign bank account ready as well.
Take care of things before you leave
The things that you need to take care of will be different for everyone. Maybe you’ll have to resign from your job, or inform your landlord of when you’re leaving. Perhaps you can sell a lot of your stuff and cancel your subscriptions and services. Take time to review your bank accounts and investments and decide whether you’re going to close everything or leave a few accounts open. And don’t forget to clean up before your leave!
Bonus tip: Download an offline Google map of the area that you’ll be staying at. This can come in handy when you’re just getting to know the place and if you do not have any mobile data available, or a weak signal.
Now, with all that preparation, nothing prepares you emotionally, especially during the first few months. You would have bouts of loneliness and self-pity. But that’s a whole different blog altogether! Now you just have to take the leap, be committed, and go for it!