They say that moving house and starting a new job are two of the most stressful things you can experience in life. I can attest to that! As exciting as it is, moving abroad does tend to increase the stress levels with everything you need to do before moving house and starting a new job!
That’s not to say you shouldn’t do it. In 2016, I ended up moving to a new country 7000km away from my home in Ireland to the UAE. Originally, I said I was going for two years…then another two….and I’m almost at the five year mark… What then? Who knows!
Table of Contents
- Reasons To Move To Another Country
- How to chose which country when moving abroad
- What do you need to do before you move abroad?
Reasons To Move To Another Country
To experience new cultures
I had travelled a little before moving to the UAE, but only to the States and a couple of places in Europe. Moving to the UAE was a huge culture shock! But a good one. Only 9% of the people living in the UAE are Emiratis, the rest are expats from all over the world. I had never been somewhere before with so many people from so many different countries and it was incredible. I now have best friends from every corner of the world and have learned so much about different cultures since moving abroad.
One thing I love about living in the UAE is how welcoming they are of different nationalities. Unfortunately, in other counties, including my own I’m sad to say, I’ve heard people being told to ‘go back to your own country’, something I’ve never heard here. Maybe it’s just me but aren’t we all living on the same planet? Why does it matter which area you travel to or live in?
Push yourself out of your comfort zone
There’s nothing quite like throwing yourself in the deep end and forcing yourself to swim rather than sink (actually I still haven’t learnt how to swim properly – must get on that!).
Moving abroad, especially on your own, pushes you out of your comfort zone for sure. Being an introvert, I would normally have kept to myself prior to moving abroad. The only thing that used to push me out of my comfort zone before the move was performing in musical theatre.
I’m not saying it’s a negative thing, being an introvert, but when moving to a new country where you don’t know anybody, you must build up a support system as your family and friends aren’t here. You don’t need to be the life and soul of every party but it’s important to put yourself out there, especially at the beginning.
I have the most fantastic small group of friends who are my support system and my ‘Dubai family’.
For a better standard of living
Some countries offer a better salary, or even tax free earnings, or a lower cost of living. Moving abroad for a few years can help you save enough money for a house deposit or help you get out of financial debt quicker than in your home country, depending on the country you move to.
For new experiences
Moving abroad and living in a different country can lead to so many new experiences you never thought were possible in your home country.
There will be food you would never have gotten to try before. Honestly, there was food I had never even heard of before I moved to the UAE!
You may get the opportunity to travel more, depending on where you move to. Dubai is a huge travel hub and I’ve gotten to travel to 20+ countries in the past five years.
Living somewhere new means meeting new people. Expats generally radiate towards each other so you will likely meet people from all walks of life. And getting to know the locals will be an experience in itself.
Moving abroad also means getting to experience the traditions of this country. For me, one of my favourite times of year is Ramadan in the UAE, where everything quietens down, you can take time out for yourself, working hours are shorter and you can celebrate Iftar with your nearest and dearest.
How to chose which country when moving abroad
How far away from home is it?
When I was first thinking of moving abroad, one of the first places I thought I’d like to move to was the Cayman Islands. They had tax free earnings (wohoo!) and lovely weather (except during hurricane season!).
However, looking at flights, I found that there were no direct flights to Dublin, and it would take 14-15 hours to get home. Too long! I needed to know I could get home quickly if it came to it. Living in Dubai, the flight time is 7-8 hours and I’ve been known to fly home for just one night!
Do you speak the language?
Do you have a second language or want to brush up on a second language? If so, you might want to choose somewhere you can learn another language. I don’t have a second language (it’s on my Bucket List!) and while I would love to learn a new language, I wasn’t comfortable at the time moving to a country by myself where I wouldn’t be able to speak the language. I have picked up a few words and phrases in Arabic in my almost 5 years of living in the UAE though… Yalla!
What are the tax implications?
At the time I was thinking of moving abroad, I was paying almost half my salary in taxes so I figured if I was going to move abroad, I was going somewhere with little or no taxes on salary. As I mentioned, the Cayman Islands was one of the first places I looked into moving to but jobs didn’t seem easy to come by there.
And so, I landed on the UAE as I could get home quickly if I needed to, I didn’t need to know a second language, I got to keep my entire salary and the weather is nice!
What do you need to do before you move abroad?
Research where you're moving to
The most important thing to do before moving abroad is to research where you’re moving to. For instance, every country has their own laws and if you’re moving there you need to be respectful of their laws and not question them. In the UAE, it’s illegal to give someone the middle finger (rightly so!). In Singapore, it’s illegal to bring chewing gum into the country. Chances are, if you’re addicted to chewing gum, Singapore is probably not for you!
If you don’t already have a job, you’ll need to bring savings with you for a few months. Research the price of rent, transport, schooling if you have children and weigh out the cost of living as against what you will be earning.
Find a job
Ok, maybe you live on the edge and are happy to ‘wing it’ for a while until you find a job. Personally, I would always make sure you have a job secured before moving abroad. Or at least have savings for a few months with you when you move.
Also, research the company you’re going to be working for to ensure they’re an established company and you’re not going to be out of a job shortly after moving. I wouldn’t recommend uprooting your current life for a start up company.
Join expat forums online
Almost every country you move to will have expat Facebook groups you can join or meet up groups. That way you can get to know some people before you make the move, arrange some meetups, coffee mornings, etc.
Finish up at home
This is the not-so-fun part. Closing all your accounts, electric, gas, phone. BUT it is so important these are done correctly. If you have any balance left over that you haven’t paid, this could affect your credit rating if/when you choose to move back home. Tip: if you want to keep your current mobile phone number as well as a mobile in the new country, buy a duel sim phone so you can have both on at the same time.
Tell your bank
If you plan to still use your credit card from your home country, let them know that you’re going to be abroad so that they can note it in their system. You don’t want to be in your first week in a new place and have your bank cut you off!
Check if healthcare is provided
You may need to factor in the cost of healthcare for you and your family. In certain countries, it’s included as part of your salary package but in others you will have to pay for this separately. Alternatively, it may be free for everyone in your new country!
If healthcare is included, it may be that dental or optical are not included, so make sure your salary allows for incidentals like these.
Plan your first visit home!
It’s important to have this to look forward to when you are moving abroad, otherwise it can be unsettling not knowing when you will see your friends and family again.
This was a must for me. Moving abroad was daunting and, while I knew it was going to be an epic adventure (and it has been!), I was also sad leaving my friends and family. So before I left, I planned my first trip home, which was only 8 weeks away. Lucky for me, I get to visit home around 3 to 4 times a year so my friends and family don’t really get a chance to miss me!
Want my advice? Of course you do! Moving abroad has brought me so many adventures and opportunities I could never have imagined so I say give it a go, even if it’s just for a short period of time. If you don’t like it, you can always just move back home.
Nothing is final until the very end.
Have you moved to another country? Or do you dream of living abroad? Let me know in the comments below!