When you are moving overseas whether it’s for employment reasons or you just want a different scenery and lifestyle, it’s ideal to make sure you have all your ducks in a row before jetting off. Throughout my career at Rainier Overseas, I’ve seen many blunders people make when moving to another country.
Relocating overseas is hard work and there are plenty of potential problems to trip you along the way. I’m going to share with you the six major blunders I’ve seen people make so you can avoid them like the plaque and have a safer and successful move to a foreign land.
Six big blunders:
1. False premise – vacationing at your destination will be the same when you live there:
Taking a vacation is a lot different than living there long-term. No matter where you live, you will always have daily frustrations and routines. In other words, unless you are Bill Gates, you will still have to go to work, access public services, and clean your toilet wherever you live in the world.
Just because you live in a picturesque town in a warm climate, you will still have to adapt to a new life and system, potentially new language and adaptations that accompany any relocation. Set realistic goals for your new life and don’t assume that all your worries will disappear and your life will become perfect.
2. Not doing your research:
Make sure you do your research before you move. Research should include looking into local laws, customs, taxes, building regulations, the health and education systems, and the public transport systems. These all will be part of your daily life and in case of things like the health system, we are talking about your health and the quality of it.
Learn about the country’s property taxes if you are buying a property, tenants and landlords rights if you will be renting, and school policies if your kids will be in the local school system. Talk to expatriates living there and about any issues they had to deal with during their first few months in the country.
3. Job over-commitment:
Just because you’ve always dreamed about teaching English in Brazil doesn’t mean you will love it in reality. Don’t sign too long of a contract for work because if things don’t work out, or and for whatever reason you can’t overcome the barriers, it will reflect badly on you with your employer if you break your contract.
Instead, ask for a few months for a gradual commitment to allow you time to adjust and really know if you will like living in the country. This will benefit both yourself and your employer.
4. Purchasing too soon:
Be willing to rent for several months before you decide to purchase a new home. This will save you a lot of headaches because you may learn that your new neighborhood is unbearable during the offseason, noisy at peak times, and your beautiful old home is right in the path of floodwaters in the rainy season or beautiful mountainsides are vulnerable to forest fires in the summer. Renting will give you the opportunity to learn where the best places to live in your relocated city or town.
5. Not learning the language:
Become part of the local community by learning the country or city’s language. Your new language skills are best learned by interacting with the natives. It’s easy to fall in the “English” trap by interacting only with those that speak English and not the local language.
Not to mention that the lack of language skills can actually be dangerous if, for example, you are not able to communicate with health care professionals or report a crime to the police. No one likes to think of such humdrum necessities when planning an exciting new life, but they are a part of everyday life and, at some point, they will need to be dealt with. Plan to start learning the new language before you plunge into your new life with lessons but lifetime of lessons can’t replicate getting out there and using the local language in everyday settings and interactions.
6. On vacation 24/7:
Spending money like there’s no tomorrow, hanging out in bars every night and sitting on the beach all day are fine for two weeks but insolvency, alcoholism, and skin cancer will do little to enhance your living abroad experience much less your pocket book and liver.
Immerse yourself in the culture and move away feeling like a visitor and become more of a member of the community. Adapt to the local customs, attend local festivals and other events, and live the same way locals do.
Avoiding these six blunders when moving overseas will lessen a lot of stress and hassle. By simply accepting the fact that things in your new country will be different, not necessarily better or worse, just different, you will be on your way to a much more fulfilling life in your new overseas home.