8 things to consider before moving abroad

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There’s a lot to think about when moving overseas. Will you need health insurance? What identity documents will you need to apply for? And of course, where will you live and work?

There’s a lot to think about when moving overseas. Will you need health insurance? What identity documents will you need to apply for? And of course, where will you live and work?

We’ve been there, and we get it! That’s why we’ve put together this list of 8 things to consider before moving abroad. Let’s take a look:  

1. Understand visa requirements 

If you plan to move abroad for more than six months, you might need a visa to live, work or study. So before making any travel plans, you should visit your destination country’s immigration website to ensure you’re eligible for a visa – and understand all the requirements. Many governments, for example, require applicants to write an approved English language proficiency test like PTE Academic to study or work in the country.

If you’re looking for visa support, you may also decide to hire a registered migration agent. These are immigration professionals and can complete your visa application for you, help prepare documents, and provide advice throughout the application process.

2. Find out if you’re eligible to work 

Just because you’ve been granted a visa to live in a country, doesn’t mean you have the right to work full-time.

Many student visas put a cap on how many hours people can work. For example, in Australia students are allowed to work up to 40 hours every two weeks during the school term. In the UK, students are able to work 20 hours per week during the semester. And in Malaysia, students can also work up to 20 hours a week, but only during school breaks longer than eight days.

If you’re not on a student visa, it is likely you’ll have permission to work full-time. However, many countries require you to apply for a social insurance number – or something similar – before you can.

In Canada, for example, permanent and temporary residents need to apply for a social insurance number after they land in the country, and it can take about 20 days to arrive.

3. Create a budget

Before moving to a new country, you should have some savings. In some cases, depending on your visa type and the country you’re moving to, you might be required to show proof of savings with your visa application.

Day-to-day living costs may also be more expensive abroad, and it could take you longer than anticipated to find a job – so it’s important to have money put away to help you settle in.

If you’re a student planning to move to Canada or the UK, we’ve put together some detailed guides that outline the living costs in each country: 

 Many governments offer cost of living calculators online, which can be a great resource for new immigrants. Take a look at New Zealand’s cost of living tool, for example.

When you arrive, you’ll also need to open a bank account. This can often be done online. Some banks even have accounts specifically designed for newcomers and offer credit cards to help build credit history. 

4. Search for housing 

Looking for accommodation can be one of the most exciting parts of moving abroad. Once you find a place to call home, you’re able to really imagine what your new life will be like – you get to explore Google Maps from afar, check out neighborhood restaurants online, and plan where you might socialize with friends.

If you’re moving with a work visa, your new workplace might be able to help you find temporary accommodation. Likewise, if you’re moving abroad to study, your institution should offer housing options for international students – such as on-campus apartments or other homestay partnerships. It’s also a great idea to join local housing Facebook groups, where people post their apartments or houses for temporary or long-term rentals.

5. Discover transportation options

Once you know where you’ll live, you can figure out how you’ll get around. Is your apartment close to public transportation? Or have you opted to live outside a city center, and will need to get around by car?

You could be able to drive with an international driver’s license right after landing abroad. But after a few months, lots of countries will require you to apply for a local driver’s license instead. If you’re moving to a country where it snows, it might also be a good idea to invest in driving lessons to learn how to drive safely on icy roads.

6. Apply for healthcare or insurance

You might not be automatically eligible for health coverage in your destination country, even if it offers universal healthcare to citizens.

In Canada, for example, each province administers its own publicly-funded healthcare. That means, if you’re a student, your eligibility for healthcare will depend on where you study. If you’re not eligible, your university should offer you insurance.

On the other hand, if you’re on a work visa or permanent resident visa, you may be able to apply for publicly-funded healthcare. But, there might be a waiting period before you’re able to have access – so it’s important to buy insurance to make sure you’re covered beforehand.

Always check with the local government in your destination country to see what your rights are regarding healthcare. It’s also important to research the mental health services that may be available once you arrive. If you’re a student, your university may offer counseling services on campus.  

7. Keep up to date with COVID-19 travel regulations

Travel regulations change quickly, so it’s essential to keep up to date on what you’ll need to do before – and after – arriving at your destination country.

Many countries require travelers to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test before boarding the plane. Other countries, like Australia, Canada, and the UK, today require those travelers eligible to travel to quarantine in government-mandated hotels (at their own expense). And, the EU has talked about requiring “vaccine passports” to travel.

Always consult the health authorities in the country you’re traveling to ensure you follow public health guidelines – and you’ll be allowed to enter the country. 

8. Don’t forget about the little things 

When moving abroad, we tend to focus on the big things – like housing, work, and healthcare. But there are lots of little things to think about, too! Remember to:

  • Close your utility accounts – like internet and hydro – before leaving home (and do it before the cut-off date, so you don’t get charged extra)

  • Unlock your mobile phone so you’ll be able to use a local SIM card, and get a power plug adapter for your charger if you need one.

  • Bring a few things that remind you of home and that you won’t be able to buy abroad. Something as simple as packing your favorite face wash or snack food can make a big difference when just starting to settle in.

Overall, getting a head-start on your travel preparations will help you to reduce stress and hit the ground running when you arrive.