You’re moving abroad. Hell yeah! It’s quite a feat to make it through the entire process without a couple of minor freak outs / cry sessions / pulling your hair out. Packing up your life and moving somewhere completely can be overwhelming and difficult—but is 110% worth the effort. Just keep focusing on that first cup of coffee from that adorable street side cafe to get you through the rough patches.
To help make your transition to expat life abroad a little smoother, here are my best tips on what NOT to forget when preparing to find jobs abroad (and uproot your life to move there!).
5 little extra’s to do before moving abroad
1. Collect loved ones’ addresses & store them digitally.
I’m a self-proclaimed spreadsheet nut—and Google Sheets rarely lets me down—but, my advice to you is to find a digital storage strategy that works for you and then make a point of collecting the contact info of your friends and family (and maybe those other folks who’ve helped you along the way) before you go. Doing this will improve the likelihood that you actually follow through with that goal of sending snail mail back home every now and then.
You’ll thank yourself when you find that perfect postcard for Becky and can plop it in the mail as a true surprise—not after sending a “Hey girl, can I get yo’ address… for no certain reason…” message on WhatsApp or Facebook.
2. Set aside “welcome home” funds.
I know you’ve been really focused on building your savings account for your life abroad, but one unexpected expense that you should plan for is all the money you’re going to want to spend your first days coming back! Happy hour catch ups, daily trips to Chipotle, a last-minute-weekend-trip with your friends to the mountains… these expenses can add up quick (especially when they’re not planned for). We recommend setting aside $200-$500 in a new savings account—whatever you can swing—as your “Back Home From Abroad” fund. Then you won’t have any financial stresses as you get to know your hometown again!
3. Figure out your getting-money-from-abroad-into-your-US-bank-account-plan.
If you’re moving abroad for the long haul, you are probably going to want to open up a bank account in your new home. This can make getting paid a lot easier, and having a debit card for the country you’re now working in can save you hefty fees in the long run (not to mention make making purchases a whole lot easier). If you do end up having a second international bank account, be cognizant of how you move those funds from abroad into your US bank account. Transferring funds can also add up quick (as international wire transfers generally costs $15+ per transaction), so we recommend making a few lump transfers rather than doing them regularly.
4. Make a strategy for easy-access to your passwords.
There’s nothing more frustrating than trying to login to your email account, your bank account, or your favorite social media accounts from a new international IP address than to be dinged with two-step verification or a requirement to login again. D’oh! Write down your passwords somewhere safe and secure, and detach your US phone number from login steps (since you will likely have a new SIM card and phone number once you move abroad). It may seem like a pain to put together right now, but trust us—it’ll (seriously) smooth out some potentially VERY annoying experiences abroad.
5. Take a deep breath & set some intentions.
The purpose of your travels is more than just an adventure. It’s more than a new byline on your resume. It’s more than an experiment in hedonism.
Going abroad is our way of giving the world a chance. It’s saying that we don’t want to continue pursuing our Americentric lives—we seek to understand, to learn, to come home with new insights about the world at large. Without taking the time to reflect and set intentions as to what you hope to learn as an expat abroad, you risk returning with nothing more than a hangover and some new photos. Decide to go deeper in your travels, be an ambassador for the US abroad (hey, we’re not all that bad, are we…?), make connections with locals, commit to learning more about yourself, and be humble and patient in your learning.
Prepare your heart—you’ll be having a life changing experience abroad in no time.
You’re now ready to move abroad!
You’ve got a plan to store your stuff (#ThanksMom&Dad), you’ve wrapped up your job/schooling/internship, and you’ve purchased that international plane ticket. As you continue preparing to work abroad, keep these tips in mind to really make your transition a productive, smooth, and dare-we-say fun? one. Just remember to complete these five things you forgot to prepare before moving abroad!