How do you move to another country? 6 steps to get you ready for moving abroad
If you’re thinking of moving abroad, read on to discover our checklist of what to consider before starting your big adventure.
8 min read
Are you considering moving abroad? There are certain steps you need to take before you move to another country. This can be a really exciting time, but also slightly daunting. One piece of advice that will make your life significantly less stressful is to start planning and saving as soon as you make the decision to move. From researching the costs of day-to-day life in another country, sorting out the paperwork, and cancelling your subscriptions at home, follow this practical guide to relocation.
Moving abroad checklist
Don’t start packing your bags just yet. Moving to another country can be incredible, but there are a lot of things to consider before you go. To help you tackle everything, we’ve compiled a moving abroad checklist—keep it handy to simplify your move!
Current home—if you own a property in your home country, decide whether to sell or rent it out.
Selling can take months, so if you’re depending on the equity in your home, factor this into your plans.
Renting can happen quickly but you’ll need to pay agent fees to find tenants and potentially deal with issues from abroad.
What to take—determine what you’re taking with you, and whether you need to put anything in storage.
Moving costs—research moving companies and how much it costs to ship your items.
Admin and finances—
Visa requirements—investigate the situation thoroughly so you know exactly when to apply for your visa, if you need one.
Budgets—now that you’ve estimated some of your costs, create a ‘moving abroad’ savings account and start saving regularly. Set a goal to help keep you on track.
Banking—research the best options for banking at your new destination, and whether you’ll need a local bank account.
Switch off—cancel utilities, internet, phones, and other contracts.
Your new home—
Healthcare—research the healthcare system and insurance costs
Accommodation—research the housing landscape. Which area is right for you and how much is the monthly rent?
Jobs & lifestyle—check out the job market, salaries, and the cost of living.
Connect—reach out to your network and the expat community to get valuable advice and connect with other people.
When you initially decide to move to another country, you probably already have a destination in mind. If not, then this is the first thing on your to-do list. Consider what kind of atmosphere you see yourself in. Are you drawn to the bustle of a metropolis like Tokyo? Or would you prefer a quieter life in the Welsh countryside? Would you rather move somewhere you have at least a few social connections and know the language, or are you comfortable starting from scratch?No matter where you decide to go, such a big change will require a period of adjustment. Give yourself plenty of time to get acclimated to your new surroundings.
The cost of living
Before you go, research the cost of living of your new home town and how this varies from your current home. It’s much easier to manage your budget and expenses when you understand what costs you’re facing. Armed with financial discipline and a savings plan, you can also cover unexpected expenses with limited stress. Here’s how the cost of living compares across Europe for a single person and for a family of four.
Culture and language
When you move to another country, everything can seem unfamiliar—customs, weather, landscape, language, values, food, social roles, communication—there’s a lot to learn. It’s not surprising that many expats experience culture shock when they first arrive. This can take many forms, from feeling totally ecstatic to feeling like an outsider. To help yourself integrate properly, make an effort to mingle with locals by joining a sports club, taking a language class, volunteering, or reaching out to the local expat community for support and advice. Try any activity that will put you face to face with other people and help you start building a new support network.
The logistics involved when you move to another country should be high on your checklist. What will you do with your belongings when you move? Do you want to store them in your old home country or ship them to the new one? You will want to consider and weigh up these costs ahead of time, as both options can be costly. If you’d prefer to leave some bigger items at home, you could reach out to family and friends to see if they’re able to store a few things for you. If you’re not too attached to your stuff, you could opt to sell or donate them.
While travelling light can make things easier, there are some items you’ll want to put on the essentials list. Wherever you are going, you’ll most certainly need to bring your ID, insurance details, and your medical records. The most commonly overlooked items include chargers and adapters, medication refills, and glasses and contact lenses with up-to-date prescriptions. There are some location-specific items to consider too, such as malaria medication if you’re moving to a country like Thailand. If you’re planning to head to Amsterdam, you might consider packing a bike and biking gear.
Bureaucracy can be a headache—especially if it’s happening in a language you don’t understand—but it’s a crucial part of moving abroad. For almost every country, you’ll need to fill out plenty of paperwork to apply for a visa and get your own tax number. Give yourself plenty of time to complete these steps, as sometimes clerical errors can occur and drag things out.
If you have the money to spare, you can often hire an immigration lawyer or a general consultant to help with these steps. These people are often highly experienced with the process and can make everything much easier for you, but they don’t tend to come cheap. If you’re considering this option, make sure you research options and pricing beforehand and set enough money aside.
Step 4—Employment or occupation
Fifty-eight percent of expats move abroad for work. However, if you’re not part of that group, applying for jobs is probably high on your list of things to do. There are a lot of ways you could enter the market and put yourself on the map. You could contact an international recruiter, request a transfer from your current company, or look for a remote role. Joining online groups for expats could also be an effective way to network and increase your chances of landing a job opportunity.
Once you get through the door and into job interviews, know the local market’s salary ranges and your elevator pitch. Negotiating a salary in a foreign country might be a tricky business—with a potential language barrier and cultural differences, there’s a lot of room for misunderstandings. Cultural context is the most important thing to remember before you enter negotiations with people of a different background—research and adopt best practices to adhere to local processes.
Remember that a fair compensation package includes more than just your salary. Consider negotiating perks like vacation days, sick leave, a personal development budget, and—if you plan on staying longterm—visa sponsorship.
Before you touch down in your new city, make sure to do a little research on the housing market. See what is available and at what price. If you’re moving to a country where English isn’t the first language, use Google Translate and check local expat groups on Facebook to find the best sites to browse.
Make sure you’re doing some research on the city itself, so you have an idea of which neighborhoods are most appealing to you. Pay attention to distance from the city center, distance to your work (if you have one), and distance from any other locations you’re planning on frequenting. Most expats recommend renting temporary accommodation first, like an AirBnB, so you can start getting to know the city right away and choose a more permanent place later.
You may want to skip renting altogether and jump into homeownership right away, but the best approach would be to settle down, experience the local life, and understand your new home before launching into such a big financial commitment.
Step 6—Financial planning
When you move to another country, you typically need to notify the local tax authority about your intention to move. If you’re staying for the long haul and have the option, you’ll want to become a non-resident in your home country to avoid paying double taxes. Learn everything you can about the tax system in the destination country—think pension plans, healthcare coverage, and the process of filing taxes.
It would be wise to open a new bank account and exchange some funds into your new currency (if applicable). Keep in mind that most European banks ask for a proof of address, such as a local utility bill or a rent agreement, as part of the application process so you may need to wait until you’ve found your new home. Opting for a mobile bank like N26 will save you lots of hassle.
Your money at N26
Moving abroad is challenging, rewarding, and frightening all at the same time. As with any life changing decision, it also calls for meticulous personal financial planning. N26 is here to help take the stress out of moving abroad and let you manage your budget in the most convenient way possible. With N26 Statistics, you can see a breakdown of your monthly spending. N26 Spaces lets you put aside savings in customized sub-accounts, so you can be sure you’re staying on track for your moving-day goal.
How much money do you need to move abroad?
This completely depends on where you’re heading, but there are a few certain costs you’ll need to research. Make sure you have enough budget for the following:
Flight to your destination, including necessary luggage costs.
Moving and storage costs for furniture and personal items.
Rent and deposit for your initial accommodation.
Cost of living budget, for up to three months if looking for a job.
Safety net budget for any unexpected costs.
How much does a moving company cost?
The cost of a moving company will depend on a great number of factors, including the volume or weight of the goods, the distance, the type of transport used, the required moving service, the relocation route, and even the time of year the move takes place. Yet, generally, you should budget between €1000 and €3000 for an international move.
How much does it cost to store furniture with a moving company?
Furniture storage costs in Europe start from €24 per month and can go up to €140 per month or more depending on the size of the storage unit you require and the location. The cost is typically calculated per square metre, and bigger units typically offer better rates per square metre.
Can you move to another country without a job?
Yes, this is possible as long as you have enough funds to cover the initial moving costs and living costs during your hunt. It’s best to have enough budget to cover up to 3 months of living costs, in case it takes longer than expected to find the role you’re after. And don’t forget, unless you plan to live with family or friends, you’ll need funds to cover your new accommodation (and deposit!).
What is the easiest country to move to?
This often depends on where you’re starting from. If you’re planning to move within Europe, this should be relatively straightforward, as long as you’re also European. You won’t require a visa to move or work, and you’ll typically have freedom of movement. Moving further afield can be more complex, as not only will you most likely require documentation (which can take a long time) but costs for moving will be higher due to the longer distance for your flight and moving your belongings.