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7 Things You Must Do Before Moving Abroad for Work

So, you're ready to pack your bags and move abroad for work? You must be excited—a big life adventure is ahead! But before you start daydreaming about your new life, remember that moving to a new country requires some serious preparation.


Now, even if you're thinking, "I've moved before, how hard can it be?" Well, remember that moving abroad is a whole different ball game. It's not just about packing your belongings and finding a new place to live. It's about immersing yourself in a new culture, navigating a foreign job market, and setting up a whole new life. (It's definitely exciting. But it can also be overwhelming if you're not prepared.)


But don't worry—we've got your back. In this blog post, we'll break down the 7 essential things you need to do before moving abroad for work. From understanding the local culture to building networking and connections in the place you'll soon call home, we'll cover it all.


So, grab a cup of coffee, get comfortable, and let's get started. Your career and life abroad await!


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7 Things To Do Before Moving Abroad For Work


Ready to get started? Here's what we'll cover:




 

#1: Research Your Destination


Research your destination thoroughly before taking the leap and moving abroad for work. This will not only help you better understand the new environment and have realistic expectations but also ensure a smoother transition into your new job and life abroad.


The better the research, the smoother the move will be. (Even though this may seem boring, trust us, it's foundational.)


Cultural Adaptation


Understanding your destination country's cultural norms, etiquette, and values is key to successfully integrating into the new environment. Take the time to learn about the local customs, greetings, and taboos.


Here's a simple example: In some cultures, it may be customary to remove your shoes before entering someone's home. Not doing so may be considered rude. Of course, cultural differences can be much more significant and profound, impacting how you dress or behave in public in your new country.


Embracing these cultural differences helps you build rapport with colleagues and make friends, fostering better relationships in your career and personal life. (Which is the key to successful integration and—more importantly—happiness in your new country.)



Job Market Insights


Exploring job opportunities, industry trends, and networking strategies in your destination country is essential for landing a job and building a successful career abroad.


So, research the job market to identify in-demand skills and industries and tailor your job search accordingly. Networking with professionals in your field can also provide valuable insights and connections that may lead to job opportunities. Attend industry events, join online professional networks, and engage with local professionals to expand career opportunities in your new home.


This will build a strong foundation for a successful career and a fulfilling life abroad.


By the way, would you like to know what are the best countries for foreigners looking for work? Check out this list of the best European countries and industries for expats and explore the 10 best European countries for expat women.



 


#2: Plan Your Finances


Moving abroad for work is super exciting! However, it can also be super expensive, especially if you're moving to a country with a high cost of living, like the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Norway, or Sweden. (Or, in fact, any other country that is more expensive than your home country.)


Proactive financial planning is key to a successful move, whether you're a seasoned expat or embarking on your first international move. So, get a solid grasp on your finances to ensure a smooth transition and peace of mind throughout your journey of moving away from your home country to settling in a new one.


Prepare a Budget


Navigating a new country's cost of living can be overwhelming, but don't worry! Implementing an effective budgeting strategy in advance can help you prepare well and manage your finances wisely along the way.


First, you need to know your average monthly cost of living. This includes everything from housing, public transportation, and groceries to all the little things in between. As a rule of thumb, try to have a safety net of about 3-6 months of your budget in savings.


Second, remember that relocation itself can be pretty expensive. Unless you've negotiated a solid relocation package, you're looking at costs like plane tickets, shipping your entire life across borders, and even paying a few rents in advance as a deposit. Consider all these costs and add them to your "Life Abroad" budget.



Tax Considerations


Understanding tax implications is vital when relocating abroad for work. Research the tax laws in both your home country and your destination to avoid any financial surprises. Some countries have tax treaties that prevent double taxation, so familiarize yourself with these agreements to optimize your tax situation.


Also, some countries offer special benefits to expats. For example, did you know the Netherlands has a 30%/20%/10% rule for foreigners? To attract skilled expat workers to their country, they offer a tax benefit that decreases tax deductions on your base salary for your first five years there.


Other countries may offer similar benefits. If possible, consult with a tax professional or expat tax advisor. They can ensure compliance with tax regulations and provide valuable insights, helping you earn more money (or pay less in taxes... but potato potahto) in your new country.




 


#3: Check Visa and Legal Compliance


Onto everyone's favorite part of moving abroad: visa requirements and legal obligations. To start your international adventure on the right foot, ensure your visa and legal compliance are in order. Here are key steps to check off before you make the big move:


Visa Application Process


Embarking on the visa application journey is complex/terrifying/hard/insert another negative word here. But remember that millions of people have successfully done it, and so will you!


Start by researching the specific visa types available for your situation. Are you eligible for a work visa, business visa, or perhaps a skilled migrant visa? Each visa type has distinct criteria and application processes. Take the time to understand which one aligns best with your circumstances. Additionally, familiarize yourself with the necessary documentation, such as proof of employment, qualifications, and financial stability.


Also, always stay on top of deadlines and meticulously adhere to all requirements stipulated by the destination country. Remember, missing a deadline or omitting crucial paperwork could delay or jeopardize your relocation plans.



Legal Consultation


Navigating immigration laws and regulations can be complex, especially if you're unfamiliar with the legal landscape of your destination country. Give yourself peace of mind by seeking legal advice or consulting immigration experts. These professionals specialize in guiding individuals through the intricacies of visa applications, ensuring compliance with legal requirements.


A consultation can clarify the steps you need to take, highlight potential red flags in your application, and offer solutions to mitigate risks. Investing in legal guidance can save you time, prevent costly mistakes, and set you up for a smooth transition abroad. (I've done it before my move to Sweden, and I can't recommend it enough!)


Remember, when it comes to visa and legal compliance, knowledge is your greatest asset.



 


#4: Research Healthcare and Insurance


If you've already bought your one-way ticket, you're probably already daydreaming about your life in a new country, picturing yourself strolling through the streets of your new city and crossing days off your calendar until your big move. These are all exciting things about living abroad, we totally get that! But to fully enjoy them, make sure to prioritize your health and well-being. Before moving, invest time in researching healthcare options and insurance coverage that can save you from potential stress and unexpected costs down the road.


Here are some essential steps to consider:


Health Check-up


Before embarking on your international journey, scheduling a comprehensive health check-up is a proactive way to ensure you're in optimal health. This check-up can help detect any underlying medical conditions and allow you to address them before they become a bigger concern in a foreign country.


Additionally, getting up-to-date vaccinations is essential to protect yourself against region-specific diseases and health risks. It's better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.



Insurance Coverage


Securing adequate health insurance is a non-negotiable step when moving abroad for work. Medical emergencies can happen when you least expect them, and having the right insurance coverage can provide peace of mind.


Ensure your health insurance policy covers emergencies and routine healthcare services in your destination country. Understanding the terms of your insurance plan and knowing how to access medical care abroad can alleviate any uncertainties about healthcare costs and services.


Btw, if you're an EU citizen moving across Europe, request your free European Health Insurance Card. It's a free card that gives you access to medically necessary, state-provided healthcare during a temporary stay in any of the 27 EU countries, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom under the same conditions and at the same cost (free in some countries) as people insured in that country.


Always have a plan in place to ensure you're prepared for any health-related situation that may arise during your international work experience.



 


#5: Explore Housing and Accommodation


Before making the big move abroad for work, you've got to familiarize yourself with housing and accommodation options available to ensure a smooth transition. Whether considering a short-term rental or a more permanent living situation, here are essential steps to explore housing and accommodation for your exciting journey ahead.


Housing Search


With the right strategy, you'll soon find the perfect place to call home.


Start by researching different neighborhoods to understand their demographics, amenities, and proximity to your workplace. Consider factors like safety, public transportation access, and nearby facilities such as supermarkets, schools, and healthcare services.


But remember that it's not all about the necessities. Think about what makes you happy. Maybe it's a gym, a yoga center, a spa, or a shopping area. Whatever it is, make sure it's close by.


Use online platforms like Airbnb, Booking.com, local property websites, or even local Facebook groups to explore various rental options. Filter your search based on your preferences, such as budget, accommodation type, and desired move-in date. Reading reviews and reaching out to former tenants can provide valuable insights into the accommodation quality and landlords' responsiveness.



Legal Aspects of Rental Agreements


Once you've found a potential place to live, review the rental agreement diligently to avoid any surprises down the road. Pay close attention to key details such as the security deposit amount, lease duration, rental price escalation clauses, and utility responsibilities. Ensure the terms align with your budget and expectations before signing the dotted line.


Understand your rights as a tenant and the landlord's obligations regarding property maintenance, repair timelines, and notice periods for visits or evictions. If you encounter any unfamiliar legal jargon or clauses in the contract, consider seeking advice from a local real estate professional or legal advisor to clarify your rights and responsibilities.


By proactively researching housing options and understanding the legal aspects of rental agreements, you can secure a comfortable and stable living arrangement abroad. This preparation will provide the much-needed peace of mind, giving you mental space to focus on things that matter—building a career and life you love in your country of choice.



 


#6: Start Learning the Local Language

Before embarking on your work abroad journey, immersing yourself in the local language is essential to build connections and succeed professionally. Language learning goes beyond just vocabulary; it opens doors to cultural understanding and smoother interactions with colleagues and locals.


Here are the two main things to explore:

Language Learning Resources


Exploring language learning apps like Duolingo, Babbel, or Rosetta Stone can kickstart your proficiency. These interactive platforms offer lessons tailored to different proficiency levels, making learning fun and engaging. Pairing these apps with language exchange programs like Tandem or HelloTalk can provide real-life practice with native speakers, boosting your conversational skills and confidence.


You can also listen to local music, watch your favorite TV shows with local dubbing or subtitles, or read simple books in your new language. Options are limitless! Find a way of learning a language that works best for you, and don't give up.


Cultural Sensitivity Training


Learning a language and adapting to another culture goes beyond learning new words. To fully integrate, you'll need to know about their history, traditions, etiquette, and so much more.


So, consider taking cultural sensitivity training. Cultural sensitivity training equips you with valuable insights into your new workplace and home's traditions, customs, and communication styles. These programs help you navigate cross-cultural differences gracefully, fostering respect and empathy in your interactions. (Put simply, they'll help you say goodbye to awkward small talk or weird interactions with colleagues, neighbors, or people on the street.)


By understanding cultural nuances, you'll more easily build trust and relationships with your international colleagues and friends and build a solid foundation for a successful career and a fulfilling life abroad.



 


#7: Build Network and Community


Creating a strong network and community is essential before moving abroad for work, especially if you're still actively looking for a job. By building connections in the professional world and integrating into the local community, you can ease the transition and improve your overall experience in a new country.


Here, I'm using the big word 'networking.' What I actually mean is quite simple (and much less sleazy) — try to meet new people and make friends in your new location


If you're an introvert like me, you may feel petrified of approaching or reaching out to a stranger. But trust me, a 3-second discomfort and sweaty palms are totally worth the potential connections and friendships that can come out of it.


To get started, try these two options:


Professional Networking


Attending industry events is a fantastic way to meet professionals in your field and learn about the local business landscape. Joining professional associations can provide you with valuable resources, networking opportunities, and a sense of belonging within your industry. Additionally, leveraging social media platforms like LinkedIn can help you expand your professional connections globally.


Remember—for a smooth move abroad, reach out, engage with others, and be proactive in building your network before starting your job in another country. Want to take your networking skills to the next level? This networking guide for job seekers can help.



Community Integration


Engaging in local community events is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture and meet new people. Volunteering opportunities not only allow you to give back to the community but also help you form meaningful relationships with locals. Participating in cultural activities can deepen your understanding of your new environment and help you feel more connected to your surroundings.


Pro tip: Connecting with fellow expats can be a game-changer in a new country. They've been in your shoes and can provide invaluable advice and support. Facebook groups are a great place to start. You can also look into local expat meetups or events. (Remember, everyone's a stranger until you say hello. So, don't be shy to reach out and make the first move.)


By actively participating in the community, you can foster a sense of belonging and create a social network abroad that will support you throughout your journey.




 


TL;DR — 7 Key Things to Do Before Moving Abroad


An image with the 7 things an expat must do before moving abroad for work.

Before buying a one-way ticket, packing your bags, and starting a new life and career abroad, ensure you're well prepared. There are seven simple things you must do before you move to another country, especially if you're moving for work and starting a new chapter in your career:


  1. Research your destination: Dive deep into the country's culture and job market to better understand your new home and prepare accordingly.

  2. Plan your finances: Create a budget, understand tax implications, and start saving to make your move abroad as smooth and stress-free as possible.

  3. Research healthcare and insurance: Research healthcare facilities, understand insurance policies, and ensure you have the necessary coverage for any unexpected medical needs.

  4. Check visa and legal compliance: Double-check the visa and legal requirements of your new country to be able to work there. Start preparing the necessary documentation and get all the paperwork in order.

  5. Explore housing and accommodation: Start scouting for accommodation early, considering factors like location, amenities, and lease terms that align with your lifestyle and budget.

  6. Start learning the local language: Familiarize yourself with the local language and customs. It will ease communication and help you adapt quickly to the new environment.

  7. Start building your network and community: Connect with professionals in your industry in the new location, attend networking events, and join online communities to expand your circle and tap into new opportunities.


You've got this!


Matilda and Ana, founders of MoreThanCareers

Matilda & Ana


Hi there! We're Matilda and Ana — the founders of MoreThanCareers, expats, international corporate recruiters, and HR professionals with 18+ years of combined HR experience. Since 2018, our career-building techniques, tools, and resources have helped over 500 coaching clients and 8,000 individuals worldwide land new, more fulfilling, higher-paying, and career-changing jobs.

Now it's your turn. And MoreThanCareers is here to help!

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