It is an exciting time, to move abroad. It is such a jump from moving to different cities or counties. You are making a massive step in your life, you will be starting a chapter in a completely different country. So, it requires a lot of planning because you don’t want anything going wrong, right? Watch out from end of February onwards, as I will be having a NEW series of Moving Abroad! Detailed posts about all of the below! However, if you are looking for a checklist and overview keep on reading!
If you are asking yourself, “Why should I read this article”, there are plenty out there you are correct. However, I had only 21 days to prepare all of this when I found out I had to move to Barcelona. Yes, less than a month and my goodness was it stressful. I had no clue what I was doing, this was my first trip by myself and I was clueless!
1 – What’s the Reason
This may sound like such a stupid question, but if you are going for work or to study then just skip past this question because you are sorted! For those that are thinking of having a change, then list the reasons why you want to do it. I knew as soon as I came home from Spain, I knew I wanted to move abroad because I just have a need to be abroad and knew I wanted to work abroad so I knew where to look.
List down all the reasons: this could be just spending a year travelling in one country, to do your job somewhere else or any other reason you can think of. From that, you must think about where and research the best places to live. As soon as we found out I was moving to Barcelona, my mum was on google researching every single nook and cranny. If you have a reason and write it down every day in your diary, you will feel more motivated to get through all the planning stage. For example, I have written in my diary that I want to save a certain amount of money before April, and I have been way more productive at work and doing extra hours and a lot more blogging work has come through.
2 – Finding Accommodation
I didn’t know where to start when it came to finding accommodation, I just wanted it to be over quickly because it was the most important. Plus, I asked myself “was it even possible to find something in 3 weeks”. It is a whole different kettle of fish renting in Spain than it was in England. There were two ways of going about it when you move abroad.
a) Going through an agency
b) Looking at room-renting websites like gum-tree
I decided to go through an agency, because at least I could trust that they went to visit the flat and guaranteed that the information was correct. I didn’t mind spending the booking fee. I personally think, that should be your option too especially if you haven’t visited the country before. However, once you are in the country you will get to know what websites are safe and those that don’t have a good reputation. If you are thinking of moving to Spain, I seriously recommend these two websites Spot a Home and Idealista.
3 – Legal Requirements
This one is going to be difficult to write, especially with the Brexit situation. Who knows when this blog post goes out, the effect of the legalities of moving to another country. If you are moving to Europe, at this point any UK nationals don’t need a Visa. The main things to ask yourself is …
a) Do I need a Visa?
b) Do I need to register for any national identity numbers?
c) What about social security and tax?
If you are moving to Spain, you need a NIE (identity number), social security number (mainly for work) and an empandronamiento. I don’t know what it is like for other countries, but there are plenty of places that can help you with this online!
4 – Money, Money, Money
There are again options when it comes to money when you move abroad you can either
a) Keep sticking to your current bank card
b) Open up a bank account in your new country
Option a: Is great if you only plan to be in the country for a year because this is what I did. My company was able to pay money into my UK Bank Account. I only had to consider the exchange rate when I was taking out money and the percentage of the cash withdrawal the bank would charge me but you can take that risk.
Option b: Is the best option for long term. You do normally need your passport and/or national number or social security number to open up a bank account. However, it does mean you won’t get charged for an exchange rate cash withdrawal because it is an account from that country.
5 – Languages
I won’t waffle on too much about this, because if you are a regular reader you will know that I have written about this topic a lot and I study languages every day. Learning a language even if it is a few words will help you with the simples stuff like going to the supermarket and making friends. I suggest using the following language apps!
a) Babbel (subscription based – my favourite to become fluent)
6 – Meeting People
If this is a massive worry, please do not worry. I was so shy when I went to Barcelona, the first night I went out me and my friend Rikke met so many people! We found this App called MeetUp. It notes your destination, gets you to choose your interests and hobbies and will show you local groups you can join. It can literally be anything from a running club to a language exchange. We went to our first meet up at the end of July, and we ended up meeting the best people. One turned out to be someone I was dating (not anymore) and another a friend for life and I saw them both two and a half years later last September. This is by far my favourite tip and piece of advice when you move abroad.
7 – Transport
Each country has different transport links, so it is best to research your options too. If you are going to work, 100% check the best way to make it to work! You may become anxious seeing as it is in a different country. You may be able to drive, cycle, walk or take the metro/bus. In Barcelona, we knew the best and cheapest way to travel was by metro or to walk. I lived quite close to town, so walking was easy and a good way to workout! However, the metro was fast and cheap (roughly 90p per trip …it costs £3.50 in Southampton).
I recommend before you start work or just want to try out the transport, perhaps go with someone. I went with my mum via metro to my work the day before so I knew how the system worked. That was from our hotel and was two metros and was surprisingly easy. My walk to work from my apartment was 10 seconds – was fab!
8 – Medical/Travel Insurance
If you are a student doing a study abroad program, your university may provide you with travel insurance (I was lucky enough to have this). It may be the same for a job you are going with, they may provide you with travel and medical insurance – best to check this out.
If you don’t have access to this, no need to worry there are options. You may only need travel insurance for just the flight out. Medical insurance may be something you get in the country as in most countries you will have to pay for your medical treatment. When I was in Barcelona, I was lucky enough to use my Passport and EHIC (hope this still works after Brexit) for medical appointments. My top tip: check out your government website and the countries website too for more information.
9 – Packing
I will never forget this experience. To be honest, moving out to Barcelona was fine because all I had to pack was clothes and I bought all extra stuff out there. You only take the necessities because you never know what you are going to need out there. Rather you pack what you need and buy other stuff out there, than buying unnecessary items that are a waste of money. The thing you need to think about is if you are only going for a year, chuck away stuff you don’t need before you come home.
Because I came home with 2 massive suitcases, hand luggage and a carry on bag. When the lift in your apartment block doesn’t work and you live on the 9th floor … it is an interesting hour sliding your suitcases down the stairs. Check out the following blog posts regarding the best packing techniques, because I am not the one to listen to!
10 – Culture Shock
This is something not to be wary about, because we are aware that other countries work different than our home turf. It would be silly to think otherwise, as long as you are open to changing lifestyle then it won’t be too much of a shock.
Even moving to a country as close as Spain, they live completely different to us in the UK. The city of Barcelona is very mellow and relaxed compared to the UK, and I learned to be more patient. Embrace it when you move abroad because you will have some great stories for your family and friends back home.
Has anyone got any good stories of when you moved abroad? I would love to hear them, leave them in the comments below or let me know on social media. I don’t think anything can really prepare you for moving abroad because it is such a personal thing to do and it isn’t the same story for every person. I was very surprised how much I acclimatized to living in Spain, it was like it was meant to be.
Do you ever think what you would do different if you had the same situation again? It is nearly three years on since moving abroad and I would love to think back and do it all again – what would I do differently? Do you think it is good to think back in the past or just think of the future?