Looking forward to becoming an expat soon? Today, over 9 million US citizens are living in different parts of the world. The numbers are a mix of millennials, retirees, professionals, and families all looking for greener pastures. With the rise of social media, technology, and remote live-work communities, becoming an expatriate has become easier. Whatever your reasons are, becoming an expat offers a variety of career and business opportunities, professional network expansion, travel, and international experiences. However, moving halfway across the world is a huge jump and should not be just an overnight plan. The expatriate lifestyle has its own perks and cons, so you have to be fully prepared. Before you make a decision, Here are some things that you should consider first:

Visa Requirements

The first thing you have to know before you leave is the visa requirements that your chosen country requires. Unless you’re moving for work, you have to obtain a visa to secure your entry and stay in the foreign country you chose to settle in on your own. First, ask yourself about the purpose of your stay. Is it to seek employment, a permanent move, or for further studies? Knowing the exact reason for your trip is detrimental to determining the type of visa that you should apply for. Visa laws and regulations vary based on the country you intend to visit and the country where you came from. The immigration process can be a lengthy and complex process, so it is important for you to secure your visa first before making any long-term travel plans.

Cultural Awareness

Before moving anywhere, you have to be familiar with your host country’s culture, especially its religious and societal customs. To avoid any misunderstanding and confusion, you have to learn about the country’s culture. By doing so, you will be able to have a better social life, manage culture shock, and leave a good impression among the local community.

Healthcare

Did you know that medical treatment can be very expensive abroad? Not having health insurance that will protect you from unforeseen medical expenses is a big no-no. It may even be a requirement for your visa application. Having international health insurance offers easy access to healthcare facilities and minimizes your financial risks. Aside from the cost and its medical coverage of a healthcare plan, you have to also look out for the accessibility of these plans. According to the information found at SimpleCare, there is a digital plan option which allows members to access their secure online portfolios anytime and anywhere. When you are living or working overseas, it is important for you to be able to easily access your healthcare plan documents as well as to file and track your claims. Having this kind of feature will certainly save you from a lot of headaches.

Language

Are you moving to a country where the main language spoken is not your mother tongue? Living and working overseas without knowing the local language will definitely be a struggle for you. Before you move, make sure to at least learn the basics of the language to help you adjust and ease into your new environment. You can start by joining a language learning group or signing up for a class. You can also learn the language on your own through online videos and mobile applications like Duolingo. By learning the local language, you will be more confident, understand customs, socialize, and widen your network, increase your career opportunities, and be accepted by the local community. Learning a totally different language is a challenge so be reminded that it is okay to make mistakes. By simply making an effort to learn the language every day, gradually your language skills will continue to improve without you even realizing it.

Accommodation

One important rule for you to remember before moving overseas is to never rent an apartment unless you have already seen it in the flash. Looks can be deceiving and taking time to visit apartments once you arrive in the country is essential to save you from the frustration of settling in less than favorable conditions. Make sure to look for your accommodation options, at least 3 months before you leave. You also strictly need to deal with verified landlords only to avoid scams and sketchy offers.

Before moving overseas, you have to take into consideration several factors that will help you transition into the life of an expat. Relocating is a drastic change that requires careful planning and preparation to be able to smoothly settle in a new country.