moving abroad challenges

Moving Abroad: 7 Challenges to Expect

Are you finally ready to make that big decision to leave everything you know behind for a new adventure? First of all, congratulations!

Making the move to live abroad is an exciting but hugely daunting task to take on. You’ll be meeting all sorts of new people, travelling to places you’ve never been, and opening yourself up to a new world of opportunities.

While all of this is incredibly exciting, it’s also important to be ready for the obstacles that come with such a massive life transition. Here are seven of the most common challenges that people have to overcome when they move to a new country.

Healthcare Access

Unfortunately, getting treatment in a foreign country can be difficult, especially if you’re not prepared for how you’re going to handle the situation when a medical issue comes up.

Make sure you learn about the public and private healthcare systems, insurance policies, and emergency services that are available to foreigners in your destination country. Think about getting international health insurance to guarantee comprehensive cover when you’re traveling, and try to make sure you speak and understand enough of the local language to get by when you’re in need of medical help.

Language Barrier

For expats, language is often one of the biggest obstacles to overcome. Even if you study the basics, there could still be quirks and cultural slang to the language that will require some getting used to.

Before moving, try taking language lessons or using apps to become as intimately familiar with the fundamentals as you can. Once you’re there, take advantage of every chance you can to practice speaking with locals. This is the best approach to get to know your new area and improve your language skills at the same time.

Cultural Adjustments

Traditions, social norms, and local customs are all very specific to their country. Getting used to these cultural differences can be interesting and exciting but extremely challenging at the same time.

You’ll need to learn to negotiate new social cues and customs, and you’re likely to find yourself experiencing some level of culture shock. Spend some time watching and learning from the locals, and don’t be shy about asking questions. Participate in festivals, practice your language skills, try the local cuisine, and do whatever else you need to in order to start feeling like you’re part of the club.

Homesickness

Even if you’re falling absolutely head over heels in love with your new country, it’s normal to experience a little homesickness. It’s normal to miss friends, family, and the comforts of the home you’ve always known.

To fight the feelings of wanting to flee, make sure you’re keeping regular contact with family and friends over text, fun video chats, and even good old hand-written letters or emails. Try to build rituals of communication to stay in touch with home, but remember to build new connections and friendships in your current space, too.

Navigating Bureaucracy

It can be incredibly stressful dealing with immigration paperwork, visa applications, and unfamiliar bureaucratic procedures, particularly when you’re already overwhelmed by the stresses of travelling abroad.

Start planning as far ahead of time as you can. Find out the precise visa requirements as well as the legal responsibilities of expats in your new country. Consider asking for help from immigration professionals or even just the expat community in your destination. They might be able to provide some direction and encouragement all along the way.

Social Integration

With all the language and cultural adjustments we’ve mentioned, it’s not hard to believe that building new social connections can be challenging and take a little time and effort.

Because of this, it’s normal to feel alone for the first few weeks or months when you arrive, making that longing-for-home feeling extra intense. However, this is going to take some work from your end.

Try to join clubs or online communities, link up with other expats, and even try connecting with the people you get along with at work. Be open to any social opportunities that present themselves to you, and you’ll find it a lot easier to find people you connect with and can start building lasting relationships with.

Financial Considerations

Finally, understand and accept that moving overseas can often have a massive impact on one’s finances, and it’s not always good.

Unless you’re specifically moving for the sake of a massive income, you’ll probably have to face challenges like adapting to changes in the cost of living and currency exchange rates.

Make sure you spend some time getting to understand the economy of your destination country, ask around about the cost of living, research property prices, and come up with a detailed-as-possible budget for both the move itself and your expected monthly expenses. Try to ensure that you’re as prepared as possible for what awaits you when you arrive.

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