What you need to consider before moving abroad

What you need to consider before moving abroad

During my life, I have moved to another country five times. My international adventure started from Poland to the Netherlands, and then in the past 14 years I moved twice to Brazil and twice to Mexico. During this period I was employed three times, once I ran my own business, and twice I was a stay-home mum supporting the career of my husband.

I have seen my fair share of life abroad from many different angles, you could say. And even I have to admit that I have skipped a couple of opportunities to move abroad. I am a person who does not make decisions easily, even for small things.

Every time my husband and I had to make a decision about a move abroad, we would make endless lists of pros and cons. The more experienced travellers we became, the easier it was to make a choice.

15 important questions

Check out these five essential questions that you need to consider before moving abroad:

1. What is my primary reason to move abroad?

Is it for work, adventure, love, a better private future, study, or...?

Why do you want to move abroad? Every time I moved, it was for a different reason. Get clarity on your primary motive and secondary ones.

2. What are my core values?

I have already written a longer article on this topic. I think knowing your values is the most important thing before making any major decision in your life. Once you’ve identified your values, answer the following question:

3. Will those values be honoured once I move abroad?

We will feel happy and fulfilled once we honour the things that are important to us. Without knowing our values, we are just wandering in the dark. Will the move abroad make your life more in line with your values or just the opposite?

4. What do I want to get out of my life abroad?

Imagine that you are already living abroad, what do you want your life to be about? What is the first word that comes to mind?

When I look at all the times I moved, I see that I wanted to achieve completely different things each time. The first move was about being together, others about career, family time and learning about new cultures.

5. What lifestyle do I dream of having?

One of my clients said that the single most important question he needed to ask himself before he moved abroad was about his lifestyle. Do you want to live in a country where there is a lot of sun, beautiful nature, interesting culture or great food? Do you want to have a fast-paced career, or do you want to opt for a laid-back lifestyle?

6. In which five countries could you lead that lifestyle?

Which country(s) will offer you that? Make a list of your dream destinations and check if the country you are considering moving to meets your requirements.

7. What type of people do I click with and in which countries can I meet them easily?

Although I am Polish, I sometimes feel much closer to the Dutch culture than to the Polish one, especially when it concerns how you bring up your kids. The Dutch culture is, in my view, much more relaxed than the Polish one, yet it has more structure and rules.

8. What is my career path for the coming 1 – 3 – 5 years?

Was the move initiated by you or by your partner? If you are the one who will be working abroad, it is most likely you who has initiated the move and you already have a career path in mind.

If you are the accompanying partner, or you move for love, you need to think about how this will impact your career. Can you continue your profession abroad? Will you stay at home (maybe with kids)? Think about what you want your career to ideally look like in the coming one, three and five years.

9. What are the top 10 companies I would love to work for and in which countries are they located?

One of my clients was so “obsessed” with an American company that she decided to move to the US to be able to work for them. Some big international companies have, of course, daughter companies all over the world. Make your shortlist and check where they are located.

10. Would my direct family be impacted by my move abroad?

If you are single, you have nothing to worry about. If you are in a relationship, or have a family with kids, there are more things to consider. When I moved for the second time from the Netherlands to Brazil, it was only my boyfriend and me and we both had a project to work on.

The third time, we had a small daughter and I was on maternity leave, so for me, moving was not a problem. The fifth time, we had two kids and I was running my coaching business when my husband got an offer to move to Mexico. So not only the two of us would be affected, but also the kids. We spoke to our eldest daughter and she liked the idea.

11. Do they support the idea?

If you have older kids, it is definitely important for them to understand why you want to move. Also, if only one of the partners has got a job offer and the other then has to give up his / her job, there are more things to consider and it is very important that the partner supports the idea of the move.

12. Who else supports me in my dream to move abroad?

Do you have other people around you that support your idea, either in your country of origin or abroad? Don’t share all your dreams and plans with people who are negative and who you know will immediately criticise your ideas, especially if you know that you are easily influenced by others’ opinions.

13. What are the external obstacles to moving abroad? How do I plan to deal with them?

External obstacles can involve money, visa / work permits, diplomas, etc. Have you identified the things that stand between you and moving abroad? However difficult it may seem, make a plan to handle the obstacles. Think of people who can help you and reach out to them. Make a concrete plan, with tiny, little steps, and start with the step that is feasible.

14. What about internal obstacles?

Although many of you might think that if you deal with the external obstacles present, you are done, very often this is not the case. Internal obstacles can be much more powerful than external ones.

Think of all the negative thoughts and beliefs that have kept you from moving. If you feel that the negative chatterbox is stopping you from moving abroad, it is time to deal with it. Write down all the negative beliefs and for each of them ask yourself the two following questions: What is the worst that could happen and how could I deal with it? Also, think about all of the positive reasons why you want to move and all the difficult situations from your past life and how you have managed to turn them around.

15. What am I waiting for?

The time and circumstances will never be perfect so don’t wait for those. The most important thing is that this is something you truly want, you have discussed it with your family, you have put the right plan in place, gathered the right supporters around you and have worked on your positive mindset.

So, where to next?

Now that you have asked yourself these questions, you should have a better understanding of what you want to do and whether moving abroad really is the right thing for you, along with whether or not the country you have chosen aligns with your core values, amongst other things. Moving abroad is a big decision, but if it is your dream and you are prepared, do it!

What were your reasons for moving to Germany? Let us know in the comments!

This article originally appeared on IamExpat in the Netherlands.

Dorota Klop-Sowinska


Dorota Klop-Sowinska

Official Member of Forbes Coaches Council. I specialize in international career and expat coaching. I am the author of the book Career Jump! How to Successfully Change Your Professional Path...

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