When you are young and single, the idea of moving abroad is usually a matter of adventure. With fewer responsibilities, you can pick up quickly and transfer your life to a new country. With time, however, you very likely have more at stake in the way of career growth, community connections and family. You likely have many questions, decisions and adjustments ahead of you.
The good news is that millions of North Americans move overseas every year. Whether moving for work, adventure or love, many have tackled the very hurdles that you will face. Living and working abroad can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
So, what do you need to think about? Where do you start when you’re wondering how to move abroad?
We’ve put together a list of 9 different steps on how to move abroad:
Step #1: Do Your Country Research
If you have a choice of which country to move to, some basic research will be your first step to move abroad. Are you willing to move to a country that doesn’t have English as an official language? Do you mind hot or cold climates? Once you’ve narrowed things down at a high level, you can start to look at practical, more detailed variables such as housing and job opportunities.
Step #2: Find Your Expat Community
If you know your destination country, the next step is to find a Canadian Expats. For example, if you are moving to Paris for work, search for “Canadian Expats in France”. You will find a wealth of information, from logistics and cultural norms to inside scoop on where to find housing and buy food.
Step #3: Get Your Documents in Order
Several months before your move, double-check your critical documents. Is your passport current and good for the anticipated length of your stay? Do you have the required visas and work-permits for your trip? This is the time to check and make copies of all your important documents.
Step #4: Register Your Move
As soon as you know where you are going and how long you’ll be there, let the Canadian government know. Through a program called Registration of Canadians Abroad, the government will be able to give you important information in the case of an emergency, such as a natural disaster or civil unrest.
Step #5: Decide on Transportation
When you get to your destination city, how will you get around? Will you need a car or will you be able to walk or use public transportation? If you plan to drive, you will want to consider the benefits and risks of shipping your own car or buying or renting a new one. If you decide to drive overseas, you will likely need an international driver’s permit.
Step #6: Contact Your Service Providers
If you plan to be out of country for a period of time, you will need to advise your service providers, including your bank, insurance, phone and cable companies. Determine which services you will simply suspend and which you will need to transition to your new country. Setting up a bank account in your new city, for example, may require paperwork from your current bank. Asking questions ahead of time can help you settle into the logistics of your new life quickly.
Step #7: Double-Check on Your Credit Card
Long before your leave the country, make sure your credit card provider is aware. Then check again, right before you leave. You’ll want to make sure you’re not locked out of your credit card the minute you start charging products or services in another country. You’ll also want to ensure your card is set up without extra charges for foreign transactions.
Step #8: Find Trusted Movers
An overseas move is not a job for a small, local moving company. When it comes to a move abroad, you want to work with trusted movers who have a wealth of experience. They will help you with everything from professional packing and crating to transportation of cars and boats and arranging long-term storage, if required. Established movers will have an international service network and the experience to navigate the requirements for customs.
Step #9: Contact Your Accountant
As a Canadian working abroad, you will still have to file your personal income taxes by the end of April each year. Depending on where you earn your income, your taxes may need to be handled differently. For peace of mind, be sure to contact your accountant before your move, to figure out if there is any paperwork and / or online documents you need to know about.
A move abroad can be both exhilarating and overwhelming. As soon as you know you are planning an overseas move, start your research and make good to-do lists. Look for trusted partners, where you can find them, especially if they can take things off of your plate. We hope this list of ideas on how to move abroad gives you peace of mind and a few thoughts on where to start.