I’m all about encouraging people to move abroad, as I believe in its many benefits. But, yes, there is a BUT…I want to make sure to give you, and all the other dreamers out there, the right preparation. And one way of doing it is by showing you the mistakes people make when moving abroad.
Knowing these mistakes will hopefully help you prepare for your move even better so that you can move abroad with confidence.
So without further ado, let’s start with the Top 8 mistakes you should avoid making.
Mistake #1: Not starting with you WHY
Moving abroad is a stressful and overwhelming undertaking throughout the whole journey. But before you do anything and get excited about planning your move, take a moment and start with your WHY.
Your Why? Yes, your Why!
Your Why is your northern star. It’s your true motivation for moving abroad and the reason that will keep you motivated and committed—knowing your why proves helpful, especially when you face setbacks or get demotivated by delays or other roadblocks.
To uncover your why, I recommend asking yourself ‘Why’ at least three times. So start with asking, “Why do I want to move abroad” and continue asking why at least two more times. Then write down that insight, your true motivator, your northern star, and often look at it, especially when you feel a bit low and need a burst of energy.
You can find the whole activity (and lots more) in my book, Let’s Move Abroad.
Mistake #2: Underestimating (or neglecting) the mental preparation
When people plan a move abroad, they are frantically running around organizing their paperwork, packing their belongings, and preparing their finances. Although practical preparation is crucial (more about this later), mental preparation is equally (if not more) important!
Unfortunately, many completely underestimate or even neglect the importance of mental preparation and get overwhelmed by the stresses and uncertainties of moving abroad. So much so that some even put their dreams on hold, unable to face the setbacks and roadblocks.
So do yourself a favor and ensure self-care and self-reflection are on your to-do list too.
Know your triggers, write down your fears and worries, and create an action plan that will ensure you keep a positive attitude throughout this journey.
In my book, Let’s Move Abroad, I have dedicated a whole chapter to this topic and included three activities to help you prepare your mind.
Mistake #3: Not taking enough time to do proper research
When it comes to planning a move abroad, I believe knowledge is power. Proper knowledge about a new host country, cost of living, and visa requirements will help you plan your move and, most importantly, prepare you for a life abroad.
I’ll even go as far as saying that you can significantly reduce (or even avoid)a so-called culture shock if you properly research things like culture, habits, languages, and other things about life in your new host country.
And settling in and finding a routine becomes much easier if you have researched essential aspects of your new life beforehand.
So do yourself a favor and take your time to research as many aspects of your new life abroad.
Mistake #4: Lack of communication
You are running a hundred miles an hour, ticking off your to-do’s, and answering calls and emails as fast as possible – only to find your husband or kids disengage and at a loss with the status of your move.
Why? Because they have no clue what the status is and how they can help you.
Lack of – or poor communication often leads to more stress and should be avoided as much as possible. Instead, host weekly sit-downs with your partner or other family members (even your kids will appreciate this) and discuss the move’s status and the week’s priorities. This way, everyone is informed and able to do their bit.
And when it comes to communication, also make sure this is your main focus for others, like your family and friends or companies like your bank and moving company. Keep them informed and update them about any changes as soon as possible – you’ll see it makes your life (and theirs) a lot easier.
Mistake #5: Not creating a financial safety net
Moving abroad doesn’t have to be expensive, but there are often costs involved. The costs of your move will depend on many factors, like visa and paperwork requirements and how and if you are moving your belongings overseas.
You can prepare for these costs by calculating all the costs beforehand. However, what is even more important is preparing for unforeseen costs during your first months (or years) abroad and creating a Personal Safety Net.
A safety net is very personal, but I recommend calculating the monthly living costs and multiplying it by 3, then adding the costs for a return flight home. This extra bit of savings in the bank can go a long way and, more importantly, will give you peace of mind in emergencies.
Mistake #6: Not decluttering before your move
I love a good declutter sesh, but I know it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. However, whether you like it (or not), you must thoroughly go through your belongings and get rid of as many items as you can. When reviewing objects, think about the moment you would take them out of a box. Would you be happy to see it? Will you use it? Ask yourself these questions when you go through your belongings and store, sell, donate or trash any items you don’t need.
When you are moving your belongings to your new host country, make sure to check out my other tips for moving overseas.
Mistake #7: Let things to the last minute
Make sure you are well-organized when planning and executing your moving abroad plans. Don’t wait to organize things to the very last minute; try to do something every day or weekend. There are many tasks you can tackle months in advance and other things you can do weeks in advance. But, of course, some tasks have to wait till the very last weeks, and by tackling all the other jobs beforehand, you can avoid a lot of stress and tackle the last-minute tasks with ease.
Mistake #8: Getting distracted by opinions of others
When you announce your moving abroad plans to friends and family, you will probably receive a lot of well-wishes and positive support. But, you can also receive well-meant advice and discouragements from those around you. This can be hard to deal with and blur your vision of what to do and focus on.
Listening to the opinions of others can be helpful, but it can also become distracting and lead to self-doubt and concerns.
Stay true to yourself and your plans, and trust yourself to succeed. You got this!
That’s it, the eight common mistakes people make when moving abroad. Now you know what to avoid, you can focus on your plan and move abroad with ease.
And don’t forget, you can find all the activities mentioned in this post in my book, Let’s Move Abroad. A guide-meets-workbook that will give you the tools and confidence to successfully plan your move abroad.
What mistakes have you made when moving abroad? Let me know in the comments, and help others to avoid making the same mistakes.