Deciding to move to another country is a big decision that may overwhelm you. If you are considering moving to another city here are my tips for moving abroad
Having recently moved to Dubai, I find myself in unknown territory. Even though I have lived in numerous places before, this is the first time that I have decided to officially move to one. It’s the first time that I have wanted to be a resident and not just be in a country on a tourist visa.
As well as how to plan a solo trip here, there are so many more questions such as: How do you process a visa, how do you search for accommodation and what do I do about buying a car?
Deciding to move to another country is a big decision and one that definitely shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially if you’re moving there out of choice and not because of a job position. If you are considering moving to pastures new, here are my tips for moving abroad.
Tips For Moving Abroad
1. Visit The City Before
Some people take a spontaneous leap into a new city with little knowledge of what they are getting into, while others plan their path. Being impulsive may work for you, but having a more planned approach can help prepare you for what lies ahead.
Visiting the city can give you a chance to see how it really feels to be there. To see how safe you feel or if it gives you a glimpse into the quality of life that you are looking for. It also gives you the opportunity to see how things work as you test it from a local’s perspective.
How shops and supermarkets operate, what the fitness scene is like and how easy it is to get around. I visited Dubai in April last year and stayed for a month to get a feel of the city. I really loved it and knew that I wanted to make the city my home.
2. Join Facebook Groups
Since I’ve been here I’ve joined a few Facebook groups such as Expats in Dubai and Brits in Dubai. These communities really are a great source of information and they offer help in regard to everything and anything about moving (you can even find accommodation in communities).
I also joined the Meet Up platform and made connections through the Dubai Meet Up groups. I always use this platform when I stay somewhere. It’s such a lifeline for me as I can meet others who want to co-work or who want to do creative writing or go hiking on the weekends. You could also search Instagram too for any groups in your chosen city.
A lot of people seem to have moved here with their partners or husbands so it can feel a bit isolating to move here alone. Joining communities and making connections is even more important for me as I don’t have a job here that I’ve moved for or someone to live with who can help me figure things out.
If you do choose to move for a job, you may find that your company helps with the relocation, the visa and any paperwork (they may even organise your accommodation too!)
3. Check Visas
Dubai seems to be constantly changing in regard to visas. When I first arrived I only had the choice of an investment visa. Now they have bought out a freelance visa which I can apply for that is cheaper than my other option.
So make sure you get lots of advice in terms of which visa you qualify for. Do they give you access to a bank account, medical insurance and a local ID number which can help you to rent long-term and buy a car? How long does the visa last and do you also need to have a permit and or an establishment card?
Also, look into when you need to renew your visa. For example, my visa is for 2 years but I need to renew my permit annually. I would keep a spreadsheet of the separate costs to see which is the best option for you.
3. Only Bring What You Need
Luckily, I don’t have furniture from a previous home to have to move as I’ve been nomadic for several years. I do have lots of clothes though after transitioning from a backpacker to someone who wanted more than one pair of trainers and a wardrobe of nice dresses.
Having just visited the UK, my weight allowance of 30 kg allowed me to bring back more clothes with me but when I find a place to properly settle here, I will need to ship everything else. I have numerous pictures and paintings, ornaments and cushions from my travels across the world and will send these by sea mail as I’m not in any hurry to have them at the moment and can wait 3 months for them to be sent as cheaply as possible.
If you’re not flying to your destination, look at shipping companies to get your things shipped. My Baggage is a great one that I recommend and you can save £5 off your first order through this link. * Check My Baggage here
Also, the less you have, the less you have to ship so I recommend sorting through your things before you move.
You could sort through the mountain of clothes in your closet and consider simplifying your wardrobe. If you haven’t worn that skirt in the past two years it’s time to toss it. If you can’t part with your beloved Precious Moment’s figurine collection, trade-off something else. Any excess cookware, tableware, glasses and mugs can be given away or sold.
Donate what you don’t need to charity shops or put it on Gumtree or Craigs List so that you can make some money too. Not only can you save time and money by simplifying but you can make a profit as well.
Whilst you’re sorting out some permanent accommodation, you could always put your luggage in storage. I know that Barcelona has this service and Dubai also has storage lockers that you can rent on a monthly basis.
4. Choosing Accommodation
One of the most important decisions you will make is where to live or even whether to rent or buy a property. Buying a property may give you an opportunity to obtain a visa for the country if you’re choosing to live abroad.
Visit the neighbourhoods that you may want to live in to see what they are like. Having been in Dubai for a month last year I stayed in different areas to get a feel or where I might want to live.
You could ask the locals that you’ve connected with in the Facebook groups for example about what areas you should live in or where you should avoid.
As well as my visa, I’m finding that accommodation is also causing me a bit of stress so if you don’t need to see the properties before you go then consider choosing somewhere before you move. It can also reduce the anxiety of storing your belongings before you find a place.
If you are moving to a big city, you may want to survey the rental properties before you commit. On the other hand, good places to rent can be snatched up fast and it’s difficult to determine the condition of the property until you see it for yourself. As well as meeting the landlord to make sure they are trustworthy.
In Dubai, there can be some scams for people looking for accommodation so make sure that you go through recommended sites. You can do some research on the internet or through FB groups to see which ones. Bayut and Dubizzle are good ones here and I can search for monthly or yearly properties.
Make sure to check about deposits and whether bills are additional. In Dubai, it’s cheaper to rent if you have an Emirates ID so once my visa comes through I’ll be able to get a studio on a longer-term basis.
If you don’t mind living with people, you could look for a flat share. I used Idealist and Piso Compartido during my time in Barcelona and Colombia and easily found places to live. There are also several co-living places popping up everywhere. There’s VonderEurope for places community-based properties to live in Europe and London.
Just Google ‘co-living in the city that you’re going to” and you’ll get a few options. Co-living is a great concept so it’s worth looking into even whilst you’re looking for somewhere more permanent. If you are similar to me and you like your own space and some quiet then I would visit the co-living places before you move in to make sure it’s right for you.
5. Consider if You Need a Car
This also ties in with number 4. If you choose to live outside of the city then you may need a car depending on the public transportation. Is a car really necessary and will it be a benefit or will you be paying out more money than you need to if you got a car?
If you plan to live in the heart of a metropolitan city with efficient public transportation, you may want to reconsider your car. I haven’t had a car for more than 8 years and I really miss driving. Even though there is a metro and bus system in Dubai, having a car is much easier to get around.
If you don’t need one and you already have one then selling your car is a great way to make money and it will give you ample funds for your move.
Also, check that you can transfer your driving licence over from your current one. You may have to take another test in the new country depending on where you are.
Choosing to live in a different city is such a big step. I hope that my tips for moving abroad help. If it feels too overwhelming, just look at it as a temporary step. You can just stay for one or two years and see how you feel afterwards. You can always go back home if you decide you don’t want to stay.
My philosophy in life is “no regrets” and I know that I will regret not being a resident and making it work. I will always think that if I don't make the leap, I would regret it. So I'm taking it one step at a time until I’m fully settled into my new destination and my brand-new life.