Moving abroad is probably the most exciting thing I’ve ever done. Even with travel experiences like indoor skydiving in the Netherlands, playing with monkeys in the Dominican or the typical swimming with dolphins excursion in Cuba – full on MOVING to another country is extremely different then just traveling to one.
Having done this twice in my life (both times to Belgium) – there are some tips that you need to keep in mind…
Make sure that you’re sure.
Moving to another country is vastly different then just visiting it, however – I’d suggest at least going to the country you’re planning on moving to several times before you actually move. Stay for longer periods of time; getting to know the culture, the rules and the environment. You can even use this time to start searching for apartments, jobs, etc.
Figure out what you need to do.
Most likely, you will be able to immigrate to your new country with a simple tourist visa to begin, and then once you’re settled you can apply for a longer term visa. However, due to country restrictions and legal concerns, there are certain countries that either need NO visa – meaning you can just go live there, or aren’t actually possible to immigrate to – meaning you have to choose another place to live.
Researching online is a good idea in theory, but this is a fairly serious decision you’re making – so instead of online researching by yourself, I would suggest contacting their country Consulate in your area. (For me, I contacted the Belgian Consulate in Montreal, Canada and they gave me the information I needed as well as the papers to apply for the visa.)
Have financial security and a back up plan.
Don’t panic, but in most cases you have to actually move before you apply for the visa. You’ll have to actually take your visa application to a city hall or government office within the country you’re requesting to live (usually within a week of your arrival.)
This is (as I know all too well) absolutely terrifying, because if you’re denied for a visa, you have to pack up all your things and move back – which is not only a massive pain, but really unpredictable.
To make an international move successfully, you should have a fair amount of savings, or at least someone you know will spot you some money if you’re in a jam.
If you’re selling/renting out your home or giving up an apartment in your home country to make this move – make sure you have a back up option for living if you need to move back.
Pack realistically, not nostalgically.
They invented storage containers for a reason, and that reason is your 80 dollar prom dress you just can’t force yourself to throw away. There is no way you are shoving that puffy black dress into your suitcase and taking it with you, but there’s also no way you’re getting rid of it. STORE IT!
Have an open mind!
The first time I moved to Belgium, I came with the mindset of living here only until K was done school. K was the “only reason” I was moving, and I never forgot that for the 10 months I lived here. When I was told by immigration that I had to move back to Canada, I realized I had taken Belgium for granted. I hadn’t really enjoyed my time here, because I thought I was just killing time until we could get back to Canada. Be open to new plans, ideas and cultures!
Many trips. Many suitcases.
In total I have moved myself here in 5 (large) suitcases and my cat carrier. It will take you more then one trip, so prioritize! Take the things you absolutely need/use all the time in the first trip, saving less important stuff for future trips.
Check your document dates!
Make sure you have at LEAST 5 years on your passport, because who knows how long you’ll be here, what immigration rules you’ll face or where the adventure could lead you.
For more information about moving a pet internationally CLICK HERE.