Monday, September 21, 2015

Resources for Moving Abroad

I get a surprising amount of emails from people asking me various questions about moving abroad. Some are from families looking for an adventure, some are from travelers looking for advice on a year in Italy and some are from people with very specific questions about housing costs and how to get a Visa. Unfortunately, I'm ill-equipped to answer the more technical questions since Ryan's team has always taken care of everything for us, from apartments to Visas to cars.

But! I do have my own pieces of advice for movers abroad and I do know several great resources for the more technical aspects of the move...

Here are a few tips I've picked up along the way....

Do your research and ask questions. There are multiple websites for expats that have discussion boards where you can ask questions of other expats living in the area (see below). The internet makes it so easy to get in touch with people now, so take advantage of that. I find that bloggers are usually a wealth of information (if I do say so myself!). Many expat sites list blogs and bloggers in various cities, or you can just Google "blogs + whatever city you're interested in." See if you can connect with any of these people directly to ask them specific questions you may have. It's a good idea to make a list of what's important to you, whether it's what the expat community is like in that area, the school system, the availability of jobs...but make sure to leave the door open for information that you may not have thought about. A lot of the emails that I get ask about the quality of life and what a typical day is like, which I love. It shows a lot of foresight in being aware of the fact that when you move abroad, your whole life will change and it's hard to picture the day to day.

Stick with it. The process of moving abroad, especially on your own without the help of a company, can be daunting. There is tons of paperwork and different rules and regulations. But, if you have your heart set on it, don't give up just because it's a pain. Living abroad, even for a short period of time, is so worth it.

Go in with an open mind. The main reason that most people end up not enjoying life abroad is because it's so different than what they're used to at home. But of course it's different! Isn't that why you moved in the first place, for a new experience and new culture?! While I acknowledge that a lot of things that we're not used to can be difficult, it doesn't necessarily mean bad. For example, my famous internet story: last year when we moved back to Italy at the end of August, we didn't have internet in our apartment until the middle of November. And Cortina isn't really the kind of place that has free wifi everywhere either. And I write a blog. So, as you can imagine, that was challenging. But it was also a great time to observe my surroundings and do something other than stare at the computer. Instead of frantically texting friends at home, we played Cribbage and went for walks and chatted and read books. Although no one in our household was complaining when we did finally get the internet in November.

Here are a few good resources if you're thinking of moving abroad:

InterNations - this is a great, professional site for both current and future expats. It has really good information on moving, and also on specific cities and towns. You can connect with people who live in the area and they host expat meetups on a regular basis. This site is great for the whole process, from thinking of moving to taking the plunge to settling in and meeting people.

Expats Blog - this website has a lot of information, but most helpful are the interviews with expats around the world. If you can find one who's living where you're thinking of going, you can contact them directly too.

Taking Route - this site has less technical information, but tons of great reads from expats around the world and it will give you a feel for what expat life is really like, both the good and the bad.

And, if you're interested in moving to Italy specifically - which many people are it seems! - my friend Sarah (remember her interview here?) has written multiple blog posts on the process of moving to Italy, for example "So You Want to Move to Italy...", "8 Things You Should Know Before Visiting the Italian Consulate", "Italian Immigration Law Survival Tips" and "Apartment Hunting in Italy".

So! With all that said - good luck!