If you are thinking about that expat lifestyle or have been swayed by the idea of being a digital nomad, we don’t blame you, but there are some things to consider. There is more to moving abroad than telling your boss you are working from home and then boarding a plane, as attractive as that might be.
If you are thinking of moving abroad, you might want to take a look at the guide we are offering to make sure you have your ducks in a row before you leave.
The first step when you are looking at where you want to move to, or even if you have fallen in love with somewhere, is to look at your target country’s cost of living rate. Cover everything from the average rent in the area you’re looking at to the average cost of a week’s worth of food and build yourself a budget. Cost of living will vary from country to country, and often from city to city, and depend on a variety of factors such as the quality of life or political climate.
Most countries recommend that you have your job lined up but that you rent for the first few months of living there. This will allow you to house hunt physically, rather than relying on the limited view of what the internet is showing you. You can get a feel for the neighborhoods, ask locals what their recommendations are, and see for yourself if the home needs work.
You can use a mortgage calculator to redo your budget and understand if you can afford any of the homes in the area. It is a good way to break down your spending month to month and get your head around what you will realistically have to spend to make your dream a reality.
An extra helpful tip would be to install a VPN. If you are determined to buy before you land you can then access the local websites for information on homes and neighborhoods. It will also allow you to way up your other monthly bills, like gas bills, television packages, commuting, etc.
You will have to take into account whether you are willing to learn a new language. The more rural and the more you step out of Europe you go, the less the chances are the locals are speaking English. Sure, a lot of major cities have embraced learning at least some English for their tourists, and that’s good of them, but that gets less vital the more rural you go, and it’s only reliable if you intend to only talk to waitresses wherever you go. Have you ever heard of how locals like to take advantage of tourists? Not understanding the language is a big part of that scam.
It is respectful to at least meet the locals halfway, so look up the local language and get to learning. The famed app Duolingo may look like it’s aimed at children, but it turns learning language into a simple game where you earn XP and medals, and you can see your progress. You will need it if you’re headed to China, Colombia, or Russia, where less than 10 per cent of the population speak English.
Besides, the more you use it the easier it becomes, and you will soon see yourself become more confident in your new home as you learn and use your newfound language skills.
The social norms
You might want to Google some of the social norms and laws of the country you’re going to. People are proud of their heritage, so you’d be surprised at what can offend locals, even if you’re only moving from London to Manchester. It will make establishing relationships and conducting business easier, especially if networking is a big factor. You wouldn’t want to ruin a date by rubbing your chopsticks together, implying that they were cheap and that you’re in a cheap restaurant, or lose a client in Iraq or Iran by giving them a thumbs up, which is akin to the middle finger.
Knowing the basics of what is accepted in your target country can help you avoid some embarrassing missteps that would make you look like the new Borat at best, and at worst it might help you avoid a fine.
For example, Singaporeans are proud of their strictly clean country, which will distribute fines to people littering or chewing gum. In Venice, feeding the pigeons can lead to a fine too, since the birds are taking over popular landmarks.
And then there are the more conservative countries. Dressing immodestly or disrespecting religious traditions can land someone in jail, and yet plenty of people think they’re smart enough to smuggle Class B drugs in that are accepted elsewhere. Don’t be that guy that makes the national news back home.