Becoming an expat means your whole life shifts. Your first time in a new country is like a glorious first date.
Everything is new, adorable, and fun. You find all the little differences in lifestyle charming and you are easily swooned by the newness of everything around you.
The flaws in the mail system don’t matter and you don’t care that you cannot easily access your bank account at home.
You are not bothered by the job market or anything that boring. You are in love and you just want to absorb everything that country has to offer you.
We’ve all been in that blinding state of joy and fascination, but there are things to consider before becoming an expat.
Becoming an expat will cost you
Becoming an expat might not be cheap, but living in another country is an experience like no other. Still, no matter what country you are moving to, it is going to cost you a sizable chunk of change. You’ll need a flight and chances are you’ll need to check a bag or two.
When you arrive, you are going to need a place to live. You might need to stay in a hostel for a bit while you search out apartments. You’ll need to learn the local language and likely invest in taking lessons.
Keep in mind that foreigners in many places often get charged more than locals for housing (probably rightfully so) and you will most likely need a furnished place – these extra charges add up.
Get ready for commitment
Get over that lovey-dovey, oh-you’re-so-cute stage and prepare yourself for bedhead, dirty laundry and annoying habits as you settle into living the expat life.
Part of the magic of traveling is that you are escaping everyday life, but after becoming an expat, you have to start some sort of daily routine. That means dealing with landlords, banks, post offices and other unpleasant situations.
You’ll also have the added bureaucracy of filing for visas, residency and dealing with embassies.
You will discover that grocery stores are no longer fun and whimsical with all their crazy foods and funny packaging, suddenly, these are your food options and things like peanut butter and pizza rolls are not available.
It’s also smart to remember that trips home may or may not be an option.
Depending on your money situation and distance from home, it may not be financially responsible or possible for you to fly home for visits.
You have to think about how long you want to live abroad and whether or not you can handle that sort of time commitment.
Do you have a future together?
If you are planning to become an expat, you’ll need to establish three things in your new expat life: work, a home, and a social life.
Are these things you can do in your country of choice? What is the job situation? Is English teaching going to be enough to pay the bills? Are you planning to freelance?
You need to find somewhere you can live that is safe, affordable, and close to where you need to be for work or socializing.
Speaking of socializing, what will your friend situation be?
If you already know some people there, great, if not, you need to start joining clubs, attending events or latching on to coworkers to kick start your social life.
If you don’t have a job, home and friends, your new relationship with this country is going to go sour pretty quickly and you might start to feel homesick.
We’re not saying becoming an expat isn’t totally worth it, because it is and it can be– we just encourage you to think things through. There are so many amazing transformations that come from truly immersing yourself in another country. But there are also things that suck (no peanut butter in Argentina, whyyyy?).