Making That First Step Towards Living Abroad

So you know you want a change – you want to experience life in another country – but before going anywhere it is important to do your research and choose the best country for you. This will of course depend on many different factors: whether you have a family, what type of work you’d potentially be looking for, how long you intend on staying there for and what youíre looking for in the chosen country. Here are the first things that you should consider before making any rushed decisions:


Of course, before doing anything, you will need to check whether you will be eligible to live and work in your preferred country. The ease of being granted entry into a country will vary depending on your current citizenship, the country you’re looking to enter, your qualifications and profession, your reasons for seeking entry – to study, to work, to travel, to live, – and your marital status, among others. Typically, you will come across the following visa – student visas, travel visas for tourists and business professionals, temporary work permits, and permanent visas. For more information about your eligibility for such visas, it is recommended that you take a look at the government immigration website of your country of interest, to visit their embassy or to seek the help of visa services companies, like this one here for the US, who can assist you in the application process.


If you’re considering living in another country permanently or for an extended period, you’ll no doubt be considering working there too. Before making any concrete decisions it is important that you do your research about the national labor market – are there job opportunities for your field of work? How is the economic situation over there? Is there high unemployment? Furthermore, language is also a major factor which will come into play when looking for work abroad. If you don’t speak the local language yet and are hoping to find work straight away, you must be realistic and assess whether there are vacancies allowing you to work in English or another foreign language which you may be fluent in. It is always worth considering and looking into the possibility of working as an English teacher where positions are available.

Standard of living

To assess whether a potential move is really a good idea, you must be realistic about how life will be over there. If you have a family, for instance, you will want to look into quality of state education or whether you can afford private international schooling for your kids, how safe the country is, the quality of health care and the general quality of life overall. In terms of finances, you must consider how well you can live over there for your money – be realistic about how much you expect to earn, how much you have saved and how much you will expect your monthly expenses to be. Particularly when you are intending on residing there permanently, before making the move, you must check whether you can actually afford to live there and whether you will be better or worse off in the long-run.
Moving abroad is a huge step and is not always easy, but being realistic and carefully planning can make it all the more straightforward and worthwhile.

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An American who likes to move around. I now live on the eastern Canadian seaboard. My job? A stay-at-home dad for two cute but demanding bosses. My wife? Also cute; not so demanding. My wife and I both love travel. We met in South Korea, travelled across Australia, India, Europe and beyond. We lived in Czech Republic for four years. Many stories to tell and experience to share. If you let me, I will help you travel as we do. Enjoy.

One thought on “Making That First Step Towards Living Abroad”

  1. Hey Jeff, great to see some fresh material on EYS. You’ve hit on most of the usual things I check on when I consider a new expat destination.

    As you mentioned, it’s always a good idea to put together a back-of-the-napkin type budget early on. There are some websites out there that have fairly detailed statistics. I don’t have a link handy but they are pretty easy to find. Also make sure you check on income tax. And remember that if you’re a US citizen you’ll still need to file a US tax return, and may end up owing taxes.

    Taxes can be a complicated mess. Best to be aware of what you’ll be up against going in. I’ve chatted a bit with the owner of He’s a good resource, and an American expat himself.

    As for me, my time in Malaysia will be ending soon. I was planning on moving back to US for a couple years, but a recruiter from Ireland found me on LinkedIn. So I may be going to Dublin. We’ll see. Don’t have an offer yet 🙂

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