Moving Abroad In 14 Steps

Moving abroad in 14 simple steps: how to feel prepared and excited about moving to another country!

Moving abroad is an exciting and daunting adventure. 

If you’ve always wanted to move abroad, but you’re not sure where to begin, hopefully this article will be helpful!

It can seem overwhelming to move to another country. But once you actually do it, the process becomes easier. 

I’ve now lived in the UK, Italy, and Australia, so I’ve experienced the process multiple times. 

You just have to do your research, put in some effort to get organized, and take the leap!

So here are my 14 steps for moving abroad. The steps may vary depending on each individual situation, so just use these steps as a guideline and modify where necessary. 

14 Steps For Moving Abroad

I’ve separated this list of steps for moving abroad into two sections: before you leave your home country, and after you arrive in your new country. 

Keep in mind, moving abroad doesn’t necessarily have to be a permanent thing. 

You can be moving abroad for a few months or a few years. You could be studying, taking on a temporary job placement, or trying volunteer work

The beauty of living in a new country is you can always move back home if it doesn’t work out. So it’s definitely worth trying!

For money-saving tips while abroad, check out my ultimate list of 50 budget travel tips!

Steps For Moving Abroad: Before You Leave

Here are some steps you should take at home to prepare for your move. Research and careful planning is key to having a seamless transition to living in a new country! The more preparation you do at home, the less you’ll have to do when you arrive. 

Guatemala travel
Doing lots of pre-trip research is always a great idea, whether you’re moving abroad or just traveling for fun!

1. Pick Your Destination

If you already know where you’re going to move, you can obviously skip this step!

But some people love the notion of moving abroad; they just don’t know where to go. So take some time to research different countries until you find the place that suits you best!

Here are a few factors to consider when picking a new country to live in:


Do you want to live in a big city or in a relaxed, small town? Do you want to live near the beach or in the mountains? Pick somewhere that has a climate and landscape that appeals to you. This world is so diverse so you are bound to find a place that intrigues you!

Language Barrier

Can you speak the language in your new country? If not, are you willing to learn? And can you get by with your native language until you become fluent? Many countries, particularly in places like Europe, have a huge number of bilingual or trilingual residents. Big cities often see more languages spoken as well.

But moving to a rural town in a non-touristy country where you don’t speak the language may make it difficult to adjust to your new life. So take the language barrier into account!

Job Opportunities

This is a super important thing to consider. Will you be able to find work in this new country? Unless you plan on just doing work exchanges (which I’ll get into later), you’ll need to make money to support yourself.

If you don’t have a job set up before you move, take the time to research the job market in your new country to ensure you have a decent chance of finding work. 

Quality of Life

With the right mindset, you can find happiness anywhere in the world. But research the standard of living in your new destination. What are wages like compared to the cost of living? What is the crime rate? What are the demographics like? How is the healthcare and transportation?

Check out these basic stats just so you know what to expect in your new country. The CIA World Factbook is a handy website that summarizes everything you may need to know about a country. Reading travel blogs is helpful as well!

2. Research Visas

Once you have decided on your destination, look into the visa situation. Every country has a unique set of visas, and every visa has a different level of difficulty for obtaining it. 

iVisa is a super helpful tool for researching visas online. Put in your nationality and your destination and see what options are available. 

Student visas, work visas, volunteering visas, working holiday visas, and digital nomad visas are all common options. 

Some visas can take months to get approved, and you often have to gather documents and fill out forms. So it’s important to start the visa process well in advance before moving abroad!

Find more info about visas around the world on

australian partner visa cover photo queensland
The visa process for moving to Australia has been lengthy, but worth it!

3. Save Money

If you have a destination picked out and a visa that’s getting approved, you can start to get excited about your move! 

Pick a time frame for the move, and make sure you have enough money saved to support yourself during the transition. 

Many visas often require you to have minimum amount of money in savings anyway, but it’s a good idea even your visa doesn’t require it.

The amount of money you’ll need will vary depending on your situation. But it’s better to have too much money than not enough!

If you’re unsure about whether your savings will be enough, it’s better to just wait a few months and save more just to be safe. 

Generally speaking, you’ll want enough money in savings to do the following:

  • Pay rent for 3 months
  • Buy yourself food for 3 months
  • Buy a plane ticket home if necessary
  • Fully support yourself until you can find employment

If you already have a job set up abroad, you won’t need to worry about savings as much. But if you’re completely starting over, make sure you can support yourself while you look for a job!

Read next: How To Afford Traveling The World In Your 20s

4. Make Your Money Accessible

Another important thing to consider is how you will access your money once you move abroad. 

Unless you’re moving somewhere that has the same currency as you (which is unlikely unless you live in the Eurozone), you’ll need to find a way to transfer your money to the new currency. 

There are a few ways to do this:

Have a bank account without foreign transaction fees

This is the best way to access your money abroad. If you use a quality, international bank, you can simply put your debit/card into a foreign ATM and withdraw the local cash without any extra fees. 

Every country has their own unique banks, but in the US some of the best banks that offer no foreign transaction fee accounts include Chase, Charles Schwab, Capital One, Discover, and more.

This is the easiest and most cost-effective way to get money abroad. 

Exchange Cash

You can also bring some cash with you and exchange it for the local currency. 

I wouldn’t recommend this method, simply because carrying around a bunch of cash is always a bit risky. 

Some banks and currency exchanges charge hefty commissions as well, so you may lose a bit of money. Always avoid exchanging currency at the airport, they overcharge alot. Wait until you get into the town or city and use a local bank. 

Wire Transfer

Another way to access your money abroad is electronically transferring a sum to the new currency. Wise is a great company for this, so is Paypal

But to do this, there needs to be a bank account on the receiving end. Once you arrive in your new country and set up a local bank account, you can wire transfer yourself some cash. 

Or if you have a friend or family member that lives in your new country, organize to transfer them money and they can give you cash. 

Once you get a job, you should be able to start accumulating local currency and stop needing to access your old currency!

cafe australia moving abroad
Working in a cafe is an easy way to start making money when you move abroad.

5. Book Flights

Now it’s time to book flights! This is when the move starts to feel real. 

To find the cheapest flights abroad, use the following tips:

  • Plan your move for off-season when flights are cheapest
  • Consider flying budget airlines
  • Be flexible with your dates

I always use Skyscanner to find flights abroad. Their search platform makes it easy to find the cheapest days to fly!

6. Pack The Essentials

The packing process for moving abroad can be very overwhelming. I recommend starting a list a few weeks in advance and continuing to add to it over time as ideas pop in your head. 

It’s super easy to overpack while traveling, especially if you’re moving abroad for a long time. 

But I’ve learned that less is more!

Pack the essentials, but also take some of your most treasured sentimental items that will bring you happiness. 

More often than not, you’ll buy lots of stuff in your new home. Facebook Marketplace and other local buy/sell websites are super helpful for getting what you need. 

If you’re moving abroad permanently, chances are you’ll visit home once in a while so you can always bring over more stuff at a later date if you need to!

Find more packing tips and ideas: 15 Must-Have Travel Essentials

7. Find A Place To Stay

You’ll obviously need somewhere to stay when you arrive in a new country! 

Sorting out a permanent residence can be done once you arrive, but definitely have a place picked out for your first few nights. 

If you know someone who lives there, reach out to them and ask if you can stay with them for a few nights. 

Having a local to help you get set up is always handy. And more often than not, they will be thrilled to host you and show you around. 

If you don’t know anyone, book a hostel! Hostels provide social environments which are great for meeting people and asking questions about your new situation. They’re also cheap!

Work Exchange

I’ll quickly mention work exchanges because they are an excellent way to live and work abroad. 

Working in exchange for accommodation can help you save money and experience the local culture!

Common work exchanges include:

  • Hostels (Doing reception, bartending, housekeeping)
  • Farms/Eco-Villages (Doing gardening, maintenance, cooking)
  • Living with a local family (Helping with childcare, animal care, language practice)
  • Working for a local business (Doing photography, digital marketing)

You can set this up online before you arrive via Worldpackers or Workaway.

So whether you’re doing a work exchange or you’re moving abroad for another reason, definitely have accommodation booked for your first few nights. It will relieve a lot of stress when you get off the plane. 

For more info on working in exchange for accommodation, check out my Ultimate Guide to Work Exchange!

moving abroad south africa
Work exchange is my favorite way to travel! We found free accommodation in South Africa using this strategy.

Steps For Moving Abroad: When You Arrive

Here are some of the steps you’ll most likely need to take when you land in your new country. Some of these steps for moving abroad can be done before you arrive as well, but some of them are easily done when you arrive. 

8. Set Up A Bank Account

Setting up a local bank account is something you’ll need to do in person. I would make this one of the very first things you do when you arrive. 

Do some research and ask around at your accommodation for what the best local banks are. Then go to a branch with any necessary documents and set up a local account!

This is also a good time to complete any other local requirements, such as tax documents or other requirements for students, digital nomads, professionals, etc.

For example, in Australia you’re required to have a Superannuation account and tax file number. 

Every country is different! So just do a bit of research or ask the staff at the bank about tax documents and other requirements so you can get all set up for your new life. 

9. Find Somewhere To Live

Whether you’re staying in a hostel or with a friend when you first arrive, start browsing for places to live more permanently!

If you’re a student you’ll probably have student accommodation available. 

But if you’re traveling alone or you’re a backpacker, you’ll want to find a good place to set up camp for the next few months. 

Local facebook groups, rental websites, and flatmate websites are super handy.

You can even stay at your hostel long-term if you love the environment there! Consider working at the hostel in exchange for free accommodation. 

Read next: 22 Solo Travel Tips: How To Travel The World Alone

10. Find A Job (can also do this before you arrive)

You can simultaneously be looking for a job and a place to live, but those are the two most important things to figure out when you move abroad!

If you’re studying, moving abroad for business, working as a digital nomad, or doing a work exchange, then all this will already be organized which is great. 

But if you’re on a working holiday or you’re completely starting fresh, you may still need to find employment. 

Often the best way to find a job is just the reliable task of handing out resumes in person. Make sure your resume is catered to the local style. 

Also check local job search websites. If you’re struggling to find a job, try a work exchange to at least save money on accommodation while you look for something. 

But with some determination and persistence, you should eventually be able to find work!

11. Make Friends

Making good friends when you move abroad can always be a bit of a struggle!

But it does depend on your situation.

For example, when I moved to Rome I was working for a student travel company. I had a very social job and lived with 5 other people my age, so I had friends immediately. 

But when I moved to Australia, I didn’t know anyone except my partner! It’s taken me years to make good friends!  

As an adult, the easiest way to make friends is through work. That’s why I’ve always loved working in restaurants. It’s how I’ve made all my friends abroad!

Even if that’s not your type of career, consider doing one or two nights a week of hospitality or another fun job just for the social aspect. 

If you’re a student, join some clubs! If you’re a professional, go to company events and social gatherings. If you’re a backpacker, hang out in hostels or do a social work exchange. 

moving abroad rome travel company
Working for a very social travel company in Rome made it easy to make friends!

12. Learn/Practice The Language (If Applicable)

If you’re moving to a country where you don’t speak the language, you should absolutely start learning! 

Use language-learning apps like Duolingo, set up language practice sessions with a native speaker, or take formal classes. 

Learning a new language is hard and it takes lots of practice and dedication. But it’s worth it!

13. Set Up Healthcare (If Applicable)

Definitely look into the healthcare situation in your new country. This differs greatly from place to place, but having some form of health care or health insurance is very important. 

While you’re first traveling to your new country and getting set up, you may just want to get standard travel insurance

Then as your residence becomes more permanent, look into the best ways to get healthcare in your new country. 

You don’t want to have an accident or illness and find yourself struggling physically or financially. So take some time to figure out your best healthcare option!

Read my Budget Traveler’s Guide To Travel Insurance for more details about that! My favorite website to use for travel insurance is Squaremouth.

14. Explore!

Once you’ve gotten yourself settled in and you have some free time, explore!

Moving abroad is a huge privilege. Not everyone has the means to move their life to another country, so take advantage of your unique opportunity.

Go out as often as you can! Explore nature, venture to new areas of the city, take interesting classes, eat new foods, take day trips, take weekend trips.

Whatever you do, avoid sitting at home too often. It can make you feel homesick and keep you from adapting to your new environment. Try to get out, experience the world around you, and find the joy in your new life.

Definitely take down time to relax and contact loved ones at home, but make exploring your new home a priority.

australia moving abroad
I love exploring Australia – it makes me feel less homesick and helps me appreciate how lucky I am to live abroad!

Thanks for reading my 14 steps to move abroad!

I really hope this article is helpful to anyone who is thinking about moving overseas. It can seem intimidating, but it is such a rewarding experience.

Living abroad will make you grow as a person so much, and you never know what types of experiences or relationships are out there waiting for you.

There is so much beauty and culture in the world, and it’s a joy to be able to travel and live in different places!

If anyone has any questions or comments, I would love to hear them! Drop a comment below!


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