Between 1999 and 2016, the U.S. State Department estimated that the number of American citizens living abroad increased from four to nine million. Moving or retiring to a foreign country is clearly a dream for many of us, but there are many practical considerations that if left unattended can turn the whole process into a nightmare.

To help make things less daunting, read on for seven essential tips that will simplify your move abroad.

Find Out What Paperwork You’ll Need

When moving to a new country, it’s likely that you will be asked to show every type of document you can imagine. A handful of the most important includes your birth certificate, marriage certificate, passport, driving license, and bank statement.

Some countries might also require visas for work. Austrailia, for example, has very specific visas depending on your age or profession. The best place to check for the right information is the official government website of the country you’re emigrating to.

Think About How You Will Make New Friends

Being a stranger in a new country isn’t nice, and making sure everyone in your family makes new friends can be hard. Luckily, in the modern age, social networking has made things a lot easier. Checking in with local expat Facebook groups is a good way to find other people that have recently made the same move. Alternatively, when moving to a non-English speaking country, language schools and classes are a great place to bond with people who are in a similar situation to you.

Research The Price Of Living

Before you move to a new country, assess whether you can still live the life you’ve become accustomed to. You will need to consider everything from the price of bread to the cost of electricity and water. If you’re used to getting a haircut once a month or treating the family to a sit-down meal, what will you have to pay to keep enjoying these little luxuries? In short, don’t assume you’ll pay the same for life’s essentials in Sydney than you do in Seattle.

Make Sure You Understand The Healthcare System

Healthcare works very differently around the world. When you or a member of your family gets sick, you’ll want peace of mind that you’ll be able to see a healthcare professional. The quickest way to do this is through private international health insurance. Valid across borders, this type of insurance ensures that your medical expenses are covered while living abroad, regardless of the unique laws of your new country of residence.

Learn How To Get Around

You will need to discover how to get to work, school, shopping, and all the other activities that are essential for everyday life. Some countries have cheap and reliable public transport systems that are easy to use; others do not. Research how you will get around, taking particular note of the correct names for stops and what payment systems you can use. If you’re planning to drive, make sure your license is valid, you’re familiar with the traffic laws, and your insurance is in order.

Take A Little Part of Home With You

You will have to embrace a certain level of change when living abroad, but there are some things you won’t be able to live without. Stock up on your favorite snacks, drinks, and beauty products, especially if you know they will be hard to find in your new home.

Phone and Skype calls to loved ones back home are likely to become an important part of your new life. In addition to buying a local sim card to avoid paying hefty roaming fees, pack a multi-country plug adapter. This way, you will guarantee your smartphone or tablet doesn’t run out of charge when you need it most.

Declutter And Prioritize

Last but not least is one of the hardest tasks: decluttering and prioritizing what you want to keep and what you want to throw away.

With thousands of miles separating you from friends and family, you’ll probably need to make room for those precious photos and items of sentimental value. For a lot of the other stuff you own, you may need a dumpster rental and a massive purge of all those old books, clothes, bills, receipts and plastic containers you’ve been hoarding for no good reason.

So there you have it: seven essential tips before moving abroad. As in every walk of life, people make mistakes when moving abroad. However, following the advice outlined in this post, you will be able to avoid some of the smallest mistakes that can present biggest challenges.

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