How to Move Abroad

If you are considering moving abroad, the whole thought of picking your life up and relocating to a foreign land can be daunting. The whole process can be so overwhelming that it may leave you wondering – is it really worth it?

Rest assured that you are not the first Brit to leave the island and you definitely won’t be the last. There is a plethora of resources at your fingertips to help you at every step of the way. Put the kettle on, put your feet up and take things one step at a time.

Why the big move?

Let’s start simply by asking why you want to move abroad. What is your purpose? Whether it is work, study or just a lifestyle change, this is your primary purpose for the big move and therefore it is important to you. Take a moment to look beyond this and think about all the other wonderful opportunities that living abroad can bring. Discovering a new culture, mastering a foreign language, meeting new people, seeing new places and let’s not forget about all the exciting foreign food (and drinks) we can get our teeth into. Allow yourself to get excited and look forward to all the life-changing experiences coming your way.

Get organised

Now, let’s get organised. All those plans and thoughts and worries in your head, get them all down on paper. Compose a list of all the things you need to do such as employment arrangements, completing Visa paperwork, finding your accommodation, booking flights, and don’t forget to put a date in the diary for leaving drinks!

Connect with people

Now that you are organised, you can start to imagine what life might be like once you move. A great way to do this is to join groups on social media that can help you find friends abroad. Try looking up expats, Brits or English speakers in your new city. If you currently have any hobbies such as painting or yoga, you can sign up for classes once you move to connect with locals and make new friends. If you don’t have any hobbies, moving abroad is a great time to try something else. Alternatively there are a lot of expat meetup groups who often plan lunches and dinners that are usually incredibly welcoming and friendly events. Try out a few different groups to help you find your new buddies abroad.

If you are still feeling uneasy about your big move, make the most of your resources. If you know of anyone who has moved abroad, now might be a great time to connect with them and pick their brains. You can also sign up to WanderingBrits to be part of a community of wanderers just like you. On our website you will find tips, articles and food subscriptions to help you feel at home in your new city. We have a Facebook Group to chat about life abroad as well as a care package subscription service to stop you from missing home.

Take everything one step at a time

Once you have your list and some helpful contacts, consider each task in detail. Try to prioritise your tasks. It is vital at this point that you consider each task in isolation, rather than being overwhelmed by the wider process.

The most important task will probably be employment, closely followed by legal matters such as visas and health insurance. Most expats become slightly obsessive about securing accommodation, however in the age of budget hotels, home stays and spare room locating apps, this may be less urgent than you think.

Now might be a good time to consider what services you would like to use, e.g. do you need the help of a specialist relocation agency? Do you need a lawyer or a tax specialist? Online expat groups can be great at pointing you in the right direction with these questions.

After identifying your most important tasks, you can get the ball rolling by contacting the relevant people and authorities or services.

The last few weeks…

Once you start working your way through your to do list things can start to move very rapidly. You may get a sudden job offer or a placement that starts sooner than you think. Eventually everything will begin to fall into place and your vision of your new life abroad will start to look more realistic. It is important to note that us humans often have unrealistic expectations. Your dream of a mansion in the Hamptons may become more of a studio apartment in New York down the road from your company’s office, but the practicalities of it show that your dream is becoming more realistic.

Eventually your moving date will come around. Many people tend to move a week or two before they begin their new job or placement. The run up to this day may be full of stress with packing, storage, leaving parties and goodbyes, but the big day finally comes and everything becomes very very real.

If you don’t cry when you move abroad, you’ll definitely cry when you leave.

The arrival

Everyone’s experience is different but living abroad changes your perspective in a way that must be experienced to be fully understood. Arriving at your destination with a one-way ticket and no plans to leave is an exhilarating and terrifying feeling that can even become addictive to the more adventurous souls.

The first few days generally involve the admin of life such as registering with the local authorities, finding doctors and dentists, setting up bills, unpacking and getting set up in your new accommodation. Evenings and weekends will be filled with exploring the local area, finding your new favourite restaurants, discovering exciting places to hang out and making travel plans.

The weeks will fly by and they won’t always be easy. Sometimes it’s difficult feeling foreign or like you don’t belong. Eventually you’ll meet people who you connect with and help connect you to your new home.


Once it’s time to visit your old home you will realise that your whole world has changed. You will have a whole library of travel photos, stories and memories to share with your old friends and family but despite all their excitement and enthusiasm they will never truly understand the experience you have lived through. You’ll come to realise that there’s so much more out there than the life you left behind.


WanderingBrits founder. Several-times Expat. General culture and travel enthusiast. Loves tea and makes the best Welsh cakes.

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