10 Mistakes to Avoid When Moving Overseas


Last Updated: February 24th, 2020

Airplane reflected in a puddle on city street

Guest Post by Matt Woodley

Moving overseas is a great adventure, whether it's for work, pleasure, or family reasons. With cheap airfares, more of us than ever are traveling to new places, meeting new people and embracing different cultures — to the point we decide to leave our home countries behind.

However, with such a big undertaking comes many opportunities for mistakes. Packing up and moving your life abroad comes with a ton of complications.

With that in mind, we've put together this guide on the top 10 mistakes people make when moving overseas. Thinking of taking the plunge?

Here are our 10 mistakes to avoid:

1. Losing money when moving money

Transferring money to your new country is a necessary part of your move. It's believed moving money through personal accounts and your regular bank is the safest way to transfer money overseas.

However, a far more cost-effective way to send money abroad is via a dedicated money transfer company. Consumers are more empowered to take advantage of the lower (or no) fees, which some international money transfer services provide.

To ensure you’re getting the best exchange rate with a minimal charge, it’s important to keep an eye on changing rates. Strike while rates are favourable using a trustworthy transfer service with low fees.

2. Not doing your research

We're all guilty of assuming things about certain aspects of a country, such as the climate and culture. How many times have you turned up on holiday to a town or hotel that's totally different from what you saw online? Moving your whole life to somewhere new is no different. It's best to take your time and look through all the finer details.

A good starting point is to research the weather, social behaviours, average homes, and day-to-day aspects of your new life. This can extend to employment, lifestyle, transport, and education.

Researching your region or city helps you focus on planning the early stages of your move. You'll be more relaxed if you gain prior knowledge and a link to an expat community. People can dive straight in and expect to pick it up as they go, which is very risky.

Storage containers for international moving

3. Using a bad relocation service

When you move and decide to bring your possessions with you, they're shipped around the globe, are handled at different ports, and spend time in storage. You want to sleep easy with the knowledge that it's all waiting for you on the other side.

When moving abroad, it's recommended to use a recognized trade body. You want to be certain the relocation company has professional experience and appropriate terms and conditions.

If you ignore this and go with a less reputable company, there's an increased risk of your belongings going missing or getting damaged — a big added expense and stress.

4. Choosing the wrong health plan

It's incredibly important to research the laws surrounding healthcare in your new country. In many places, foreign nationals aren't entitled to subsidized or free health care.

If you opt for cheap insurance or a basic plan, it may end up offering inadequate cover when you need it. This can lead to the need to purchase additional coverage if illness or injury strikes. Limited health coverage can make it more expensive in the long run because you'll need to pay for your medical expenses out-of-pocket.

5. Buying property too soon

There's nothing wrong with diving in and buying a property, but it doesn't hurt to take a bit of time and rent first. Even if you rent for a few weeks or months, it will help you decide what's best for you and give you time to look at other options.

You will get a good idea regarding what you want and what you don’t want from a property, both in terms of property type and the location. You might love your new pad, but find your neighbours difficult or decide you'd rather be in a different area.

Also, bear in mind the rules regarding foreigners buying property in your new country. There are sometimes regulations around this.

Girl holding money in front of her face

6. Not budgeting well

It can be easy to underestimate the amount of money you need when moving overseas. In your planning, you need to set a reasonable budget for the costs of moving.

Thanks to the internet, you should be able to find the average costs for food, travel, visas, accommodation, removal services, insurance, and immunizations.

When you decide how much money you're going to need, we recommend adding a chunk more just to be safe. Plan for unforeseen circumstances and have a bit extra stashed away.

7. Not managing your time

Moving abroad is time-consuming. You might have been planning your move for months, but suddenly it creeps up on you. You'll be surprised how fast time can go when the moving date comes around.

If you create a regimented schedule, you can add a list of jobs that need doing and start ticking them off as you go. Set a deadline date for packing up your house, buying insurance and necessities, and finding a new job. If you don't bother with a plan, you could find yourself panicking and unprepared.

8. Rushing your move

It's natural to get ahead of yourself when you've decided you're ready to move. It's an exciting time! But before cementing your plans, think a bit deeper about your decision.

You may find yourself in a rush to start a new life and fall in love with a new place, but a two-week trip to another country versus living there are two very different things.

It's wise to visit your new destination as many times as possible and view it through the eyes of a local or expat. Consider that you'll be far away from family, friends, and home comforts. Once you have taken off your rose-tinted glasses, you might feel differently.

9. Visiting home too soon

Although there's nothing wrong with heading back to see friends or family, it can be damaging if done too soon. Regular trips between home and away might make you feel unsettled and lost.

Remaining grounded is imperative if you've moved your family overseas. If you've taken children out of school and away from their friends, the last thing you want to do is unsettle them and shake up their new foundations.

Man sightseeing in a city

10. Moving for the wrong reasons

Think very carefully about why you want to move before you do it. Relocation is a dream for many, but the reality can be very different. Settling down permanently in a foreign place is hard work. If you want to escape from your normal life, it might be hard to find your place immediately in another country.

If you have a passion for your new country and believe you'll lead a better professional and social life, by all means, go for it! However, it's important to remember that not all is what it seems, and you shouldn't set your expectations too high.

Ready to live overseas?

With something as life-changing as a move overseas, there's bound to be some obstacles. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of the trials and tribulations faced by some expats.

If you thoroughly consider your decision, make a solid plan, and handle the necessities gradually, you'll make your move smooth and easy.

Bon voyage!

Matt Woodley is the founder of MoverFocus and is a veteran of the moving industry and a recognized moving expert. Matt holds a Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) majoring in Finance and Marketing and Bachelor of Arts (BA) majoring in Economics and History. He also has completed the EiM (Essentials in International Moving) course from the FIDI Academy.

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