Moving On Out (Of The Country)

You like where you're at, or you hate it--but either way, you're ready to move to another country.  Congratulations--you're about to become an expat!  With some things it pays to just jump in and do it, but if you're moving to another country as a single woman, there are numerous financial and personal variables to consider as you plan, so your new life has a solid base to build on.

Your income

If you're not transferring with your current job, how will you earn your income?  Do you speak the language and have an instantly transferable skill?  Do you have a "rent" job lined up like waitressing/temping/consulting that will just keep you on your feet until the real job shows up? Do you have a work visa?  Do you need certification in that country to practice your profession?  Clearly you've got your work (ha-ha) cut out for you.  But really, as a single woman, your income is your passport to freedom, so make sure you've got this planned before you step foot out the door.

Your immediate/foreseeable expenses

Again, if you're not moving with a job, how many month's of expenses do you have saved?  Remember to include the actual moving expenses, visas, fees for country entry, first month/last month's rent, food, transportation and any new clothing you may have to buy.  Follow your new currency as soon as possible and start changing money when the FX ,or foreign exchange, rates are best.  Chris, a 44 year old Polish national, now living in Canada said that saving was key.

"I was able to see the classified rent ads online in the Toronto Star before I came and I guessed at the neighbourhood I wanted.  Even from my guessing game, I was able to build a budget for those first few months that allowed me to survive before I got my first IT job. Now I'm here 15 years and I remember how good it felt not to have to rely on my family."

The government

Even though you're not a landed immigrant or citizen of the new country, you may be arrested based on an assumption that you're responsible to know the basic laws and mores of the country. Understand the rules of the country and city in which you're planning to live.  Can you drive?  Can you vote?  Can you be arrested for PDAs with a guy if you're not married?  It's not only respectful of the new culture of which you're choosing to be a part, but also a survival basic for any single woman, know the government and basic laws that will affect your new living situation.

The language

Are you fluent?  Taking classes?  Going to live with a native speaker until you catch up?  If you have to earn your living in another language, start learning now.  Marisol, a 27 year old Spanish native who now lives in Manhattan said that even though she studied English in school, before relocating with a healthcare job, she downloaded and watched as many movies and TV shows as possible to learn idioms.  "I couldn't put them in a sentence when I arrived, but because everyone here speaks so fast, it really helped me listen smarter."

Your social network

Studies have suggested that a solid social network can equate to strong mental and even physical health--and we mean can you can call a pal up and go to the movies, through your besties and your family.  Make sure you're in a good headspace to meet new friends and have new experiences.  Are there blogs about your new city that can get you up to speed on local festivals, holidays and general cultural norms?  It pays to tap into the reach of social networking as you start to plan even.  Facebook/Tweet connect with others who like, say, knitting in Bologna or cycling in Utrecht.

I moved to Toronto from Manhattan on a Friday.  Because I web surfed and researched and called around, on Monday I was lindy hop dancing with people would become dear friends.  It pays to transfer what you love and what you do best first--you'll instantly feel at home.

Your communication

Will you Skype or keep your old cell?  How will you access the internet from your new place?  Facebook and Meetup type groups are even more valuable when you land in a new city, especially one in a different country where you may not know anyone.  It's important, then, to know how you'll access the web getting there and once you arrive.

Your pet

If you're bringing Fido or Fluffy, make sure they'll be accepted by your new government, your apartment/house, your roommate(s).  What vaccinations are important, what paperwork, are there quarantine issues?  Do they have to be microchipped?  Certainly make sure their needs are met in the main travel route there and once you arrive.  Bringing a supply of their favourite food and treats is a good idea. If you can set up a reliable vet or walker/sitter maybe from recommendations from a breed rescue, a local pet group, or a new local vet.

The city in question

Is it livable? Livable based on criteria that matters? Is there good public transport? How is the pollution/ecology of the area?   Are there major hospitals nearby?  Check out the main U.S. citizen travel website for the most current economic, stable government and social conditions and travel advisories.

Health insurance

Besides stocking up on any prescription you need for emergencies or take regularly, how will you be covered for emergencies and beyond in your new country. Morgan, a 32 year old marketer found that having emergency insurance until she was covered in Hungary made all the difference.  "I had the worst asthma attack my first week on my new job.  I had bought Blue Cross health."

Do it young, with a lot of knowledge and most of all, enjoy the experience!