6 Things They Don’t Tell You When You Move Overseas

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The things they don’t tell you when you move overseas……………

Before I start, I want to congratulate you on your new life and new career. This is an exciting and nerve-racking time in your life, but one that you should grasp with both hands and relish it. I am basing this information on my experience of living in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), but you can adjust this information to any new country you may be moving to.

1. Mountains of paperwork

This is a process which made me cry out of frustration and laugh out loud too! When you decide you want to move abroad, or you’ve attended numerous interviews for that dream job overseas, make sure you have all your personal documents to hand. I cannot stress this point enough. I am talking about your birth certificate, up to date passport, marriage certificate, all educational certificates, and any past references. This includes the family members that are travelling with you too. You will need all or some of these at times when you least expect it. Using UAE as an example, you will have to get personal documents attested and notarised in the country of origin, along with the documents being sent to various government entities in UAE (dependent on document) where they will be checked, processed and notarised/stamped again. Make sure your CV is up to date, with all dates cross referenced, this will be checked by an outsourced company most of the time too. Have a large amount of passport sized photos made, you will need these for visas, work permits, tenancy agreements, and drivers license. As well as work passes, residential building entry passes, alcohol license etc. the list is endless! Double check all information needed, websites are not always up to date, rules and regulations change, hope and cross fingers that your new company has a decent PRO (public relations officer) who will do all of the running around getting documents processed and notarised in your host country, they will be your new best friend when you start your new job.

2. The grass isn’t always greener

Please make sure you have done your homework and double checked all documents that have been sent to you by your prospective company. Read the contract through more than a few times, check what your entitlements will be, if you feel weird about some bits of information, trust your gut and check again. Remember that job descriptions don’t always tell the whole truth. Just because you live somewhere that is sunny 350+ days of the year, and you live in a plush building that has a gym and a pool, don’t think that life is going to be one long party poolside. Work still goes on, and your work hours could be longer than ever before. Try and use your network to see if anyone knows someone that lives in your host country and find out what they feel and think of the place. You may be dazzled by the idea of a new life, but believe me grass really isn’t always greener……. it’s just a different colour.

3. The people you leave behind

You may not necessarily become homesick for your home country or house, but you will miss family and friends. Remember that you are the one who left them, and their lives will carry on. Everyone will say that they’ll keep in touch, we must Skype, FaceTime, Email all the time. This will happen in the beginning, but will petter off, if you’re not militant about keeping in touch. There are some places in the world where Skype etc. is banned, this means that you will have the most jacked up mobile phone bills going in the beginning, since you’ll be feverishly keeping in touch with your loved ones, and dealing with all the “left over” bits of admin you might need to do in your pervious country. We should all realise that long distance relationships are not easy and they really are hard work. There is also a possibility that your new situation and life is so completely different from your former life and what your friends and family are going through back home, that as the years go on, you do find yourself not having the same things in common anymore. You will have good days and bad days with homesickness, don’t ignore it, but don’t let it rule your world. You moved overseas for a reason, grasp it, live it, enjoy it,  

4. Your finances (aka I learnt the hard way)


You moved overseas to have a better life, a great job, new adventures. Just because you could possibly be earning twice what you were earning at home, make a pact with yourself and SAVE. Don’t be stupid maxing out your credit cards and going out every night partying. Don’t go out and buy a Porsche, a designer bag or book a trip away every weekend, if you can’t afford it. Don’t live above your means. A friend of mine who is in the banking world always suggested to me to save a 1/3 of my monthly income, it’s something that I took to heart and really worked on it to do so. You are in a fantastic position to be able to set yourself up for later in life, pay off your student loans, sort out your debt, help you afford a house if or when you go back home or in your host country, help your family, buy a little holiday home for yourself, get your pension sorted, the list is endless. Different countries have different rules about being overdrawn or having maxed out credit cards with no means of payment.

Do not become your own liability overseas.

I’m not saying that you need to cloister yourself off from the rest of the world and not enjoy your new life. I’m saying be smart and look after yourself and your finances.

5. S@*t happens overseas too

Life can be tough wherever you are living. You may be completely homesick, hate your new job, hate your new city, feel completely lonely, can’t imagine why you ever moved overseas. Just remember that this too shall pass! Settling into a new job and new country can take 6 months or longer. It’s a process, and you need to hold on for the ride. Try always to remind yourself why you wanted a new life, you need to throw yourself into it, meet as many new people as you can, network as much as you can. Enjoy your new adventure, grasp it, live it, enjoy it!

6. Patience is a virtue

Don’t think that everything will get done at a drop of hat when you move countries. Different countries have different tempos and ways of working. You may have to stay in temporary accommodation longer than you think, your allowance may not cover all of the rent for your dream accommodation, the school fees may be higher than you could have ever imagined, they may have a waiting list longer than both your arms too. It will all work out, it always does, they’re the experiences and feathers in your cap that will make you stronger and more resilient.

Enjoy the experience

You’re part of a unique set of people who have the wonderful opportunity of a lifetime. You will have highs and lows, you will be worried and anxious, excited and nervous. Don’t lose focus on why you’re doing this, make your new opportunity count, make it worth your while, and be open to the new adventures and challenges that await you.

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