Moving to somewhere new, be it down the street or across an ocean is always exciting. There are constantly new and exciting things around every corner; people, places, ways of life.
With the world ever expanding, and transportation easily accessible to many of us, it comes as no surprise that there is a rise in people moving abroad. So I did it myself straight after university. Sporting my now out of fashion harem pants and a one way ticket, I dragged myself and two big suitcases half-way across the world to Japan.
It’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement when you’re planning the big move. So easy in fact, that it’s dangerously simple to forget about the practicalities. I get it, it’s stressful, especially with each one being seemingly more important and twice as expensive than the last.
With that being said, here are a few things to think about when choosing, and preparing to move country.
This may not seem like a huge deal, especially if the country has a high number of people who speak your native language. Many people are happy enough to live in a country for years with only the bare minimum vocabulary to get through daily life. However, being able to speak the native language of the country you intend to life will save you a lot of hassle. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t even bother moving if you can’t speak said language, or that you need to become fluent; Learn the essentials, learn important medical and financial words that you may need to use. Many people rely on others they already know living in that country, but they won’t be around all the time and at some point you are going to be stuck in a situation where the only person you can rely on is yourself. Be ready, and be prepared. Plus, learning languages is fun! Take classes – this is also a great way to meet friends and get involved in your local area. Learning can be fun guys!
I knew Japan would be hot, but I had no idea just how hot is hot. I have been here for a total of four years now, and I can honestly say, without hesitation, that Japanese summers are the worst. With ninety percent humidity and highs of mid thirty decrease, there is no escaping the oppressive heat that has you sweating like a sumo in the desert. Climate should not be a deal breaker, but something to bare in mind. If the country you want to visit has a disagreeable climate, is there another similar country which is better suited for you? Google is your friend here, use it!
RENTING A HOUSE
Every country has their own way of doing things, and you need to be well versed before you show up. Here in Japan you are expected to pay key money, aka, a thank you to the landlord for letting you stay at their property. This is usually three months rent, which means more saving before you come. I had a bit of a nasty shock when I found this out, but lucky the company made a deal and allowed me to pay back slowly. Cultural differences extend to every part of life, and often times appear in the most unexpected of places. Do your best to be prepared.
Okay, this one sounds silly, but what we eat can affect us in more ways than we realise. Are you allergic to anything in the country’s staple foods? Can you remain healthy on a different diet? If you have food restrictions, it’s always best to learn key words to look for in ingredients and do your research. Learn how to ask ‘Does this have_______ in it?’ in the native language . This question in particular has saved my vegetarian soul a million times. Another key tip is to make sure they actually understand what you mean by ‘meat’ or ‘no dairy’ etc. Here in Japan, bacon isn’t considered meat, and even after asking for no meat I often end up with bacon filled pasta. It’s always best to learn how to double check, for your own health and peace of mind.
WHAT KIND OF JOBS ARE AVAILABLE TO YOU
What kind of jobs are available to you is kind of a big deal. Maybe you’re moving within your own company, or maybe you’re doing it alone. Do extensive research not only on what jobs you are eligible for, but also work culture. Job culture will vary from country to country and field to field; It’s kind of a tough one to prepare for. However, if you read up as much as you can before entering your new environment, you will save yourself a lot of embarrassment and hopefully the blow will be softened by knowledge.
HOW EASILY YOU CAN TRAVEL HOME
As much as I love living in Japan, it’s far from home. Since making the move, I’ve missed many important events such as weddings and sadly, funerals. It’s hard being away from home when people need you, and even more so when you need them.The further you are from home, the more money it will cost you to travel back and forth. Distance is by no means a deal breaker, but it’s something that bares a great deal of consideration.
As you can see with all of these pointers, the key to a smooth move is research and preparation. Moving abroad is a fantastic adventure, a dream come true! But it can quickly turn into a nightmare if you are unprepared and oblivious to the situation you are making for yourself. Give yourself the best chances, you deserve them.
Photography: Naomi Post Processing: Rae