10 helpful tips for anyone thinking of living overseas

December 13, 2018 Updated: December 13, 2018

Wanderlust captivated you so hard that you’re looking at expat job boards in your country of choice? We’ve all been there at some point, but there are those who are a little more willing to pull the trigger.

Living and working abroad is an incredibly rewarding experience, one that everyone should consider if their circumstances allow it and are up for a bit of an adventure. We’ve compiled a list of the 10 most important things to consider before you begin your trek across the world to your new life.

Vaccines

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Illustration – Shutterstock | Billion Photos

Before leaving the United States and embarking on your adventure, it’s crucial you ensure that you’re up to date on all immunizations, most notably your tetanus booster. While these vaccines are also often available to most of the countries you might be considering relocating to, there are added concerns, and risks, while trying to find vaccines, namely ensuring that what you’re receiving is the actual vaccine and not a fake. More on this in number seven.

Don’t draw uninvited comparisons

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This is a widespread complaint that many seasoned expats, or travelers, can vouch for. Unless asked, locals dislike when their country, practices, or culture are compared to any western countries. Even by casually mentioning it, it gives the impression that the way things are done in the west is somehow better and the rest are not. While it might be tempting to draw these comparisons while you and some friends are discussing the local culture, avoid doing this at all costs!

Prepare work permit requirements beforehand

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This is highly important. If you’re being shipped overseas by your current employer, they’ll likely be sure to take care of this for you, but if you plan to look for work after arriving in your country of choice, it’s imperative you research the documents needed to apply for a work permit. Moreover, ensure you pay particular attention to the certification requirements, because some countries require a seal from the U.S. Department of States, something unobtainable when you’re already overseas.

Join expat social media groups

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Navigating language barriers is tough, which is why it’s always helpful to get information from people who speak your language and have already gone through the process you’re about to go through. These helpful individuals are just a Facebook, or Google, search away!

Get an affordable international plan

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Illustration – Shutterstock | carballo

Most carriers across the United States have some type of international plan. While it is recommended to get a local sim card when you arrive, it’s doubly recommended to always have a backup phone in case your primary gets lost or stolen. It may seem expensive at first, but all it takes is one bad experience for the investment to pay for itself.

Download a language-learning app

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Google translate has come a long way and will often get you through most encounters if you don’t speak the local language. However, while improved, most translation apps still have a long way to go. With that in mind, check out some language-learning services. One particularly impressive, and free, one is Duolingo—it’s fun, takes only a few minutes per day, and it’s free.

Pack some Pepto-Bismol

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Illustration – Shutterstock | Carlos Yudica

Travelers’ diarrhea is a genuine problem, and it can lead to more missed work than you’d prefer. Stock up on some Pepto Bismol and be sure always to eat safely if you have to wake up for work the next morning.

Prepare prescriptions

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Illustration – Shutterstock | David Smart

Prescription laws across the world are different. You might be able to find the medications you need over the counter, while others will require a visit to an international hospital’s pharmacy. Whatever the case, let your doctor know what’s going on and have him write you some prescriptions for when you land. And, as always, be sure you purchase your medications from a reputable source. There are countless pharmacies across the world that stock fake medication, so always be on the lookout and check with your local expat group before hunting for your prescription.

Download Taxi apps

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In most parts of the world, if a taxi driver can sniff you out as a westerner, you might have to pay the foreigner tax, and paying for those added fees is the worst. For this reason, things that have a price tag attached are always welcome, be it a store or taxi. Uber is in a surprising number of countries, but if you’re traveling through certain parts of Southeastern Asia, you might be better off using the Grab app. Again, always do your homework and see what the local expats are saying.

Have a plan for sending cash to yourself

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Depending on the country you’re visiting, there might be some strict laws on how you can send or receive money, but there are a plethora of scenarios that could result in your debit card becoming lost or inactive while traveling abroad. For those reasons, it’s always wise to double-check on your options for receiving money when going abroad. Western Union, Money Gram, or Xoom are all great options for getting cash in a bind. They’ll likely require you to verify your first transfer, but the hassle is entirely worth it.