How to Move to Another Country From the U.S.: 9 Top Tips

How to move to another country: couple unpacking their things in their new home

Whether you want to live in Portugal for the short term or you’re planning a permanent move away from North America, you can learn how to move to another country with a little advanced planning. From finding a job to learning a new language, this checklist will help you prepare for moving overseas.

International relocation is a big decision, and the process will differ based on where you’re moving to. Follow these tips before and after your move to relocate with less hassle.

How to move to another country: 4 tips before moving

When it comes to moving to another country, preparing upfront will save you time and hassle later.

1. Make sure your new country fits your needs

If you’re thinking of an international move, you probably already know where you’d like to live. But dreams don’t always match reality. Do some research to make sure the country you’ve chosen is the right fit for you.

Follow these steps to assess the country’s lifestyle and costs in relation to your needs:

  • Speak to people who live there: Do you know someone in your desired country? Ask them what they like and dislike about living there. Alternatively, expat forums or social media groups can be excellent sources of intel.
  • Research the lifestyle: A particular destination might be popular with tourists, but what is the lifestyle like for locals?
  • Travel to the country as a tourist: If possible, visit a country before you move there. Spending several weeks in a different country can help you learn the nuances of what it’s like to actually live there.
  • Calculate the cost of living: How much money do you need to live comfortably in a new country? Knowing the cost of living includes calculating necessities like food, housing, transportation, and healthcare.
  • Know your transportation options: Do you need a car or scooter to get around your new city? Or is public transportation reliable and cheap? This can affect how much you need to save before your move.

2. Understand visa requirements

If you’re planning to stay longer than a few weeks or months, you’ll likely need a visa to remain in your new country. Every country has different requirements for residency, and these are distinct from visas for travelers. For example, Canada’s work visa options differ greatly from Spain’s combined work and residence visa.

Getting a visa can take a while, so allow plenty of time before your moving date to sorting out your visa. Generally, it’s easier to get shorter-term visas than it is to get long-term visas or permanent resident status. In some cases, you may work on the permanent residency only after living in the country for a specified period of time.

Some of the most common visa options are:

  • Work visas: Find a job in your new country that will sponsor your visa application. This does mean you need to keep your job, or you could lose your visa.
  • Student visas: Some countries will grant visas to foreigners who pursue an education in their country. You’ll likely need to meet enrollment requirements to maintain your visa.
  • Freelance visas: If you don’t plan on relocating permanently, some countries offer freelance visas. Digital nomads frequently use this option to find short-term visas while they travel the world.

As mentioned, you could travel first on a tourist visa. If you’re a U.S. citizen, your passport will likely be enough to travel abroad, although some countries may require travel authorization for U.S. visitors.

3. Plan for culture shock

Group of friends happily talking outdoors

Culture shock can cause feelings of isolation, loneliness, and regret. It can come as a surprise if you consider yourself a seasoned traveler.

Immersing yourself in the new culture before your move can help mitigate this. Look into:

  • Slang
  • Etiquette
  • Local holidays
  • Popular TV shows or books
  • Local laws

As you learn how to move to another country, it’s easy to become distracted by visa applications, finances, or other logistics. But it’s just as important to understand what daily life will be like in your new home, so you know what to expect.

4. Save for your move

Even if you’re moving to a country with a low cost of living, you will need financial resources to relocate. International moves often come with expenses such as:

  • Hiring a mover
  • Buying plane tickets and hotel rooms
  • Paying visa or legal fees
  • Making a deposit on a home or apartment

If you’re not sure of your employment situation, calculate your expected costs and save, save, save in anticipation.

How to move to another country: 5 tips for after moving

You planned for your new life and made the move, but there’s still some work left to do. Follow these five tips after your move to help make it a smooth transition.

1. Learn the local language

Person giving another person instructions

Do you speak the language of the foreign country where you want to live? Language barriers aren’t a deal-breaker, but they can prevent you from getting into school, finding a job, or making friends.

You might find that many people in your new country speak multiple languages, and English is a popular second language around the globe. Depending on where you move, you may or may not need to learn a second language right away.

But if you do need to learn a new language, start by learning basic phrases that will help you in your day-to-day life. You can also use tools like Google Translate on your cellphone if you have difficulty communicating.

2. Plan for moving money across borders

You might be eager to start over in your new country, but it’s often best to keep your banking in your country of origin. That’s because it can take time to set up a bank account in a new locale. If you need a convenient option for international money transfers during and after your move, the Remitly app makes the process fast and easy.

Do you plan to use your credit card? Check into international fees on credit card purchases.

3. Make new friends

Friends can minimize feelings of loneliness if you move to a new country by yourself. Try to meet new friends at work, through clubs or classes, and in your neighborhood.

Expat communities are also great places to make friends. Connect with other people who moved from your home country to exchange stories, speak in your native tongue, and connect over your shared background. Fellow expats can connect you with job opportunities, help you learn the culture, and encourage you to explore your new home.

4. Connect with family members

New friends are important, but your family and friends back home matter too. If you don’t have phone service in your new country yet, you can stay in touch through Wi-Fi apps like Skype.

If you do want to get your own phone, opt for an unlocked device that you can use internationally. Alternatively, check with your U.S. phone provider about their rates and deals for international usage.

5. Find housing

How to move to another country: couple carrying boxes into their new home

Some immigrants live in hotels for a few months while they look for an apartment or house, but that can be expensive.

Longer-term stays through services like Airbnb can be more affordable. Some property owners will even allow you to book a long-term stay for up to a year.

Work with a real estate agent or apartment finder service to search for a more permanent place to live. These services can help you find a property that fits your budget and personal preferences.

But if you know someone locally, check with them first. They can tell you if a property is a good deal or if there’s anything you need to be wary of.

Move to another country with less hassle

Whether you’re moving to find better financial opportunities or you just want to start over somewhere new, following these steps will help you make the most of your big move.

If you need to send money to friends and family in your home country or move money from your U.S. bank account to a foreign account, try Remitly. Our app makes it easy to send international money transfers to your loved ones or to yourself. Download the app today, and we’ll help you get started.

Further reading