Here’s How I Moved to 7 Countries in 7 Years
As I have moved to my 7th country to date, I thought I’d throw a guide on how to move anywhere in the world. While this perspective sounds daunting, it actually is not.
In this article, you’ll see which steps to take to easily move to a foreign country as effortlessly as possible.
To Go or Not to Go
“I have always wanted to move to a new country…should I do it now? Oh should I find a job first?”. This question is one of the most important questions you should ask yourself when you want to move to a new country: will you be able to find a job where you’re going?
Your chances to find a job depend on the languages you speak, the country you choose to move to, and on your qualifications. With English, some experience, and a university diploma, I believe you should be able to find a job in pretty much any country that sees a yearly GDP increase of at least 1% and an unemployment rate below 10%.
However, you don’t have to find a brand new job to move to a new country. You can ask your employer to go remote or to be reassigned if you work for a big company.
As to the question of whether you should find a job before or after you move, I’d tend to say that the universe rewards those that make bold moves and would therefore encourage you to look for jobs on-site (make sure your visa and finances enable you to do that).
This will make things easier and smoother for you.
First of all, you get a chance to taste the country before committing to move there in the longer term. Second of all, even though most interviews will now be conducted with Skype, you expose yourself to more chances to meet people that could help you out with your job search.
Finally, once rid of all obligations in your home country, you’ll be able to fully dedicate yourself to building your new life. Indeed, while a job is important, friends and accommodation are important too. If you’re certain you want to move, then wait no longer and move.
The rest will follow.
I Quit My Job and Bought My Ticket – What Now?
Congratulations! First resign all subscriptions you contracted to save some money (phone, Spotify, Netflix, rental contracts). Now that your account will not be monthly credited as it was before, you need to live cheaply.
Sell all of your stuff, give them away, or put them in the basement of a relative (lol). You want to travel as light as possible.
The biggest secret to moving anywhere is that you don’t need much to survive. A laptop, a phone, an international banking card (Revolut or Transferwise) and some clothes are all that you need. The lighter you travel, the easier it is for you to move and settle somewhere.
Once you have decided what to take with you and what to leave, what to resign, and what to keep, book an Airbnb or a hostel for 10 days.
Why 10 days?
Because if the accommodation ends up to be lame, you don’t want to spend too much time there, and the only way to know is to actually go.
Similarly, if the accommodation is good, you want to have the time to extend your stay for a month at least, the minimum time it will take for you to find a job and a place to live.
How to Book Accommodations Like a Pro
For the first month, I wouldn’t embarrass myself with deposit and online lease. Book a hostel or an Airbnb. Avoid agency apartments. I personally use hostelbookers.com to book hostels, but any site will do.
Usually, it is cheaper to book directly on the hostel website, search engines being great to compare location and amenities.
Why not booking a long-term apartment directly? Because of one word: scams. You always want to visit the place and know who you are paying prior to taking a long-term rental, which makes Airbnb great! You know you can trust the platform.
Also, you don’t know how the city you want to move into will actually be once you reach it. You don’t know if you will find a job, friends, if you will like it or not…so don’t commit to what you don’t know.
You wouldn’t marry a stranger, would you?
Then signing a lease is the last thing you want to do.
Once you got your accommodation for 10 days and your ticket, you’re ready to fly and say yes to the adventure.
Get a Phone Number
The first thing you need to do when you arrive is to get a phone number. It will enable you to use the internet wherever you are and to easily contact locals for jobs and accommodations.
Ask your Airbnb host or at the hostel which provider is best and change your sim card.
The second thing you want to do is to feel the city and the people. Take a vacation the first week if your finances allow you to.
Go out, get drunk, see what it feels like to live in that place. I, for example, make sure the meat is not too expensive and that I can easily find some.
No butcheries means there is no way for me to move there.
One week should be sufficient for you to decide whether you love or hate the place.
The third thing you want to do then is to look for a job. I always found it easy to ask other internationals where they had found their jobs (locals can’t help you if their language is different than yours).
To meet them, head to Internations or Couchsurfing events, and ask people for help, something they’ll be happy to provide. I can tell you that Linkedin, Facebook, Stepstone, Glassdoor, etc are great websites to find English-speaking jobs.
Now, while it is good to be optimistic, you need to set up a job-finding deadline.
When I moved to Poland, I gave myself one month to find something, otherwise, I would move to Hungary. I found after three weeks and 30+ applications, which took probably 4-5 days to complete.
The time you give yourself to find something must be realistic. If you’re looking for a specific position, or if you have enough money to chill for a while, you can give yourself a bit more time.
I Found a Job!
Congratulations! The next step is to follow the HR guidelines of your new company. Ask them about social security numbers, visas, and health insurance, and make sure you got that setup.
The next step is to look for accommodation.
How to Look for Accommodation
While I have written an entire article regarding how to move into new accommodation, I’ll summarize the basics.
Facebook is usually plenty of rooms and studios to rent, but it is also full of other people looking for them, which makes competition and prices higher, so I tend to avoid using Facebook from now on.
The people that helped you with job searching websites will also help you with websites to find a room. You can also ask at the reception desk of your hostel.
It would be useless for me to list out the websites I have used because they were restricted to the countries I have moved to (Gumtree in Australia, Olx, and Opodo in Poland, Kamernet in the Netherlands, appartager in Belgium, etc).
The best way to find them without anyone’s help is to google “how to find a room in the city of your choice“. You can also search for information on websites dedicated to international students, or on Erasmus Facebook groups.
Finally, you can join expat Facebook groups or Couchsurfing and ask people there.
Once you found some rooms that seem nice, it is time to write landlords.
Create a customary message template that you’ll spam landlords with.
The important information to add are: where you are from, your age, if you smoke, if you have pets, why you came there, what you are looking for and for how long. I usually write this.
My name is Aurelien, nice to meet you! I saw your ad for a room/apartment to rent on xxxx.com and I’m interested. Could I come to visit?
Originally from Belgium, I have moved to X to work/study. I am X years old and I speak fluently English, X and X. I’m currently looking for a room for a period of minimum X months, with the possibility to extend. I have previously lived in X different cities/countries and have been living with roommates/by myself for X years now.
I don’t smoke, don’t have any pets, and am always friendly with the neighbors.
When would it be possible to come and visit?
My number is +69 420 777
I have used this message on three continents, and it never failed me.
The shorter the rental period is, the more difficult (and expensive) it will be.
If you can’t find anything short-term, you’re going to have to hack Airbnb.
The great thing about Airbnb is that you can speak with owners before paying them, which enables three hacks.
The first one is the following: if the place you want to rent at is full of Airbnbs, message all of the owners you could stay at, asking for discounts because “business is tight”.
The second hack is about renting long-term.
Airbnb is a bit like Uber, people that make money with it don’t do so for long because it is quickly tiring, and they always end up dealing with problematic people. You can take advantage of that.
First, find the cheapest room/apartment of their category by creating a trip where you search for accommodation for one week in two months for now.
That enables you to see all the Airbnbs available because no one books Airbnb two months prior to their trip. Once you found the cheapest accommodation, message the host and offer them to rent their place long-term at an honest price.
If they have been doing Airbnb for long, they will probably say yes. Renting out your place short term is quickly exhausting and many hosts will be happy to have someone staying 1-3 months.
Once they agree to negotiate with you, you’ll want to get out of the Airbnb chat. That is the third hack.
Obviously, Airbnb won’t let you contact the host without first booking, as they won’t make any commission otherwise. As such, email addresses and phone numbers are automatically blurred.
There is a way to go around that, however: write down your phone number to your host, in letters in a foreign language, and split by the word “and”.
For example, if I speak in English with my host, I would write down my phone number in Spanish, like this:
“plus, and seis and nueve and quatro and dos and zero and siete and siete and siete”.
All that the host has to do is to Google translate your phone number and boom, you can now communicate outside of Airbnb.
Alternatively, you can speak on Facebook.
How to Find Friends
Unfortunately, and this is the same everywhere, locals won’t have time for you, nor will be interested, unless you speak their language.
Your best bet is to go for international people that you can meet through Couchsurfing or Internations, although they tend to be rather socially awkward nowadays.
There are also surely some Facebook groups with internationals in the city you’re going to.
Alternatively, you can meet people from your own country, but that is quite sad to do so in a foreign country. Finally, your last bet is dating apps.
People (usually girls) use Tinder more and more often to find friends. Bumble has a dedicated function to find friends, which is great for girls as they can find other girls.
You can also join activity groups: from running to yoga, to art enjoyment, meetup.com provides people the chance to meet other like-minded people.
Once again people using these websites tend to be quite socially awkward, but you just need to find one normal person that can introduce you to their group of friends.
You can also take language classes.
Finally, you’ll have your roommates, if you decide to take some, and your new colleagues.
The Bottom Line
“Wait, is that it?” Pretty much, yeah.
All you need to safely move somewhere else is a job, an apartment, and friends. The Internet has made it very, very, very, very easy to find them if you know how to do so.
The only potential problems I’d see you having would be legal, such as visa, or cultural, such as the language barrier.
Neither are unsolvable.
You might say that after having written on the “sad reality of internationals“, it is quite hypocritical of me to explain to people how to move to foreign countries easily.
I still think experiences abroad are great, even if to reinstate what I have said before, it’s not ALL fun and game.
Hopefully, this guide will make it as easy as possible for you to move to a new country.