Are you fed up with the same old routine and ready for a total change of scenery?
Maybe you’ve been dreaming of sipping espresso in a quaint Parisian café or exploring the temples of Thailand.
Or simply packing up and relocating to the nearest European country that could one day grant you citizenship.
I’m here to guide you on how to move to another country in 10 easy steps. Here they are in a nutshell:
- Know your goals
- Figure out your income
- Check the immigration requirements
- Research taxes in your new country
- Start learning the language
- Declutter your stuff (or prep it for shipping)
- Find tenants for your property (or get out of your lease)
- Renew your personal documents
- Find the right travel insurance
- Get a virtual mailbox service
By the time you finish this article, I hope the prospect of making a big move will no longer seem so daunting.
Let’s discover how to move to another country in 10 surprisingly straightforward steps!
How to Move to Another Country in 10 EASY Steps
#1. Know your goals
The first step in moving to another country is figuring out what you want from it.
Do you want an exciting cultural or linguistic experience? Then choose a country where the culture and language appeal to you.
Do you want to immerse yourself somewhere totally alien? Then choose a country where the culture is far different from your own.
Do you want to make a lot of money? Choose a place like Dubai, where there’s high pay and no tax. Or choose somewhere with a low cost of living in relation to your European or US salary.
Perhaps you want to seek second citizenship? Then make sure you choose a country where naturalization is manageable.
No matter what you choose, things will fall into place more easily once you’ve gotten clear on your goals for moving.
#2. Figure out your income
The next important step in the process of how to move to another country is figuring out how you’ll support yourself.
For some, having existing remote work is the key to an easy move to many countries. The rise of digital nomad visas has made it even more straightforward. You can also check out these remote job boards for a whole range of available opportunities.
if you don’t work remotely or have independent income, then you’ll likely need to find a job in your target country. Start planning this a long way in advance, because it can be quite a challenge.
A lot will depend on your current situation. For example, if you work for a multinational company in your home country, you could ask for a transfer to another office in your target country.
If you’re a native English speaker, then English teaching jobs are plentiful in many countries. In fact, my first ever job abroad was as an English teacher in the south of China.
Bear in mind that many countries will need you to have a bachelor’s degree and an ESL teaching certificate, such as the CELTA.
#3. Check the immigration requirements
So now you’ve narrowed down your target country. The next step is to check the immigration requirements for you to live and work there, as visa requirements around the world will vary.
The exact visa you’ll need for any country will depend on your original citizenship, and whether you hold any additional citizenships that might put you in a better position.
For example, let’s say you’re a dual citizen of the US and Germany, and you want to move to Portugal. In that situation, it’s far better to move to Portugal using your German passport instead of your US one.
Why? Because German citizens are part of the EU and hence they get preferential immigration treatment around Europe. Basically, EU citizens can live and work freely anywhere else in the Eurozone without a visa.
#4. Research taxes in your new country
International taxes isn’t the most fun or exciting subject, but it’s one of the most important.
Moving to another country long-term is likely to have tax implications for you. It’s vital to be fully aware of these before going ahead with your move.
For example, in most European countries, applying for residency and staying over 183 days in-country will automatically make you tax resident there. That’s called residence-based taxation.
Several countries – most notably Portugal with its NHR program – have special tax treatment for new residents. Depending on your situation, you may end up paying a preferential rate of tax.
On the other hand, some countries have totally different rules, like territorial taxation (Panama, Paraguay or Thailand), or even no income tax at all (e.g. Qatar).
You should always consult a local tax advisor in your new country, preferably before applying for residency.
And if you’re a US citizen, you’ll still need to file an annual tax return to the IRS. We recommend consulting a US tax advisor to see if you can benefit from any exemptions on your foreign income.
#5. Start learning the language
Knowing the language of your host country will enrich your experience and help you better understand the local culture – even if you plan to live in an expat bubble and speak English all the time.
Having language skills makes daily tasks easier, from ordering food to asking for directions. You’ll be able to connect with locals, make new friends, and feel more integrated into your new community. Plus, it shows respect for the country and its people.
My quick tips for learning a new language:
- Start with the basics: Learn the most common words and phrases first, such as greetings, numbers, and common questions. This will help you communicate in everyday situations and build confidence.
- Practice, practice, practice: Use every opportunity to practice speaking the language, even if you make mistakes. Speak with locals (iTalki’s online tutors are great for this), join language exchange programs, or take a class in person.
- Immerse yourself: Surround yourself with the language as much as possible. Watch TV shows, movies and the news in the local language, listen to music, read books, or even change the language settings on your phone or computer.
Buying a phrase book in your target language is great for getting the basics nailed down. Pimsleur audio courses are also a big help. For example, I got a great start in Mandarin Chinese by listening to Pimsleur every day on my drive to work. Highly recommended.
#6. Declutter your stuff (or prep it for shipping)
Bringing too many possessions along can make your move more expensive and complicated.
Living in a foreign country often means adapting to smaller living spaces and different lifestyles, so it’s essential to prioritize what’s truly important to you.
Decluttering your possessions is also an opportunity to simplify your life and let go of things that no longer serve you. It can also be a cathartic process, allowing you to start your new life abroad with a fresh perspective and feeling lighter.
This is what I’d do to declutter before moving to another country:
- Start early: Begin decluttering at least a few months before your move to give yourself enough time to sort through everything.
- Be ruthless: Ask yourself if each item is truly necessary or brings you joy. If not, donate, sell, or recycle it.
- Organize and categorize: Separate your belongings into categories, such as clothes, books, and electronics, to make the process more manageable.
#7. Find tenants for your property (or get out of your lease)
If you’re a homeowner, you should make a plan for dealing with your property when you move to another country. If you’re planning a long-term or permanent move abroad, then selling your property might be the best way forward.
In some cases, you may want to rent it out instead. You can do this with long-term tenants, or on a shorter term basis using a platform such as Airbnb or Flatio.
If you’re going for the short term rentals option, then I’d recommend hiring a property management service to handle all the complexities while you’re living abroad.
For those with tenancy agreements, check your contract to see how much notice you need to give before moving out. If you have a break clause, now might be a great time to use it.
#8. Renew your personal documents
Make sure your passport has plenty of months left on it before planning a move abroad. You’ll need at least six months left on it to be eligible for most residency visas. But I’d stay on the safe side and renew it early to avoid the hassles of renewing from another country.
Your driving licence is another important thing to renew before moving abroad.
Once you become resident in another country, you may need to exchange your old licence for a local one within a certain number of days.
Typically, this starts from the date when you officially become resident. For example, it’s 90 days in Portugal.
If your driver’s licence expires during this window, before you’ve had chance to exchange it, you may have to retake your driving test in your new country. Be aware of this risk, and do the necessary research for your target country before moving.
When renewing your bank cards and credit cards, you may find your home bank will only send new ones by post to your address on file back home.
That’s why it’s worth trying to renew as many as possible before you move to abroad, especially if they’re due to expire soon.
In the worst case scenario, you may be able to (temporarily) switch your home country banking address to the home of a friend or family member. They can then receive and forward important mail for you, including any new bank cards.
When you get residency and an address in your new country, you’ll be able to open a new bank account there.
Wise’s free cross-border account is an essential part of your moving abroad toolkit. It offers fast money transfers at excellent exchange rates. You can also use your Wise account to send and receive money “like a local” in your new country.
#9. Find the right travel insurance
Having international travel insurance is important when moving to another country. In fact, many residency visas require travel insurance as part of the application, such as when moving to a European country.
Countries with state healthcare will usually allow you to access it once you have your official residence permit.
But it’s critical to check the exact requirements for your target country. Some countries don’t have state healthcare systems at all. Or they have them but the quality isn’t good.
In those cases, you’ll need to get a long-term health insurance policy once you arrive in-country. Make sure your travel insurance covers you until that point.
#10. Get a virtual mailbox service
Even after you’ve moved to another country, you may need to receive some physical mail from organizations and services in your home country, like the student loans company, the IRS, HMRC, or similar.
To make sure you don’t miss anything important, you’ll need a way of receiving physical mail while you’re living abroad.
The best way to do this is by investing in a virtual mailbox service.
These are handy because they give you an address in your home country to use for receiving mail. Each letter then gets scanned and uploaded so you can easily read it online.
You could also ask a helpful relative or friend to receive your physical mail while you’re away, but this might not work so well for long-term moves abroad.
Moving to another country is a major step that can truly revolutionize your life.
But, as with most big life changes, you’ll have lots of things to juggle along the journey.
In this article, I’ve walked you through 10 essential tips on how to move to another country with ease.
Start by narrowing down your target country based on the type of residency routes it offers (and whether you’re eligible).
The next most important factor is figuring out how you’re going to support yourself financially while living there. After that, it comes down to your level of comfort in that country.
Lastly, I strongly recommend visiting your target country first before launching into your big move.