15 Tips for Moving Abroad Alone
Moving abroad is an exciting adventure! A new destination, new food, new people, new experiences; it’s going to be incredible! With only yourself to rely on, the opportunities and adventures are endless. Don’t wait for others to potentially join you, if the time is right for you, you can make the move yourself!
How Do I Move Abroad Alone?
Moving abroad alone is just as incredible (and stressful) as moving with others but will come with additional challenges. To help make your move smoother it’s all about preparation before you go. Be sure to research as much as you can and get first-hand accounts of those who already live there—we’ll let you know where to get these first-hand accounts in our tips below—this information will be invaluable.
When moving abroad alone it’s important to keep an open mind, get comfortable being on your own, visit your new country before actually moving there and learn some basics of the language if it’s different from your home country. There are so many incredible places in the world to move to but part of the research you need to do is to ensure that you choose a country and city/town that is just right for you, your needs, lifestyle preferences and priorities. Do you prefer a bustling city or a seaside time or rural village? Do you want to be near a major airport? Are you open to learning a new language?
In addition to choosing the right place for you, a big hurdle to moving abroad is getting all your paperwork in order. To move abroad you’ll need permission from your destination country in the form a of a visa and to get that you’ll need to research the country’s official embassy website and review the requirements so you can apply.
The process can be cumbersome so if you don’t feel confident to do it yourself, enlist the help of an immigration lawyer. They can help clarify anything you need. For more information on you need to take care of before you can move check out our article on the 12 Things You Need to Do Before You Go!
Is Moving Abroad Alone Hard?
I’m not going to sugarcoat things…moving abroad is hard. But we can do hard things, right? And despite it being hard, it’s well within your reach.
It takes a lot of courage, confidence, self-awareness, and determination to move abroad alone. If it was easy, more people would do it. What is most taxing is that there are so many decision to make and when you’re doing it along, all those decisions fall on you. You alone have to research visa processes, places to live, network with others, what to do with your cell phone and so many other macro + micro decisions.
However, with the right preparation and mindset, you will confidently begin this journey because you are resilient…and incredible experiences and opportunities lie ahead. Plenty of other people have moved abroad on their own and you can too!
15 Tips for moving abroad alone
1. Visit your destination before moving
Get to know your new country by visiting first! You may have an idea in your head of what your dream country is like and then upon arrival, it turns out to be the exact opposite. Explore your potential new home, try to stay for as long as you can on a tourist visa (in many countries that might be up to 90 days for U.S. citizens) and decide if you want to move forward with the moving process.
2. Join expat groups online before moving
There are numerous online expat communities you can join before your move to connect with people who are living abroad (Facebook and Instagram especially). For example, join groups such as X country expats, X country U.S. expats, X country immigration/residency, etc. If you want, you can be more specific and join groups for different cities as well. There is a ton of information in these groups from people who have already jumped through all the hoops and hurdles that you’re about to experience.
3. Prepare all needed documents
You will need to prepare what seems like an endless amount of documents for your move abroad. Take all original documents with you to immigration appointments and of course with you when you make your move. Be sure to store them in a safe place, one that you will remember.
Make photocopies of all important documents like your passport, medical records, and financial records. A pro tip is to have a copy of all your documents backed up on Google drive or an external hard drive in the case that you lose the original or hardcopy.
When gathering all the documents for your visa application you’ll need to consult the Embassy or Consulate websites which can be confusing; if you feel lost during this process: 1. You’re not alone and 2. Tap into those expat groups to ask questions 3. Reach out to an immigration lawyer to clarify any doubts you have.
4. Learn basics of the language
If the language of the country you’re moving to is different from what you speak, it’s time to get some studying in. That’s not to say you need to be fluent, but it’s helpful to learn some basics so you can simply communicate when you arrive. Study up on letters, numbers, time, directions, and how to ask simple questions. This will go a long way in the beginning and will help you not feel not so overwhelmed. Check out these extra tips on learning a language abroad.
5. Research the best places to live in the city
Expat groups are a great place to learn about the best areas to relocate. Write a post in one of these online groups to get the insight and opinions from others who are familiar with, or living in those areas.
It’s a great idea to visit your city of choice beforehand and spend as much time as you can there to get a feel of the city and different neighborhoods. On your visit, keep track of which neighborhood you really enjoyed and could see yourself living in. Depending on your budget, desire for central accessibility, and work location, some neighborhoods are better suited for you than others. Take the time to walk around and also thoroughly research specific spots you would like to live.
6. Pack only what you can carry
A good rule of thumb when moving alone is to keep it light! Since you won’t have assistance, only bring items that you can physically carry, for example, two suitcases and two backpacks. You really don’t need as much as you think, so pack essentials and a few sentimental items at most. There are few things worse in life than carrying more than you can handle, especially along cobblestone streets or up three flights of stairs. If you need a little help, these are our 25 essential packing tips for moving abroad.
7. Keep an open mind
Remember that visiting a country and living there are two different experiences. Many time we get caught up in the romance of a place when we’re there for a limited amount of time, however, when you move abroad not only will you get to experience all the great things about your new city but you’ll also face the differences and challenges. Don’t let this deter you, it’s just part of the journey.
Be sure to open yourself up to new experiences and new people and remind yourself that you’re in a new atmosphere. Everything may feel overwhelming at first but it’s very important to stay open minded and to be kind to yourself.
8. Go to free events around the city
You’re going to want to explore your new city and while all the sightseeing can add up, it doesn’t have to. There are tons of free (or cheap) activities to do everywhere such as a free city walking tour, free entry days a the museum, or free food tasting at local markets. This will not only help with your budget, but also help you start establishing connections in a pressure free environment.
Find events through MeetUp.com, Eventbrite, or CitySocializer. Tap into those expat groups too that I mentioned to see what’s on in your new city.
9. Connect with expats in your new city
You’ve joined expat groups, searched around, and maybe asked some questions, now it’s time to connect in person! Don’t be shy; create a post saying that you’d love to meet in person for a coffee and a chat and voila you’re on your way to meeting new people to share experiences with. Sign up for language classes or join group events on the apps previously listed to connect with other like minded people. Expat groups are some of the fastest ways to connect with others!
10. Become comfortable being alone
Moving abroad alone will give you a lot of time to yourself. If you’re not used to spending time on your own, now’s the time to start! When moving abroad, making friends takes time, especially deep friendships with people you want to spend consistent time with, so be patient, and enjoy this alone time as you build your new life.
11. Prioritize making friends
We always need to feel like we have a sense of community no matter where we are in the world. Prioritize putting yourself out there and trying to make friends. If you consider yourself more of an introvert, that’s ok! Start out slow, meetups, language exchanges and group tours are a great way to meet people without pressure.
Making friends as an adult requires more work—and even more so if you’re doing it in another language—so when you meet people who seem like a good friend match, don’t be shy, ask for their contact info, social media, etc. Be proactive and start to establish a community to help you feel more at home.
12. Join in on local customs and celebrations
Research local customs, celebrations, city holidays, and national holidays and plan some fun activities around them! Join in on the local fun with friends or go traveling on a holiday. Get into the routine of celebrating when and how the locals do.
13. Stay connected with friends and family back home
When moving abroad alone, your family and friends will be a huge part of your support system. It’s important to stay in touch with them, especially in the beginning when you may feel at your loneliest. Stay in touch via social media, text, phone calls and video calls. If there is a big time zone difference, schedule times that work best for everyone so you can stay connected. Continue to be involved your friend’s and family’s lives to maintain those bonds and keep them up-to-date so they can stay involved in yours.
14. Prepare for things to go wrong
Hope for the best, but prepare for the worst, right? Not everything will go to plan nor will it be sunshine and rainbows abroad. Unexpected expenses, theft, injuries, broken electronics, etc. Anything is possible! So be prepared. Along with backing up important documents, make sure to back up your login information, passwords, photos, videos, and anything else you deem valuable in case of loss or theft. Have some extra cash stored away at all times for emergencies and make copies of any house keys you may want to give to a friend or neighbor in the case you lock yourself out of the house.
15. Say “Yes” to just about everything
You’re on a new exciting adventure, be open to whatever comes your way! So that means, no matter the question (of course there are exceptions), the answer is YES! Someone wants to get coffee with you? Yes, when and where. Get asked out on a date? Yes, why not. Asked to go traveling for a weekend with some new girlfriends you just made? Yes, let’s go!
Any chance for fun, new experiences is a new opportunity to connect and make some great memories, so dive right in.
The Benefits of Moving Abroad Alone
There are so many benefits to move abroad alone! You’ll gain immeasurable independence, self-confidence, self-awareness and recognize your strengths.
Your capability to overcome new challenges will be evident, you’ll gain new life skills, have a new perspective on life, and expand your global mindset. You may even learn a new language along the way! All of these personal gains can be a benefit to use towards professional opportunities as well. We can’t forget that one of the best aspects of moving abroad alone is making new friends from all around the world.
Move abroad alone
Taking the leap to move abroad alone takes immense courage. It’s no easy feat! You’ll experience the hardships of isolation and loneliness, especially in the beginning but this will subside if you put these tips into action.
Moving abroad is all about consciously stepping out of your comfort zone so you can continue to grow, gain a greater sense of yourself, and gather incredible experiences. You’ll face many trials but it does come with a sweet reward. Remember, you got this!