Moving Abroad: What to do first?

Yes, there is a lot to sort out. It can be overwhelming. Don’t overestimate the task ahead! Here are some key points about the most important things that need to be understood and sorted out very quickly and initially:

Visas

You cannot move to another country without a visa unless you have the nationality of that country so you need to get busy researching about different visas and possibilities. Different countries and visas will have restrictions so make sure you research well to avoid surprises. A Business Sponsored visa (the one we are on) is a great way to get into a country without long delays but you have to get a job in the country prior to moving and the employer has to prove that you are the best person for the job.

Health system

The health of your family is very important and should there be illness in the family, you want to be fully covered to avoid expensive charges. As part of our visa, we had to prove we had purchase private health insurance. Different countries will have different rules on using health services so it is important to research this further.

Qualifications

For my husband, his qualifications were easily transferable as he was the main person being offered employment, but for me the process is a little more tricky than this. I initially was particularly worried about my qualifications being transferred to the Australian system. I had already converted my qualifications from Quebec to an UK system so that I could complete a chartered psychologist course. I feel it has already been a very long process to get there. This process is not complete, I am waiting for some news. In the meantime, I have other projects…

It’s very important that you research carefully any transfers of qualifications to avoid surprises. Some countries do not easily allow conversion of qualifications, some other countries are more lenient and have cross country agreements.

The language in which you study can also have a big impact on the conversion of your qualifications as you may be required to do a native language test prior to practice in your field of your work.

Right to education and work

We were aware that not all countries allow a spouse to work on a Business Sponsored visa so we felt it was very important to clarify this early on. We had decided that it was crucial for me to be able to work as I had worked so hard to gain my qualifications. At this point, we needed to know restrictions about the visa, otherwise it would have aborted the move completely. We were also worried about access to education now and a few years later for the children. We were reassured that children would be entitled to education even though they are not Australian citizen.

Check any visa restrictions as early as possible as it can a huge impact on your decision to move. It is also important to envisage what may happen in a few years time, for example, where will the kids be at in terms of their education in 4 years time, as it can also have an impact on your decision. Similarly, a spouse may feel that working is not an issue at present because it is better to be at home with the children, for whatever reasons, but overtime, being in a different country and wanting to realise some specific professional goals may become an issue if the spouse cannot work. A decision to make such a big move could be initially a brilliant decision, but then becomes a nightmare because of different factors due to visa restrictions and educational opportunities.

Reevaluate life and professional goals

If you are thinking about such a big move, it may be a good time to think about what’s working well and what else you may want from your life. By reevaluating life and professional goals, it may help focus your thoughts and ideas about the move on what matters most to you. The Big Five Dreams for Life workshop really helped me think about it (http://www.bigfiveforlife.com; http://www.toutdego.ca). I was not necessarily in a place where I was reconsidering life options as I felt happy in my life, but I realised that it could be even better. It allowed me to spontaneously think about some next steps in my life and the purpose behind such a big move. It gave me sense of some future projects and put some realistic objectives for some ideas which I felt were unattainable.

Financial matters

Will you be better off living in a different country after taxes, extra costs, house prices, etc.? This could have huge implications on making the move a positive or very negative experience. Think about initial costs as well, costs of living, and hidden costs. In Australia, there are many hidden costs in schools. For example, parents pay for hiring a netbook, stationary, books and different expeditions.

Your Who’s

Do you know someone who lives in the country you are going to? Do you know a friend of a friend who may be able to put you in touch? You cannot anticipate how a little bit of advice or encouragement can go a long way. What about social media sites and blogs, you can make connections that way too…

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