Moving abroad to live and work may be great for your career, but it’s still a very big step to take for most of us.

Taking the plunge and relocating overseas is a courageous act, regardless of its increasing popularity. Especially for those of us who have never lived abroad before.

After the decision is made, it’s easy to get caught up in all the excitement (and nerves) that come with such a momentous act.

But there’s still the little matter of planning to think about.

Moving abroad has got a whole lot easier in recent decades, with the growth of the internet and proliferation of convenient digital technologies and tools, as well as the relentless march of English as the global lingua franca. Nevertheless, there are plenty of important practicalities and necessities to consider before you leave.

To make it easier for you, we’ve put together an 8-point checklist for relocating to a new country with ease.

1/ Visas & work permits

The fundamental issue to consider before moving abroad is your legal status. This essentially comes down to what citizenship you will be entering the country with, and the relationship between that country and the one you are moving to.

While citizens of certain countries will need to seek work permits or specific visas in order to work legally (e.g. those moving to the EU from countries in the Americas or Asia), others will already have the right to work (e.g. those moving within the EU on an EU passport).

Know your rights before you travel. (And, ideally, before you accept a job offer).

Tips before you go

  • Check out the specific agreement between your home country and the one you’re moving to on an official government website
  • Carefully follow the requirements and regulations stipulated on your visa or work permit
  • 2/ Social security number

    In some countries you will be expected to obtain a social security number, or to register your residence officially (whether or not you receive a specific number or ID card).

    This may be essential for accessing public services such as healthcare, and may be legally required for work.

    Be sure to register your move with the relevant authorities. (You may be able to do this ahead of time).

    Tips before you go

    • Declare your intention to relocate with your home country’s immigration authority
  • Register your arrival in a new country with the relevant immigration authority in advance of your first day at work
  • Ensure you have all the necessary documentation before you travel
  • 3/ Housing

    With more and more people living and working abroad, finding accommodation overseas has become somewhat easier to deal with.

    Still, every country (and even city) has it own system and culture to get your head around. Many of the biggest draws for expats are cities with burgeoning populations and housing shortages.

    As a foreigner, you are always going to be an easy target for charlatans. So take care and be on the lookout for scams.

    For short term solutions, Airbnb (and other rental sites) can be useful. To keep costs manageable, find the most popular and reliable sources for rentals and try to sort something out before you arrive.

    Tips before you go

    • Be careful to avoid scams and untrustworthy landlords
  • Ask your new employer to offer assistance with finding accommodation
  • Identify the most trustworthy and popular sources for local rentals
  • 4/ Healthcare

    Healthcare may be something you take for granted in your home country, but it is a very important issue to take seriously when moving overseas.

    Whether or not you’re covered will depend on your rights as a worker in the new country. And having access to healthcare may rely on you being registered successfully as a legal resident.

    If you are only moving abroad for a short time, pre-existing health or travel insurance may be a realistic option to cover you in case of illness or accident. Your home country may also have a system in place to cover expats.

    Whatever you do, read the small print of your coverage or the relevant laws.

    Tips before you go

    • Register with a local doctor at the earliest opportunity
  • Check the healthcare coverage you are entitled to with your home country’s immigration office
  • 5/ Language

    In this day and age, English will take you a long way. But knowledge of English varies widely, even within Europe.

    While English is spoken fluently by many in northern European countries like the Netherlands or Sweden, in places like Spain, France, and even Germany English may not be enough for you to get by (especially outside the big cities).

    The most important thing is proficiency in the language you’ll be working in, not just for your performance on the job, but also for getting to know your new colleagues.

    Tips before you go

    • Start brushing up on your language skills well in advance of leaving
  • Read our guide to what language skills you need for working abroad
  • 6/ Banking and tax

    Sorting out your finances is not the most exciting aspect of planning a big move abroad. But ensuring you have a bank account to get paid into will certainly prove useful!

    Registering for a bank account may require you to jump through a few hoops, so be sure to bring ID and documents proving that you have an address in the country, have legal residence there, and that you are who you say you are. (These stipulations may not always be clearly stated on local banks’ websites, so always come prepared).

    Do your research. There may be certain banks or account types that are recommended to expats.

    As for tax, the local authority will be very happy to take it, but may not be so keen to help you ensure you’re paying the right amount. Make sure the tax office has correct details for you before you start paying income tax.

    Tips before you go

    • Open a local bank account as soon as possible
  • Register with the tax authority and ensure they have correct details for your employment
  • 7/ Telephone

    Despite the omnipresence of smartphones in our lives, telephones are not as important as they used to be for expats.

    Once upon a time, regular phone calls and the occasional letter were all the contact expats had with their family and friends back home. Nowadays, Skype and other messaging services have rendered traditional phone calls almost a thing of the past.

    However, you will still want a proper telephone you can use in the new country. It may appear unprofessional if you can only make calls while connected to wifi. A registered phone number may also be useful (or, in fact, necessary) for making your day-to-day a little easier.

    Tips before you go

    • Bring any documentation with you that you might need to take out a phone contract
  • Ask your new employer if they offer company phones, or can offer assistance on obtaining a phone contract
  • 8. Transport

    Your daily commute will most likely be a big part of life in your new city. You may want to take this into consideration when choosing where to live (see point 3, ‘Housing’), depending on whether you would prefer to drive or rely on public transport.

    If you’re lucky, you may be able to simply walk or cycle from your accommodation to your workplace.

    If you know in advance how you will need to travel to work, and for how long, you might be able to benefit from a travel pass or similar.

    Tips before you go

    • Plot out your commute ahead of time and find the most economical way to travel
  • Choose a convenient place to live which suits both your commute to work and your social life