Destinations - 14 min read

How to Move to Another Country (Steps to Prepare & Legal Requirements)

Town and Tourist

Town and Tourist, Updated May 16, 2023

Moving to another country can afford you new opportunities and improve your quality of life in many cases. It can feel like an impossible feat when you sift through the massive checklist of things you need to do. Because of that, many people understandably struggle with how to move to another country.

Save up $5,000 as a single person or up to $20,000 before you move to another country if you have a family. Purchase travel insurance to protect your belongings and cover flight refunds when you move abroad. Set up a job, bank account, and new primary care physician when you move to another country so that you are all set.

It is also helpful to familiarize yourself with the culture and language of the new country that you move to. Research visas and family reunification programs before you move to another country to get as much help as possible. Follow along as we take a deep dive into how to move to another country and highlight the important steps.

What are the Steps to Move Abroad?

You need to organize your finances and find a home before you move abroad. It helps to have a job lined up before you move abroad, but that isn’t always possible. Moving to another country can be an intimidating and stressful project if you aren’t prepared.

Everything from finding a new doctor to setting up a new bank account will make your move easier. The process doesn’t need to be difficult as long as you have enough money saved up. Let’s take a look at the most important factors to consider before you move to another country.

1. Organize Your Finances

The most important thing you can do before you move to another country is to organize your finances. You need to consider how far you can stretch your money once you have moved. This is particularly important if you don’t have a job lined up yet in the country you plan to move to.

Currency exchange rates vary between countries and will affect your financial standing. For example, the U.S. dollar is worth more than the Mexican peso. The cost of living is much higher in the United States than it is in Mexico as well.

Set aside up to $2,000 for emergencies before you move to another country. This will help cover living expenses in the beginning before you can generate income once you are settled.

2. Find a Living Space

Find a living space that you can easily afford when you move to another country. First, you need to decide whether you want to rent or buy a home. This will help narrow down your options and will inform you what steps you need to take before you move in.

You typically have to meet different requirements whether you rent or buy a home. Contact the landlord if you plan to rent to find out what their stipulations are. For example, they may require bank statements, a background check, and proof of income.

You will likely need to make a deposit and you may need to include a co-signer. It is also possible to purchase a home when you move to a new country as long as you have good credit. Being new in a country doesn’t stop you from finding a home, it can simply make the process take longer in some cases.

Tip: Begin your search for a home or apartment months before you plan to move to another country. This will make save you time and money so that you don’t have to stay in a hotel right when you move.

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3. Find Employment

You can make your move much easier if you look for a job before you leave your home country. It can be difficult to find a job when you apply from another country, but it is possible. Look up jobs in the general vicinity of where you will live in the new country that you move to.

Some people struggle to find a job within their field when they move to a new country. Because of that, you may need to settle for a job in a different field at first until you can find one within your specialty. Luckily, it is easier than ever to find a job because of the internet whether you are from another country or not.

Prepare a thorough resume and apply to as many jobs as you can to increase your chances of getting hired quickly. It doesn’t hurt to simply apply for a part-time job so that you generate income when you first move. That way, you will have money coming in while you search for a job in your desired field as you gain your footing in a new country.

4. Get Rid of Things You Don’t Need

You will only make things harder on yourself if you move to another country with too many belongings. Get rid of clothes, furniture, and decorations that you don’t necessarily need. This will reduce your moving costs and give you a fresh start in a new country.

Sell things that you don’t need to generate extra income to help with your moving costs. It can be difficult to move to another country if you have too many belongings so you will thank yourself later. Overseas shipping costs are expensive and can make your move unnecessarily difficult.

Depending on where you move, you may not be able to afford as much space as you currently have. For example, a home in Bermuda is much pricier than a home in St. Louis, Missouri. You may not be able to afford a home with as much space as in your country of origin, so it may be necessary to downsize.

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5. Ship Your Furniture

Ship your remaining furniture once you get rid of everything that you don’t need. Unfortunately, this is an expensive process and will cost you thousands of dollars. It cost an average of $2,750 to ship furniture overseas via sea freight.

Costs can exceed $5,000 when you ship furniture by sea depending on the weight and volume. You can also order furniture online and have it shipped to your new address. Save money and only ship essential furniture such as a bed and kitchen table to save money.

In that case, you can buy the rest of the furniture that you need once you get to the new country. The perfect solution varies between people and depends on how much you have to ship. It may be worthwhile to ship essentials and buy the rest in your new country if the cost will exceed $5,000 to ship it all.

Just furniture shipping alone makes the cost to move to another country quite pricey, don’t you think?

6. Set up a Bank Account

Set up a bank account when you move to a new country so that all of your money is readily available. You won’t be able to find the same banks or even ATMs in another country. Contact a bank in the country that you plan to move to and start the process.

Research the area to see which banks are the most reputable and easy to access. The last thing that you want to do is establish an account at a bank with limited locations. Apply for a bank account and transfer funds before you move so that you can access your money if an emergency comes up.

This will also allow you to exchange currency right away if necessary and buy the things that you need. Find out if there are any special steps that you need to take to qualify for a bank account in that particular country. Most banks will require you to have a minimum amount of money to open a new bank account.

7. Apply for Insurance

Apply for travel, homeowner, and/or renter’s insurance when you move to another country. This will help minimize your liability for emergencies and save you a fortune. Travel insurance is extremely important so that you can cover the important items that you bring with you.

It is easy for accidents to happen and for airline and sea freight professionals to lose your luggage. Insurance will make it so that you can get money back for lost and damaged items. Travel insurance can also help cover the cost of booking and rescheduling flights that get canceled.

You also need to apply for homeowners or renters insurance for your new home. This will help cover natural disasters and emergencies that can happen no matter where you live. Insurance can allow you to start your life in a new country on the right foot even if emergencies come up.

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8. Family Reunification Program

You may be eligible for the Family Reunification Program when you move to the United States. This program only applies to people that have direct family in the United States and it can take 2 years to process. Immediate family refers to your child, parent, or spouse.

The program makes it easy for people to move to the United States if they already have family there. Contact your local resettlement agency to make sure that you are eligible for the program. Unfortunately, the UN Refugee Agency isn’t directly involved in this process.

Depending on where you live, your country likely has a UNHCR office that can help you apply for the Family Reunification Program. Apply for this program as soon as possible once you have family in the United States to speed up the process. It can take 2 years before you are granted a visa on behalf of the program as long as you are of an eligible nationality.

9. Learn About Taxes

The country that you move to likely has a much different tax system than what you are used to. It is important to understand and comply with your new country’s tax rates as a new resident. You may be subject to taxes in both your new and original country depending on where you move away from.

For example, the United States will require you to pay taxes even if you move to another country in many cases. You need to file a return in the U.S. when you live in another country even if it isn’t taxable. Otherwise, you could face tax penalties and even legal trouble in the United States.

Related Read: Can You Bring AirPods on a Plane?

10. Get an Investor Visa

Entrepreneurs can move to another country like the United States with an investor visa. This is one of the toughest ways to move to another country because it is quite expensive. You only apply for an investor visa if you invest at least $900,000 in a U.S. company.

Your investment must generate 10 jobs in the U.S. as well for you to qualify for an investor visa. This is a difficult visa for many people to obtain because it requires a lot of capital. However, investor visas are a great option for people with enough capital to make such a large investment.

The main benefit to this visa is that it also applies to your dependent family members. Eligible investors will receive a green card and are fast-tracked to living in the United States. This visa typically takes 6 months to process so make sure to apply as soon as possible.

11. Find a Doctor

It is important to find a doctor that you are comfortable with when you move to another country. Research online to see which doctors are popular and have positive reviews before you make your choice. You may even need to meet several doctors before you find one that you are comfortable with.

A primary care physician is important no matter where you live. They will be able to refer you to specialists in the area which is critical when you are new to a country. Find a doctor that you are comfortable with in case anything comes up and you have health concerns.

12. Learn the Language

Learn the language when you move to a new country to avoid confusion. You don’t need to become fluent in the language at first because that can be difficult. However, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of common words and phrases that you will use in everyday life.

Study the language before you move so that you arrive with some knowledge of it. Eventually, you will understand the language much better through practical use and hearing it often. Having conversations is the best way to learn a language no matter how much you study it in a book.

What is the Easiest Foreign Country to Move to?

The easiest foreign countries to move to are Svalbard, Ecuador, and Mexico. This applies to United States residents and also applies to countries such as Portugal and Malta. Over 1 million United States natives currently live in Mexico because of how easy it is to move there.

It is quite easy to move to Portugal if you have a visa and can quickly become a full citizen. For example, you can become a Portuguese citizen if you’ve had a Golden Visa for 5 years and own a qualifying property in the country. Svalbard is the easiest foreign country to move to if you are from the United States.

While Svalbard may seem unpleasant because of the cold weather, it’s one of the most unique countries in the world. You can easily move to Svalbard as long as you can prove that you are financially stable. Ecuador is among the easiest and most appealing countries because of the minimal requirements and low cost of living.

How Much Money Do You Need To Move Abroad?

Ideally, you should have at least $5,000-$7,000 to move abroad as a single person. The amount of money that you need to move abroad increases with each person that moves with you. For example, you would need roughly $15,000-$20,000 to move abroad if you have a large family.

It’s important to have a nice nest egg of money in case you have a hard time finding a job right away. You also want to have enough money to cover a down payment, rent, mortgage, and car payment if necessary. It costs thousands of dollars just to get to a new country between air travel and shipping your furniture.

Save as much money as possible in the months before you move to another country. It is particularly expensive to move abroad if you have children. Consider postponing your move if you have a family and less than $15,000 set aside because you may not be able to cover basic needs. Keep in mind that you will need to pay for furniture, groceries, school supplies, and possibly tuition.

How Can I Legally Move to Another Country?

You can legally move to another country if you apply for a visa. Students can also move to another country if they qualify for an exchange program. Otherwise, a permanent residency visa will allow you to stay in another country without a timeline.

Work and religious visas only allow you to stay in a country for a limited period. For example, a work visa will generally expire after 6 years in a foreign country. This is a great option for people that want to test out life in another country before moving there permanently.

Make sure that you apply for a visa extension several months before it will expire. A visa can take months to expire and you can face penalties if you stay in a country with an expired visa. You can apply for a green card once you have a visa in the United States, and it can take up to 3 years to receive one if you qualify.

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