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Everything You Should Know Before You Move Abroad

Everything You Should Know Before You Move Abroad

When the time came to move abroad, I was a weird mixture of excited, nervous and terrified.

I was packing up everything I knew with zero plans or preparations, and moving to a developing country I had never been to.

Friends had told me that Vietnam was amazing to travel, but I knew no one that had moved there or lived there to know if it was a good fit.

In fact, I had never been to ANY developing country at the time, so I really had no idea what my quality of life would be like!

Thankfully now I know that moving abroad isn’t as difficult as it all initially feels it will be.

Even if you struggle with change, your move abroad can be made simple when well prepared for.

But like any change, there are some small bumps and hurdles to overcome.

I wish someone had outlined in a bit more detail some of the legal processes and requirements, all the things I needed to tie up back home in case I forgot and also how to deal with some of the culture shock!

After searching at the time and not finding anything that actually fully prepared me, I have put together the biggest things I wish I knew and would have supported me through my big move abroad.

From health insurance to visas, I have put together all the things I wish I was more knowledgeable about!

Renew your passport

If you’re taking the step to move abroad, there is a good chance you love to travel!

Visas and stamps take up a lot of space in your passport, and after less than a year abroad I am already running out of space in mine!

I wish I had known this before I moved so I could have applied for a passport on home turf which is SO much easier than applying from overseas.  

Notarize and copy important documents

Organising documents to be able to work abroad legally has been one of the only things that has given me a headache in the whole process of moving abroad.

My best advice is to make sure you have a few copies of all your official documents in a file and even though it is expensive, get your documents notarized.

When looking for a notary, do a lot of research as some seem more than willing to take excessive money for their services. I mean, I had one notary quote me £1500, whilst another quoted £300 for exactly the same service.

Also scan in all important documents so you have a digital copy if all else fails!

You’ll need all of this when organising the legal work documentation in your new home. Having it all prepared would have made the whole process a LOT smoother for me!

Health vs travel insurance

Being a little naive and coming from a country where we don’t pay for health insurance, I thought these were the same thing.

So I believed travel insurance would be enough to get by.

Although travel insurance was fine for the first couple of months, I found out that if I was ever in an accident and needed a hospital travel insurance would send me back to the UK for treatment if they deemed it a cheaper alternative.

With the number of motorbike and traffic accidents here I wasn’t willing to take that risk of being shipped back to the UK, so a good health insurance policy made much more sense.

Not only is it cheaper in general, but health insurance will cover you for a tonne more stuff too.

Connect with other expats

One of the best things I found were online expat groups for Hanoi and Vietnam.

Chances are, if you type in the country or city you are moving to in to facebook then there will be a suitable group for you to join.

I joined ‘Hanoi massive community’ and a bunch of others and it is one way to find out information that can otherwise be hard to get hold of because of the language barrier.

If I ever have a question, I can search previous posts or ask and the community usually has a lot to say!

It is also how we started meeting up with other people who live in the same part of Hanoi as us. So if you’re worried you ‘ll be a bit lonely, these groups are a great way to make friends and connect with others.

Research cost of living and budget accordingly

I got a bit frustrated when looking up cost of living in Vietnam because some people were being so unrealistic jut for the sake of having a viral video or post.

Things like the $20 challenge in Vietnam was one – a guy went around Hanoi and tried to spend $20 in one day. He made it seem virtually impossible but there are frequent days where I spend that much if I want some home comforts or a nice meal out!

My pet peeve aside, I did find it hard to gauge properly how much cost of living would be in Vietnam (see here for my honest reflections on that).

This website seemed to have to most accurate information so far, and it helps you get a much better idea for how much you will need to earn to have a comfortable life in your new home.

Culture shock will come and go quickly

I freaked out at the thought that I might not be able to get used to some aspects of a totally different culture on the other side of the world.

And yes, I did have a few days of feeling a bit overwhelmed and unsure of whether this was somewhere I wanted to call home.

Time is the greatest healer.

Changing up any routine takes a bit of time, so allow yourself some space to settle!

I am so glad I reserved any judgement and waited for my routine to settle because I can confidently say my life is happier and healthier now than it ever has been, and it wouldn’t be this way if I hadn’t made the move abroad.

Embrace the chaos of the first few days and what once felt crazy will become your new normal!

(Trust me, I now ride motorbikes to work every day and have a pool in my apartment block. It becomes the new norm).

I hope you feel better prepared for your big move abroad!

Remember that if I can do it, anyone can!

If you are a fellow expat like me and have some other tips you think are worth sharing just drop them in the comments 🙂

Love and joy

Lucia x

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