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How to Move to a New Country Alone

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Moving to another country is a huge life change, but doing it alone is an extremely daring and daunting task. Leaving your home country by yourself will change your life and challenge you in ways you could never imagine. The challenge is part of the journey, but there still are some things you should know and prepare for when travelling overseas alone.

Tell your friends and family

Once you decide that you are going to move out of the country alone, you need to break the news to your friends and family. Whatever your reasons for the move, it will likely upset some of the people who care about you. The implied message may be that your support system at home has failed you and now you're going away on your own. Explain to loved ones that this is not the case, and moving abroad is something you want to do by yourself--not a punishment for the people in your life.

Research your destination

After you let your friends and family know about your international move, focus on where you are going. It is time to research your destination and plan for the trip.
  • Read online expat blogs to see what other travellers said about their experiences in your destination. Look for other solo travellers to get a more precise idea of what lies ahead.
  • Figure out what type of visa you can or should get. Go to the destination country's consulate/government website to learn what visa options are available to you.
  • Review customs regulations for your destination country. Some surprising items are restricted or prohibited in foreign countries. Make sure everything that you plan on packing will be allowed in the country.
  • See if you can find postings for apartments in your destination. As a solo traveller, you can be flexible and shop around when you arrive. If you find a place before you travel, that is one less thing to worry about.

Pack lightly

It is always a good idea to pack lightly when moving. Since you are moving yourself, you may be able to bring the things you need in your carry on and luggage during the trip.
  • Only pack clothes that are climate appropriate.
  • Remember to pack all relevant identification.
  • Avoid packing furniture and appliances. Hotels and hostels should be your destination before you settle into an often furnished apartment.
  • If you need a separate shipment for your things, hire a good international moving company. You still want to keep your shipment small since you are charged by volume and sometimes weight for international shipments.

At your destination

Once you're alone overseas, you could be suffering from culture shock and feel like you made the wrong decision. 
  • Be flexible and open minded. Don't be afraid to stay somewhere cheap and dirty for a few nights. You will become more self reliant as your time alone increases and you work through the hardships of culture shock and minimalist housing.
  • Be careful when interacting with strangers. Cultural nuances could lead to miscommunication and you could inadvertently offend someone. Be polite and try to mirror the behaviour that you see in locals. Don't be offended if you are singled out or stared at for being foreign.
  • Try to get to know locals and see if there are dangerous parts of town that you should avoid.
  • Go back to those expat blogs. See if you can find and meet with some expats from your home country. Your shared experiences and cultural observations should make you instant friends.
  • Be open to making local friends, as well. Meeting new people who are unlike you is part of the appeal of moving abroad alone. A local friend will integrate you with the new culture very quickly.
  • Keep touch with friends and family back home. Just because you're alone in a foreign country, doesn't mean that you have to be dead to the people that were in your life. The internet makes keeping in touch very simple.
  • If you are in a country where English is not the primary language, look for English teachers. This is an extremely common expat job and you may find one who is genuinely bilingual, which will help when it comes to learning the new language yourself.
  • If you find yourself overwhelmed and out of money, you always could move back home.
  • Give yourself time to adjust. You can adapt to a surprising amount of things. If you feel like giving up, give yourself another month abroad and see if you still want to leave.

Whether you're moving abroad for a job, an extended vacation, or for years to come, doing so alone allows you freedom and solitude that are unparalleled. If you are well prepared and able to adapt on your own, it can be a life changing experience that will teach you about the world and yourself.

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on November 24, 2014 - Moving Expert
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