When looking for a country to move to, or even set your sights on your next big trip, you should definitely do a good amount of research before you pack your bags. In this post, I’ll share 5 things you absolutely must research before you relocate to another country.
Relocation Research Tip # 1 – Climate
Firstly, it sounds like a no-brainer to consider weather when determining where you will travel to next. But sometimes, general weather information is not enough. It helps to be armed with information on rainfall, humidity, and possible monsoon seasons – especially if headed to a tropical climate. Some countries, like Malaysia, have two monsoon seasons, so unless you are planning to cuddle indoors for the majority of your trip you’d better make sure to avoid certain times of the year and locations in Malaysia.
If you are interested in a permanent move, its best to take into account what kind of experience you’d like to have in your host country. I love being outdoors, so Singapore was a natural choice with its warm weather, biking and hiking trails, and world-renowned plush gardens. On the other hand, while I love hiking, I don’t think hiking in Finland would be a good choice for me because I’ve got a super sensitive internal clock, and having only a few hours of daylight daily would be a huge con for me.
Relocation Research Tip #2 – Currency
Secondly, how far your money will go should certainly be a major factor in determining which country to move to. Many countries that sounds like great places to live like Hong Kong, London, and Singapore have huge rental costs and generally higher costs of living. It makes sense to do a comparative cost of living check before making the big move to understand what your quality of life would be like in a new country.
For example, if you are used to eating out at nice restaurants or having a 2,000 sq. ft home, but live in Atlanta, you probably won’t be able to get the same amount of house or fine dining in Shanghai for the same cost. Be sure to check out rental costs in the country you are researching – and try to find a country-specific housing website. Here are a few housing rental websites in various countries to give you an idea:
Also, when checking out local websites beware of websites that cater only to foreigners or expats as their prices may be inflated when compared to other websites in local languages that are more targeted towards locals.
Relocation Research Tip # 3 – Culture
Culture is also a major factor when determining your next destination country. If you are an outgoing person, love to be in crowds and talk to strangers, moving to a country where you don’t speak the language or people aren’t generally so open doesn’t make sense. Sweden is a great example of this stark contrast.
For example, I speak Chinese fluently, but most Chinese people won’t approach me and strike up a conversation. It’s a culture thing – Chinese don’t usually befriend foreign strangers in supermarkets just chatting about the weather. On the other hand, while in Shanghai I had plenty of work friends and connected with Chinese people in different social circles. It really depends on how you are perceived in the culture and in the context of the relationship.
Relocation Research Tip # 4 – Cuisine
Again, this one sounds like a no-brainer but my husband can attest to it being a huge challenge. He is originally from Serbia where people eats lots of meats, breads, and cheeses. I mean lots. Living in Shanghai, China was a HUGE adjustment for him – much more veggies, rice instead of bread, and meats that have bones rather than fillets. I’m not sure he ever really recovered from that.
For me, I’m a foodie and adventurous eater. That doesn’t mean I will eat anything, it just means that I’m more likely to try anything…once at least. Countries like Singapore, that have diverse populations usually tend to have diverse food offerings. Here you can find just about any kind of food – Indian, Chinese, Thai, Western, Mexican, Middle Eastern you name it. And it’s pretty authentic.
Relocation Research Tip # 5 – Work and Residence Permits
Don’t even think about getting excited about any destination until you research the laws and regulations for your living and working in that country, especially in this chaotic time of COVID-19. Your relocation research should include checking into entry visas relevant for passport holders from your country. You’ll also have to check and see how long you are able to stay before you get authorization to work in the country. This is all assuming you find a job straight away. If the job market is tough, which in most industries across the world it is, you’ll have to think about what leverage you have to legally remain in the country.
This is a big one – and perhaps the most important in the list. You can save it for last on your list however and simply be persistent and diligent about creating a strategy to obtain a work and/or residence permit.
Relocation Research is Key
All in all, do your research! Talk to other expats, particularly black women expats to find out more about their experiences in certain countries. Keeping in mind above pointers you will definitely be on your way to a great adventure.