The idea of living abroad with your better half is exciting, intriguing and full of promise. Americans considering moving abroad must also realize that it could also be full of potential pitfalls, which you can avoid if you follow a few simple guidelines:
1. Discuss your goals
This is probably the most important point of all. Once you’ve decided that moving abroad together is something that you want to do, you’d better know exactly what to expect – from each other and from your destination. What kind of expat lifestyle do you each want? Is it practical or even desirable according to the location to which you are heading? Of course, having fun and experiencing a whole new lifestyle together is very appealing. But you need to know your precise aims and objectives:
- Are you going to foreign climes to save money?
- To travel the area?
- To study, or to work?
- Do you want to learn the local language and culture and become integrated in local communities?
- If you are moving for work, once your contract is over, do you think you might want to stay on?
Talk openly and frankly, because your answers could affect your entire experience if you are fuzzy on the expectations.
2. Plan Ahead
It’s not just a matter of packing your suitcase and heading for the airport. You each have a lot of planning to do, like:
- Check visa regulations
- Make sure your passports are valid
- Look up the vaccination requirements
But then you need to know where and how you intend to live in your foreign paradise. An apartment, a house, rental, purchasing, a hut on the beach?
The expected length of your stay will dictate a good deal of this, and also guide you in packing up your personal belongings…and whether these go with you, or go into storage. Contact an international moving company to help you with moving or storing your possessions.
3. Be flexible
Don’t make a strict timeline. Be open and flexible to changes as they come up – and they WILL! Much of what happens to you abroad is entirely out of your control, there will be events and incidents that will sorely test your patience and your resolve. Changes in flights, local bureaucracy, weather, unavailability of boats, planes and trains; and many more. If you are going to be strict about your timeline and getting to where you expect to be exactly when you expect to be there, you are setting yourself up for a heap of frustration and potential arguments with your partner.
4. Travel together first
Think of it as getting to know each other all over again. You will each find out things about the other that maybe you didn’t know or notice before. Simple things that may annoy you, or things that will delight you. How open to change is your partner? How does he/she deal with eating and drinking foreign food, cleanliness and personal hygiene, tolerance of local customs, type of travel and activities, etc.? If you can’t pass this test, and end up bickering over small aspects of travel, then you might need to rethink your relocation plans.
5. Set boundaries
Take time for yourself. You cannot live in each other’s pocket for forever. The time will come when you absolutely MUST meet new people and do things on your own – no matter how devoted you may be to each other. It’s just natural and healthy. Join a gym, a sports club, take up a hobby, take a language course, make friends with locals and expand your social circle beyond just your partner. It will not only expand your horizons, but will also enhance your relationship.
6. Don’t forget about romance
It’s not easy to stay romantic when you spend nearly all your time together and depend on each other. It’s easy to become complacent about romance when you’re eating every meal together and trying to budget at the same time. But if you really want to STAY together, you’re going to have make that extra effort in the romance department.
Find out what the locals do when dating – a special place to go, something fun to do, special food or flowers or wine. What are the local courting customs and romantic traditions? You’ll find it so much easier to continue your odyssey together if you do that!
Moving abroad can be a fantastic adventure for you to share with your partner. Keep these 6 tips in mind as you embark on this journey in your lives to make sure it is a pleasant and memorable experience.