So not only have you made the big decision to move abroad, you’ve decided to move abroad alone. The fact that you’ve even made the choice is so exciting and such a huge life change to look forward to. Big ups to you and congrats! As someone who is on her fourth stint abroad, I highly approve 🙂
Moving abroad alone can be a scary thing to do especially if you’ve never done it before. But it can also be one of the most exciting and amazing experiences of your life. If you’re having any doubts about it, that is perfectly normal. Taking the leap and moving abroad alone is a major life change and one I personally think anyone who has the opportunity should go for it. You can always go back home if it doesn’t work out. Never look at it as a fail, you still took a chance and realised maybe it wasn’t for you. Ain’t no shame in that. I think its a learning experience and story for the grandkids if anything else! And every experience you have shapes you as a person. Travel does wonders in this area. Any experience abroad enhances you on a personal level.
Preparing to move abroad alone can take some major planning and be quite overwhelming. So let’s take a look at a few things that can help break it down.
Saving Money for your move abroad
This is one of the most important parts of preparing to move abroad. Luckily moving abroad alone is much cheaper than moving with a family. Making sure you can support yourself financially while getting set-up in your new country should be a top priority. Trust me on this I’ve been there. When I first moved abroad alone to the UK in 2011, I was a bit naive having no clue what I was doing. I enjoyed myself a little too much and unfortunately funds ran low quite fast in comparison to what I was earning while working. Sadly, I had to return home early. That first move abroad really sparked my love of the expat life so I learned my lesson to not make the same mistake again.
Plan ahead as much as possible and put yourself on a tight budget. Really think about what is important to you and takes precedence so you can see what needs to be cut out in order to save. For instance, is going out with friends for weekend drinks a priority or is jet setting to your new country earlier than planned? Or perhaps taking a holiday when you first arrive is of higher importance. Either way look at where you can cut costs. By ruling out those extra costs and expenses you can really save money in areas you may not have realised you were spending so much in.
Prepare Your Paperwork Before Moving Abroad Solo
Depending where you are moving abroad to and what type of visa you are on or obtaining, the paperwork can vary. Making sure you do your research and have all supporting documents in order and in the timeline needed is very important.
Some visas can be very easy to obtain. For instance the process of applying for the Working Holiday Visa in Australia was very straight forward and I had my visa approved in a few hours. Yet the application to move abroad to the UK on the Ancestry Visa was much more in depth and required more preparation and timeline planning. Getting documents in order especially when you need certified copies from the government can take time so plan accordingly.
Selling Belongings When You Move Abroad
This can be a great way to save up for your solo move abroad. Items that you might not realise you own could be of value to someone else. Look at selling things online, local markets and garage sales are all great options. Depending how long you are deciding to move abroad for you can look at selling furniture, a car if you own one, clothing, dish ware, anything really. Every little bit adds up!
I randomly sold some shoes, my bed and bike. It didn’t seem like much at the time but it added up to an extra few hundred dollars I was able to put towards my solo move abroad.
Finding Work For When You Move Abroad Alone
Can you find work ahead of time before moving abroad or do you need to wait until you arrive in your new country? Perhaps you are lucky and already have a job lined up.
Many people actually make the move abroad for a work position. Whether it’s something in your career field, teaching overseas, or doing freelance, you might be able to find employment prior to moving abroad alone. Perhaps your current company is able to transfer you to a new location. Checking all avenues before moving abroad is always a great idea!
When I was preparing to move abroad to Australia on my own, I knew I wanted to try and get my farm work for my second year visa done as quickly as possible. I joined various Facebook groups ahead of time, spoke with people online, researched loads and lined up a position ahead of time before arriving in Australia. In the end I didn’t get my visa due to some external factors which I’ll save for a rainy day post but it was peace of mind at the time knowing I was going over with a job already lined up.
Another option to look into is volunteering or WWOOFING (Willing Workers on Organic Farms and World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms) while abroad. More or less you are providing work in exchange for food a bed and and a roof over your head.
Becoming an AuPair is also a great option for working abroad. This is typically a live in position where you get a small wage, meals and accommodation with the family in exchange for assisting with the care of their child/children. Duties can range from all sorts such as taking the kids to school, helping with homework, language skills and cleaning around the house. Getting set-up with a reputable company is always a good idea.
Some hostels will offer accommodation free of charge in exchange for work. This can be a great way to save money while travelling. You might do duties such as cleaning, cooking, running the front desk and hostel events a few hours a week for a discounted rate or free bed.
Finding a Place to Live When When You Move Abroad Alone
Depending on where you’re moving to and the type of circumstances you may have, finding a place to live when you move abroad alone can be much easier than if you’re in a couple, group or family.
I personally found booking hostels can be a bit difficult when you’re with other people especially when you need last minute booking. When I first moved to New Zealand there were three of us trying to all book beds in a hostel together and finding something that fit all our budgets until we found a proper apartment proved to be rather tricky. Not that I would have changed a thing, but being alone would have been much simpler.
Looking for a room in a flat share can also be much easier when you are solo compared to looking for a place as a group or couple. I find living with others in a flat share when first arriving in a new country is such a great way to meet people and make new friends. Its usually much more cost effective as well. Living alone can be quite pricey depending on where you are.
There are many great sites to help with finding accommodation. Facebook groups are always a good option and here in the UK SpareRoom is one of the most popular sites.
Dealing With Banks and Any Payments You Need to Make Before Moving Abroad
Before you make your solo move abroad, call your banks and let them know. Depending on how long you decide to leave your home country for you might decide to either close your accounts or leave them open. When I left for Australia, I knew my visa was for only one year and although I wasn’t sure if I would be returning after that I opted to keep my accounts open. I had student loans I was paying from my Canadian account and my credit card was linked to it as well. An easy and cost friendly way to pay any bills you might have when living abroad is through TransferWise. I find them much cheaper compared to Paypal and the money transfer is super fast. I also use Transferwise when transferring funds to my new bank account when moving abroad. More information on that below. My Canadian funds were in my UK account in 24 hours.
Opening a Bank Account When Moving Abroad
Opening a bank account in a new country can be a bit tricky depending where you are. Australia and New Zealand proved to be straight forward. Most banks will usually ask for proof of address and in Australia and NZ I was able to use the hostel address I was staying at. In the UK they ask for an actual address and hostels tend to not count. This can be tricky if you don’t have a permanent address yet or have a friend or family member’s address you can use. Luckily there is a bank account called Monzo here in the UK which is an online bank and you can open an account very easily. They send you a card within two days to the address you provide them with and you are ready to go! As it is an online bank there are no actual physical locations to go to. You can always open an account with another leading bank once you are set up with a home address.
You might be able to open an account in your home country before going abroad if that bank has locations overseas. Do some research on different banks where you are moving to and see what the best option is.
Transferring Funds To Your New Bank Account Abroad
As mentioned above, I am a huge fan of TransferWise. Its fast, convenient and no hidden fees. It shows you exactly what you will be charged before you finalise the transfer. Transferring funds directly through your bank can result in hidden bank fees through middle man banks. I learned this the hard way when I was in Australia. I ended up getting charged an additional $130 CND through the transaction and was pretty upset as you can imagine.
Using Transferwise I know what I’m paying and when to expect my funds. Much more peace of mind.
Setting up Travel Insurance When Moving Abroad
This is so important! Always make sure that you have travel insurance before going abroad. You might think to yourself that nothing will happen, but you never know. The price for travel insurance is far worth it compared to the massive hospital or medical bill you can get if you have an accident abroad. There are some really cost friendly travel insurance companies out there so do your research. I think I paid about $600 CND for one year in Australia and that included a basic plan. One great company out there is World Nomad’s. You can get insurance while you are already abroad which is so handy. It can happen to the best of us that you forget to extend your travel insurance while you are overseas. Some insurance companies might require you to be in your country when booking insurance. World Nomad’s you can book from anywhere.
When I was in Bali I fell into a five foot deep ditch and thought I broke my leg. Luckily I didn’t and decided to not go to the hospital and just to the local clinic instead, but had it been worse that travel insurance would have been real handy! Its also amazing for valuables. Staying in hostels your prized items especially electronics can be at risk of being stolen. Nowadays so many people have expensive technology, cameras, drones, you name it. Having travel insurance can help you get those items reimburbsed if they go missing or damaged.
Building A Community When Moving Abroad Alone
When you first move abroad alone you might move to a place where you don’t know anyone and that can be really scary and extremely lonely. Nowadays with thanks to the internet and social media apps there are so many ways to connect with others in your new home. There is a group for expats here from Canada in London on Facebook Called Canadians in London, I’ve heard of Australians in London and there are so many others including London New Girl and loads of job and networking sites. These are just a few examples from London. Meetup is also a great way to meet people in other cities when abroad. You can find a group for almost any interest or hobby you might have.
Prepare to Feel Lonely When You Move Abroad
Unfortunately this is a given for many people. You can be surrounded by new friends you’ve met in your new country when you move abroad alone, and still find yourself feeling lonely. The fact you are away from your familiar surroundings, your family and things that resonate ‘home’ can leave you feeling lonely and it can sneak up when you least expect it. I have found myself out with people, living in hostels where I’m constantly surrounded by people who I’ve become friends with and felt very alone. I think this is just part of travelling in general but there are ways to deal with it on a positive level. Contacting family and friends regularly and writing your emotions down in a journal can be a great ways to cope. One thing I have found from living abroad is that friendships form on such a deeper level and much faster than if you are at home. Travelling has a funny way of doing this. Loneliness also makes you stronger as a person as you learn to be by yourself and enjoy your own company much more. Be strong! It normal to feel lonely from time to time especially in the beginning when getting set-up. Having a community is so important when moving abroad so get out there and find your tribe!
Prepare to Have an Amazing Time!
Moving abroad alone can take a lot of guts and be an overwhelming process. But stick with it! It can be the best experience of your life with amazing memories to look back on. It can be your dream life come true, you never know unless you take the chance. You can form amazing new friendships, have incredible work experience and travel opportunities you may have not thought possible.
And like I said, if you realise its not for you there is nothing wrong with that! You tried and that is bigger than not trying. I hope you find this post helpful and if you have any questions hit me up! I am always here to connect and help out in anyway I can.
Safe travels! xx