It’s finally happening: After weeks, months, even years of dedication, hard work, and patience, you’ve been offered an opportunity to live abroad and experience a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.
After you’ve shared the very exciting news with everyone on your contact list, your Facebook friends, and maybe a stranger or two on the street, the nerves have started to creep in. As thrilling a prospect as it is to pack up all your things and move across the world, the logistics of it — the planning — can be complicated and overwhelming.
Related: This Is the First Thing You Should Do If Your Flight Is Canceled or Diverted
But if you start preparing early, you’ll find the entire process manageable. To help you begin, we’ve rounded up nine steps every future expat should take before they leave, wherever the destination or however long the journey.
1. Save as much money as you can.
Consider how much money it costs to move across the country. Now think of how much it will take to get you to the other side of the globe! Costs include but are not limited to: the visa application, plane tickets, international shipments, housing, and emergencies.
The old advice of having six-months worth of savings is a good one — and that should be a minimum when moving abroad. We also suggest researching the exchange rate and the cost of living in your new home, and coming up with a monthly budget plan. Be prepared to pay unanticipated costs your first few months.
2. Apply for or renew your passport.
Before you can apply for a visa, you must have a valid passport. Some countries require you to have a passport that is valid for at least six months beyond your final travel date. If you do not have a set return date and your passport expires while you’re abroad, you can renew your passport at your local U.S. Embassy or consulate general.
3. Apply for a visa.
First check your new country’s government website to see what supporting documentation you will need to send in for your application, which will vary depending on the visa. For example, if you are applying for a student visa in the UK, you will need to provide a copy of your offer letter from the university and proof that you have enough money to support yourself during the course of your studies. You may also need to set up an appointment at a U.S. Department of Homeland Security application support center to submit your biometrics (e.g. fingerprints and photograph).
4. Plan ahead for health care.
When you live abroad, you…