Going to live abroad
Relocating from one country to another is not an easy decision to make – it seems exciting and scary at the same time. It is perfectly normal to feel a bit anxious, after all you will have to reorganise your life and learn virtually everything anew. That’s why it’s important to read on how things work in the country or city you are considering moving to, and to prepare a checklist of things that will need to be taken care of prior to your departure and then on your arrival. Still, moving overseas, even for a short period of time, is a fantastic life-changing opportunity! Here’s a short guide on how to go about your big move – reduce your stress by some pre-departure research!
Attention now, if you are going to live in the UK we also have a specific Moving to Great Britain guide!
EU – GENERAL INFORMATION
Your Europe compiles all the information you need about your rights and duties when living in a different country. Whether you are studying, working or still looking for a job, there are things you need to do when you move to a different country, and you can find plenty of useful information there.
Coming from one EU country to another, you don’t need a visa, and travelling within Schengen area, not even a passport is needed – your national ID is enough. If you are not sure, what kind of travel documents will be required of you, visit the European Migration and Homme Affairs website.
If you are from the UK, you can learn about getting your first adult passport from our short guide.
NATIONAL TAX IDENTIFICATION AND SOCIAL SECURITY NUMBER
In case you are going to work, receive a scholarship or have any type of income, more often than not, you will be required by the local regulations to register as a resident and get yourself an identification number. Sometimes it is a personal one, sometimes a fiscal one – they might be either combined or, say, in case of setting up your own business you might need two separate ones. Usually there should be forms available in English, which you can look up and download in advance. Since it’s your first time registering though, it most probably won’t be available online – you will have to go to a local registration office and submit all the paper there. Don’t forget to check whether the office works on a walk-in basis, otherwise you might need to book an appointment in advance.
Air: Check out different airports – there might be convenient flights to another city nearby, and in order to have more options, it’s good to know which cities and which airports are well connected.
Coach: Low-cost coach lines are a big thing in Europe now, so if you are travelling on a budget, check out what are the local ones, and travel for as little as 5€ per ride.
Rail: Travelling by train might be pricey in some countries, but there’s a lot of good deals for young people, so do a research on discounts and passes, as well as group and/or weekend tickets to travel with your friends.
Public transport: Public transportation options vary from one city to another – you will have to look up the local provider. Again, make sure whether you are eligible for a student/young person discount. Sometimes it’s up to a 50% discount!
Don’t forget to investigate a travel-card/monthly-card option, which gives you the freedom to travel as much as you like on bus, tube, tram, etc. for the fixed amount of time. If you are going to study, it might be the case that you will be able use your student ID card as a top-up transportation card.
Download a local public transportation app for detailed information and precise timetables. It is a good idea to ask a local person what is the best app for that.
YOUR STUFF – HOW ABOUT SHIPPING A PARCEL?
A lot of things to bring with you? Here’s our moving abroad tip: a smart alternative to taking 5 pieces of luggage on the plane with you might be shipping a parcel. There are many companies providing shipping services; it is usually much cheaper to send one or two 40kg boxes, than struggling to pack everything into 20-30kg suitcases, which you then have to drag around with you. Shipping a parcel using a door-to-door service is a sound way of reducing both stress and costs of moving overseas.
It is usually best to use shipping platforms – they work a bit like search engines for best prices, and collaborate with different couriers, as well as some of them also have their own transportation. You can pick the collection date while placing your order, and later on can track your parcel online. There are also different insurance options. The cheapest way is to find a company based in the country you are shipping your belongings from or to.
Now, an elephant in the room: how do I find a place to stay?! This part might seem to be one of the biggest challenges and it is perfectly understandable that you might be stressing out about it a great deal. For example in the UK, websites like spareroom, gumtree, easyroomate are helpful if you are searching to share a flat or a house. Look for similar ones in the country you are moving to. Most of the offers these days are advertised on Facebook groups, so before moving, make sure to join a bunch of them (e.g. Amsterdam flatshare, Brussels apartments for rent, Expat rooms Lisbon – it could be anything along these lines; type in different options and join as many groups as you can in order to browse accommodation offers). It might be a good idea to look for advertisements in the local language, as there are usually fewer offers in English, plus foreigners often end up being overcharged. Thank you Google Translate!
If you are going to study, your university might be offering student housing, and in case you can go for a dorm, accepting it is usually the best choice. It saves you lots of troubles, formalities, and time, plus you get to hang with other students!
From country to country, and from one landlord to another, there are different systems: you might find an all-inclusive deal, or you might be charged basic rent, with bills and other fees paid separately. It is fairly common that the landlord requires at least 6 months agreement. Before signing a contract, make sure you understand which parts are covered by your rent, and how much more you will need to spend monthly in addition to it. In order to sign a lease agreement apart from your ID or passport, you might need your work contract or university enrolment proof. Typically, as a first instalment you will need to pay 1-month rent plus a deposit, which equals 1 or 2 monthly rents.
You can also use services of one of the estate & letting agencies in town, though this would require a bigger budget, plus it is not very common unless you are thinking of buying a property or a long-term rental of an entire building.
Need to sort out your part-time job, or entering a full-time paid internship? Getting your scholarship or student loan instalments every month? Stay on top of your finances! You will most probably need a local bank account. Even though some companies or schools are okay with transferring money to your foreign account, it is generally more convenient to open a local bank account – gives you more options and flexibility, allows easier and faster transfers, etc. To open a bank account you will usually need a proof of identity, a proof of address and/or your work contract or university enrolment proof. This might vary from one country to another though.
It depends on the type of employment, but the tax is usually deducted directly from your salary on a pay-as-you-earn basis. You should still check all the regulations and make sure you are not forgetting anything. Double check what are the taxation rules back at home as well – sometimes you need to declare the income made abroad back in your home country, however this is not always necessary.
Check out Your Europe – Income Taxes Abroad for details about each European country and to learn how much will be deducted from your salary.
Each EU country has a different health care system. If you are a full-time student or have a full-time employment, you should be covered by the system.
For emergencies and while travelling, always remember to have a valid European Health Insurance Card on you.
There is a bunch of innovative shopping/exchange platforms, which come in handy when you have just moved to a new place and can’t afford spending too much on new furniture and equipment.
- Shpock is a boot sale app for things nearby, so if you don’t have a car and/or your budget is tight, it’s a brilliant way of second-hand shopping in your neighbourhood.
- LetGo is a free, person-to-person, mobile app, which allows users to buy from, sell to and chat with others locally.
- What about borrowing stuff instead of buying everything in a rush on the first day after you have moved? Fat Lama is the platform that lets you rent out your belongings to others nearby – renting items also benefits the environment.
- Gumtree and OLX (depending on the country) – shop but also look for flats and jobs on there.
- Again, Facebook groups. Type in different combinations of the name of the city you are moving to with “online market”, “second-hand”, “free you stuff”, “give away”, “buy, sell, swap” and similar.
Check-out local open-air markets and neighbourhood sales.
Charity and second-hand shops – explore your local charity shops, you can find a lot of interesting furniture and decorations as well as vintage clothes there – you can find some real gems there; it is affordable and good for the community!
Do some research on the country you are moving too – read a bit about its history, culture and traditions. Try to find out what is considered polite and what could be perceived as a rude behaviour. The more you know prior to your move, the less likely you are to accidently offend a local or be caught off guard yourself. And the rest will come naturally, don’t worry, you will start understanding more and more once already there, and you will learn a lot from the locals too.
You can also visit Culture & Creativity (select the country you are going to) in search for some useful information.
There is a lot of mobile apps to learn a language on the go, and you can start getting ready for your move by learning simple everyday phrases – locals will truly appreciate your efforts, and they will be happy to talk to you. Start with simple ones, like good morning, thank you, please, excuse me, my name is, I come from, How to say this, Have a nice day, etc. Learn how to count from 1 to 10. It’s not too big of a challenge and can make all the difference when you arrive to a new country. You have probably heard of Duolingo, but there is a lot of other apps too, e.g. Babbel, My Language Exchange or Hello Talk, so make sure to check out a few of them to decide which one is the most suitable for your needs.
Fun fact: you can meet plenty of amazing people while learning a language; I know a French guy, who met his Brazilian – now – wife through an online language learning service – now they happily live together in Lisbon, and he is super-fluent in Portuguese too!
Living in a new country may demand a bit of a different language-learning approach. When you are already there, depending on your personal needs, you might be interested in signing up for an actual language course. Private language schools are usually quite expensive, but most of places have some community/city council run services either for adult education or for immigrants, which offer affordable or free language courses. It might be also worth checking out your neighbourhood council, local community centres, churches or Red Cross as all of those might be offering some language classes.
SPEAK is an interesting option as well. It’s a cultural and language exchange and you can sign up choosing the way you would like to participate: you an either only attend classes, or learn for free in exchange for teaching once a week. You can learn a language for as little as 25€/month.
For less formal solutions, think of finding a tandem partner: you would help them hone their skills in your native language and in exchange they will teach you theirs!
You would probably not be the only foreigner living in your new city. There are several expatriates' groups around the world that can help you find accommodation, jobs, furniture, events and many useful tips.
- Just Landed: choose a country and you will be connected with other expats and find what you need to live abroad.
- Expatriates.com: check out the ads for your city or region or post your own ad.
- InterNations: find other expatriates in more than 390 cities worldwide. Get tips, help get together offline at the monthly events and activities.
You can also find local portals and many other communities like the ones on Facebook, just search for the city you are moving to.
The EU "roam like at home" rules mean that when you use your mobile phone while travelling outside your home country in any EU country you don't have to pay any additional roaming charges. You benefit from these rules when calling, sending text messages and using data services while abroad. These rules also apply when receiving calls or texts while roaming even if the person you are calling is using a different service provider.
You pay exactly the same price for using these services when travelling in the EU as you would if you were at home. In practice, your operator simply charges or takes your roaming consumption from the volumes in your domestic mobile tariff plan/bundle.
If you had a contract with a mobile operator which includes roaming services it automatically became "a roam like at home" contract. The default option for all new mobile contracts with roaming services is "roam like at home".
This means that if you are going to another EU country there is no rush getting yourself a local sim card: you will have a lot of time to consider different options.
More information regarding mobile phone services and networks:
Last but not least, ASK. Ask everybody about everything and anything. There’s no shame in not knowing how things work, and, even if they might seem silly, you shouldn’t be embarrassed asking questions like “how to purchase a bus ticket”, “how to register”, “where to get some information from”. You are a foreigner, and have no obligation of knowing and understanding everything prior to your arrival. Smile and be polite but also try looking confident and make yourself clear (even if you are panicking inside – we’ve all been there!), and simply ask about everything in information and customer service points as well as on the street. It’s better to ask a couple of times and make sure you are getting it right, than not ask at all and make a mistake or stress out!
Again, remember you can always seek help online asking a question through the European Youth Portal - local Eurodesk officers will do their best to answer all of your questions!
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