Things to Consider When Relocating
When our attempted move from Thailand to Taiwan turned into an epic fail, we tried to figure out why. Our initial relocation to Thailand had gone off smoothly as well as my move to Seoul years ago before I was married. Now that we’re evaluating our month in Taiwan, we clearly see a few areas that we should have considered months before moving to ensure a smooth relocation. Here’s a few important things to consider when relocating to another country:
1. Do your Paperwork from your Home Country
With English teaching positions and most other jobs, employers and recruiters will require quite a few documents from you before considering your application. From home, you can easily get degrees notarized, criminal background checks, unabridged marriage certificates and necessary documents certified. Most of these are a nightmare to attempt while outside your country, so be sure to check the requirements of the country you are moving to; strongly consider going home first to sort out the paperwork.
As a South African, visas are not as easy to obtain as they are for Americans, Canadians, British or Australians. But even so, applying for a visa and/or a job from your home country could make the world of difference. With Taiwan, everyone has to apply for a tourist visa first. If we had applied from South Africa instead of a consulate in Bangkok, we would have received a 60 day visa instead of a 30 day visa with no extension. This proved to be a problem because we could not get an ARC (Alien Registration Card) and work permit sorted in that short of a time.
There’s only one thing more important than work permits and visas: your passport. Without it, you are going nowhere and without enough blank pages, you’re just as good as deported. Check how many pages you’ll require entering the country and don’t forget to factor in an entire page for different visas. If you’re outside your home country, consider applying for a new passport months in advance–depending on the country, this process can take up to six months. My passport with a sad single blank page meant that I would not be able to do a visa run to Hong Kong and return with only one free page.
You need to carefully weigh up the options of either securing a job before arriving or finding one once you’re in a place you really like. If you find a job before going, you may end up in an average place you don’t necessarily like, but you’re almost guaranteed a hassle-free transition. Many people encouraged us to explore the country first and job hunt once we found our happy place. In search of the East coast’s waves and with a strong desire to avoid the big, polluted cities, we tried just that. What we didn’t consider was how expensive this option can be. This brings me to…
5. Start-up Costs
Estimating the amount of money you will need to rent an apartment, hire a scooter/car, and survive on until your first pay check is crucial in ensuring you don’t run out of money. Do a thorough analysis of living costs in your new country and figure out whether you can afford it. We totally underestimated just how much more expensive Taiwan was in comparison to Thailand and spent all our savings staying in ‘cheap’ hotels/hostels while trying to find jobs and an apartment.