10 Things Women Should Ask Themselves Before Moving Overseas

10 things women should ask themselves before moving overseas
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Motivators for women to gain international experience include career development.
Motivators for women to gain international experience include career development.

It seems us ladies are keen to go global. This International Women’s Day, pwc’s report Moving Women with Purpose released exciting statistics – 71% of female millennials want overseas career experience*. That’s a lot of us with serious wanderlust. Other motivators to take the plunge overseas can be very personal; career experience, family or friendship ties, lifestyle aspirations, or simply a sense of adventure.

Living overseas is life changing. If you return home (let’s face it, some of us discover that home is in fact, elsewhere) – you’ll never be the same. You’ll see the world, and people, differently. You’ll develop resilience and adaptability. The immersion into a different culture is exhilarating. There will be a period of self-discovery and independence that you will have no choice but to explore. The experience will be character building, confronting. But, many would argue, living overseas is seldom something to regret.

Fresh out of uni in 1998, I set flight on a big bird to the Big Apple. Yes, I imagined sipping on a Cosmo with Carrie. The reality was quite different. I knew no-one, wasn’t paid for a month and was clueless about pretty much everything. The evenings were lonely and days confusing whilst I unravelled a new system and worked out how to feel at home.

A few more moves ahead, there are 10 things I always asked myself before making a move:

1. Read page 2

As the saying goes “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine. So, the first task is to spin the globe. Ok – perhaps a tad flippant, Most who set their sights on moving abroad will have a yearning in mind – for cultural or language immersion, access to travel opportunities, to stretch themselves personally and/or professionally. Whether Moscow or Madrid, London or LA, each will have their own draw. Consider the career opportunities, cost of living, and the scale of resilience needed to adjust – Auckland versus Abu Dhabi, for example.

2. Dollars and sense

No cash, no choices. There will be the cost of the move itself –flights, accommodation. Then consider the period you won’t have an income – if you’re moving with work, you may take a break. If not, finding a job takes time. Make sure you are clear on the cost of living in your new country – this will vary widely, consider your current spend and research carefully about costs in the new country.

3. Work it, baby

Career will be first consideration – how will you make money? What are my skills worth in the country I want to move to? Evaluate how in demand they might be, how to write your CV to suit the market. If the chance to move with your current company arises, how does this fit in with your overall career plan? Whilst moving abroad is enticing, ensuring that it contributes to an overall career strategy is key.

4. Entry permitting

The matter of legal right to live and work in your country of choice can’t be overlooked. Quite simply, leave it to a migration expert. If you’re lucky enough to move with work, this should be taken care of by your employer. Note that visa processing times vary widely and is a complex business, so do seek expert advice.

5. Happy families

Leaving behind family and friends is always a sad affair. Skype and Facebook makes it so much easier than it would otherwise be, and so do relatively cheap flights to most corners of the world. Going it alone can be daunting yet thrilling – there will be periods of loneliness and stretching outside of your comfort zone to mix within new circles. If you have a partner, ensure their career needs can be satisfied. Young children, for the most part, settle when they feel safe, assured and know what’s on the horizon - they will be happy when you are happy.


The fear of missing out. Weddings, birthdays, reunions, Christmases, celebrations... Life will go on without you – and it will not be the same when you return. All of these life experiences will change everyone. At the same time, you’ll be forging memories in your life that can’t be shared in person with people back home. It’s worth thinking about how you will deal with this.

7. Hopes and dreams

Consider both personal and professional. Moving for the sake of geography and at the expense of career goals and your bank balance might be considered travel rather than moving. Can the move sustain the career path you have planned? What experiences do you want to achieve in your new life? How will they help you meet your overall life goals?

8. Great expectations

Setting the right expectations is a crucial part of any life change. Excitement and enthusiasm will at times be matched by loneliness and discomfort. Be prepared that, at times, it might not be how you imagined – you cannot plan for everything, and there will be a rollercoaster element to the experience. All part of the fun.

9. Work it

Work the plan. Balancing a tight budget and logistics requires organisation. Crystallising all of your thoughts into a plan can take time – the visa, finances, exploring avenues with work, researching job opportunities, network building. Careful planning is a worth the investment in time and effort.

10. Wants, needs, must-haves and compromises

Really think - what kind of life do I really want? Will this move be a one-time only, or a stepping stone to a longer stint overseas? What lifestyle do I want? Do I want an improvement or am I willing to be out of my comfort zone to achieve other lifestyle goals? I.e. live in shoebox in Manhattan to be in the bustle, or sacrifice the lifestyle to have a large place in the suburbs.

This article was originally published in Latte Magazine, published by Business Chicks

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