Question #1: Why do you want to move to a new country? Be honest with yourself and check all motives you may have, so that you know for sure you're not "running away" from someone or something, or escaping some relationship or other disagreeable situation. What are your motives? What are your reasons? This is a self-check so that you will be able to enjoy your new life in your new country to the fullest and not have regrets because you left simply as an escape mechanism. Much better to have it be as a desire for new adventures and new experiences that are not available in your current setting. Longing to experience a new culture and people and to see new beautiful sights are great motivations too.
Question #2: What kind of life do you intend to live in your new chosen home? Are you going to be 100% expat and basically have your friendships and activities be with others like yourself who have relocated to the new country? Or are you going to go native? -- or a combination of both? Have you got an open mind to at least learning enough of the language so you can communicate at the grocery store or street markets? Would you like to be able to actually form friendships with the nationals? How integrated do you plan to be?
Question #3: How much stuff do you own and intend to keep? Many people choose to pack nearly everything they own to take to their new place! But how much will it cost to ship? How do you know where you will put it? Will your home be large enough for all the collected "stuff" you've acquired over the years? Most of the homes in third-world, or even the more modern foreign countries, are not nearly as large and spacious as they are in the United States or Canada, for example (the two countries I'm most familiar with.)
Question #4: How long do you plan to live in your new chosen place? Is this a definitive move? Have you already visited for an extended period of time, so you have enough information to make a sensible and wise decision about your future? Have you thought about the considerable cultural adjustments that will undoubtedly be necessary even if the place you're moving to seems to be similar to your home country?
Question #5: Do you plan to keep your current residence, or will you sell it and find a different place if your "abroad" experience comes to an end sooner than you thought it would? This is a decision that everyone of us who have traveled and who have relocated to a new place have to make. Some people want to have a place they can go back to if they have family and friends they wish to see. Some like to spend 3 - 6 months in one country and then head back to their familiar home. If you decide to keep your home, you will also have to decide if you're going to close it up and leave it unoccupied, or if you're going to rent it out and store your personal items. If you make that decision before you move, it will save you money in the long run regarding extra travel costs and/or storage fees.
How many of these would you need? What could you easily replace? How long are you planning to stay abroad? Will those belongings still be important to you? Do you have particular emotional ties to the things in storage? Will your belongings be outdated? Where did they come from? Were they all made in the USA or wherever your home country is? If you plan to stay abroad for 5 to 10 years and then return, how much will you have paid in storage fees?
Question #6: Do you have support from those closest to you for the decision to move abroad? If not, how will you handle their objections? Not everyone I'm related to thought it was a great idea to move abroad. In fact, a couple siblings expressed the thought that they felt like I was turning my back on my family to pursue selfish wishes. Silly me! At the age of 42 I thought I probably could make those kinds of decisions on my own. But all kidding aside, it's important to have support from those who know and love you. They may not agree with your "dumb" decision, so it would be great if you could explain to them your desires for adventure, or a new life, a less expensive way of life, and whatever other things figure in your decision. They may not end up agreeing 100%, but at least they will know you listened to them and tried to understand and explain your desire for the move.
Question #7: How do you plan to sustain yourself in the economy of your chosen country? If you are retiring and moving abroad, then you will need to do your homework and know how you're going to get your money to your pocket from your bank account! It's not always as easy as you thought it would be. Where we live now, there are basically 4 places where, if you don't have a bank account in this country, you can withdraw money in the local currency. You cannot get US dollars anywhere -- only the local currency.
At each of these 4 locations, you have to pay exchange fees that are deducted from your bank in the USA for example. The local bank or ATM also charges you a fee. You need to know these things. In some countries, you will have to pay taxes on your income no matter where it comes from, but in other countries only on what you earn in that country not your home country. Do you work online? Then you have to be sure the speeds are sufficient to sustain what you do. This is a huge issue in many places! People may tell you the Internet is great because all they do is email. But if you work online it may not be enough. Find out before you are too sorry and your method of income disappears!
Question #8: What is your plan B if the situation in your chosen country changes? Do you have a place to relocate to? Did you keep your house and you can go back to it? Do you have an alternate place you could head to if your first choice doesn't work out? If you work out these things before you move, it will save you lots of heartache and headaches if such a situation occurs. You won't feel so lost and you won't feel like you made the biggest mistake in the world by moving abroad.
These are 8 of the most important questions you must ask AND get answers to before moving abroad! If you don't ask them, and you don't know what the answers are, your experience will be significantly compromised. Make the most of your new life! BE INFORMED! Living Abroad and Loving It is based on being informed so you can enjoy and truly love your living abroad experience.