Moving to another country is a big decision. There are some major points to consider before moving and some steps to take once you’ve made your decision. My road to Japan was a long one, at least 3 years, but I never gave up and never lost my motivation to create a once-in-a-lifetime experience for myself.
You should research where you intend to move before anything else. First ask yourself a lot of questions. Then find the answers. Look deep into your soul for some of these!
Some questions about your target country:
- Do I know anything about the history and culture?
- Do I know the language?
- What is the weather like?
- Is the place safe?
- Will I be able to by x easily?
- Will I be able to find a job?
- What are the downsides?
Some questions about yourself:
- Can I handle being alone and away from family?
- Am I ready to be out of my comfort zone?
- Am I resourceful and flexible enough to handle any bumps in the road?
- Am I open to new ideas, experiences and ways-of-life?
Remember, there is no “perfect” place in the entire world so weigh out the pros and cons and decide for yourself if where you want to go is the right place for you.
I had been interested in Japan for several years before deciding to move here. I watched Japanese anime and films, read Japanese newspapers and blogs, and even visited a couple of times. I had a decent gauge of Japan’s good side and bad side. The more important questions I had to ask were the ones about my own confidence.
So you’ve decided to be brave and venture out into the unknown. Hopefully you’ve found a job, or a school to attend, or something that solidifies your decision to move. Great, let’s move on to the next steps.
Quit Your Job
This is physically easy as it only takes a few minutes to type up a resignation letter and hand it over to your boss, but this can be emotionally challenging depending on your level of attachment to your workplace. Also, timing is crucial. You should give at least the standard two-week notice, and try not to burn any bridges on your way out.
I loved my job. It was my first “real” job out of university and it allowed me to grow both professionally and personally. I was extremely close with my boss, so I won’t lie—I cried like a baby when I turned in my resignation letter. (Not the most professional attitude, I know.) The day after I found out that I would be moving, I gave my notice. That gave me only 13 days to complete the next steps.
Sell/Donate/Store/Pack Up Your Entire Life
Heed my advice: Do not wait until the last minute to complete this step. I thought I had everything planned out. Put into boxes all of the stuff I wanted to store, put into suitcases all of the necessities I wanted to bring, and sell or donate the rest. Unfortunately, all of these ideas took longer than anticipated.
First up was taking out of my apartment what I wanted to keep. Thankfully my parents and grandparents had some extra closest space, so that’s where it all went. Next I tried to sell the furniture and electronics. When I only had 4 days left before having to board a plane, I gave up on selling that old iPod Color for twenty dollars and donated everything left to GoodWill. Last, but not least I had to organize the suitcases. Thomas and I were allotted two checked bags and one carry-on each. 6 suitcases sounds like a lot…until you try to pack your life in them. My bags were full of clothes and a few cute kitchen supplies I didn’t want to part with. Thomas’s bags had clothes, hard drives, and a PS3: just the necessities. Special shootout to my mom and sister for helping us cram it all in, even at midnight the night before our departure!
Say Your Goodbyes
Do you want one big going-away bash or do you want to spread your goodbyes out over a few days? Either way, do not skip this step. Even in the rush to get everything prepared for your departure, don’t forget about the people you are leaving behind.
I said my goodbyes over a few dinners with friends and family. There just wasn’t time for a huge Pinterest-inspired going-away party (unfortunately). And because packing basically consumed me, there just wasn’t enough easy-going “hang-out” time. This is my biggest regret when looking back. If only I could of had ONE more day!
Beyond the hectic move awaited an exciting adventure and a new chapter in my life. Nothing a few days of stress would diminish. So are you thinking about making a big change in your life? If so, do your research, close up any lose ends and head off into the sunset.