I have lived in the US for 497 days and lived in Los Angeles for 457 days. The decision to move to the US didn’t happen overnight. It built up for many years, and only after a series of life lessons did I feel it was the right thing to do.
My leap of faith to leave Toronto, where I was born and raised, has seemingly inspired other people. On numerous occasions, I have been asked how I found the courage to leave my home and what steps I took to make it a reality. Even friends have told me they have been inspired and want to know how to move countries too. That’s why I wanted to write this article – inspire people I know who are curious and even to inform strangers that need that little push to just do it. I understand that right now, we’re going through a pandemic, so it might not be that simple for many people. But it’s still possible to move! If not countries, even move elsewhere in one’s own country – say from Toronto to Vancouver.
Before I get into what you need to know if you want to move country, full disclaimer. I hold a permanent resident card for the US, which opened up opportunities for me to move. Unfortunately, US residence is hard to come by. However, if you’re Canadian, there are still various options for you to explore, such as working holiday visas. If that’s not your jam, you can also apply to jobs in countries you want to live in, as some companies pay for sponsorship.
With that out of the way, here’s what you came for.
5 Things You Must do to Decide if You Want to Move Countries
1. Take Quizzes
I didn’t always want to live in LA. Other places came to mind first: Vancouver, Dublin, Berlin, and New York. But after taking random quizzes online that match participants with a city, Los Angeles and San Francisco came up frequently. Sure, these quizzes are mostly just for fun, but they still pointed me in a direction worth exploring. Quiz results explain the pros and cons of a city, which provides knowledge to make an educated decision about moving.
2. Watch YouTube Videos and Read Reddit
If you have not visited the city or country you want to move to, watch or read about it. Watch videos, such as from YouTuber The World According to Briggs, and read your city/country subreddits. The most helpful videos from that channel are ones like “10 Places to Live in California.”
For me, I frequently searched questions about moving and ex-pat experiences to r/asklosangeles. The information you can find on YouTube and Reddit usually come from locals or people who have lived in those cities, so their information is trustworthy. A little bit of advice when it comes to Reddit, you will see a lot of cynicism from locals that are stressed out about their city and turn to Reddit to vent. There may be truth in their words. But do try and stay positive, and do not let their negative energy kill your vibe.
3. Visit to Get a Feel
Visiting other countries and cities may be difficult right now. However, you might have visited the cities and countries previously and you can probably attest that visiting a city gives you an idea of how a city feels. The sights, smells, and sounds of a city really come alive in 3D. There’s a vibe that grows that you just cannot feel from watching YouTube videos or reading Reddit posts. If you absolutely cannot visit and are itching to understand a city, try Google Earth! Though, I would not recommend moving to another city without visiting first.
4. Scope the Job and Housing Market
It would be really foolish to move to another country without understanding the job and housing market relevant to you. If you are in technology, it makes sense to move to San Francisco or Austin, where technology jobs are booming. But it would not make sense to move to Detroit – okay, maybe that’s a crappy example, but I hope you get the idea. Scope out your career prospects and how much housing will cost relative to your work experience to guarantee that it is a smart move. For example, someone newly out of school may not do as well moving to San Francisco, where the average cost of rent is $3,000 USD for a 739 square foot apartment, and the average salary is $99k USD. Unless you are okay living with seven roommates in a 3-bedroom house. Be smart with how your move aligns with your career experience and your finances. I would have never chosen LA without my nine years of experience in communication.
5. Ask Friends and Family
There is honesty and trust you get from friends and family that you just do not get from strangers on the Internet. Tap into your network to see who has lived, worked, or visited where you want to move. Ask them for their honest opinion and if they think it would be a good idea for you. I asked my cousin, who I consider almost like a big brother if he thought LA would look good on me. He told me he utterly hates LA but thinks I would like it – and I trust his insight. Then I asked a few friends from high school who now live in LA, and they glowed up about LA and explained that I will love it. In all honesty, some friends and family will be skeptical of your move and will share their opinions with you. A few people I told that I was moving to LA said I would have a really hard time there. How LA is really competitive and scoffed about me finding a job. Most of the time these types of people operate off of their own insecurities. Laugh it off and thank them for their opinion and continue moving forward.
So, there you have it, 5 things you must do before deciding if you want to move countries. Making the decision is the first step, and it’s really hard to even get to that point. The next thing you have to do is, well, MOVE! Moving requires a lot of attention (and stress), so I’m going to dedicate a whole article to that.