Preparing for Life as an Expat
My story begins with years of conversations regarding making a mass exodus from the United States. Many within my social circles and think tanks discussed living outside of the good ole US of A. Several of these conversations were anchored in grandeur while others had a plan of action. My notion, of leaving the US, fell somewhere in between until the early part of 2012. After a stimulating conversation with temporary worker at my then place of employment, she armed me with concrete contacts and names of placement agencies for my field of work. Shortly thereafter, on a whim, I inquired about the available positions and my life began to change dramatically.
Living abroad seems easy enough right? Yes. However, there are long processes that you must endure to have a successful transition. One of the most important pieces of the process includes finding an employment agency with years of experience with placement within your respective field. This company should have a solid reputation. Scour the Internet, including message boards and social media to chat with real people who have used your agency of choice. Doing your homework regarding agencies will save a wealth of time and unnecessary issues.
After chatting with two to three agencies, decide on which will align with your goals and desired location. Please note, most agencies do not charge fees and should cover your Visa costs. If not, please find another agency.
In short, here’s a list of things to do before exiting your home country;
- Research two to three employment/placement agencies
- Chat with actual people who have used the said agency. Do not rely on testimonies from the companies website.
- Visit message boards and social media
- Check the respective embassy site for education and health requirements. Specific ailments, illnesses, and diseases are not allowed in certain countries. You will endure a comprehensive health check upon arrival.
- Begin to save money. There are a lot of expenses that are not covered by the placement agency such as; authenticated documents, packing/moving/storage, health screenings, and additional baggage fees.
- Study the culture of the desired country.
- Expect slow processes regarding processing. The US is one of a few countries that maintain a sense of urgency. This is not common worldwide.
Living abroad is a life enriching experience that will enhance who you are, define character, and yield experiences that can’t be explained.
Currently, I live in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE). The UAE is in the Middle East. It is situated west of Saudi Arabia, south of the Arabian Gulf, and east of Oman.