If you’re planning an international move as a result of either a corporate relocation, or simply because you’ve been bitten by a travel bug, it is overwhelming. Finding a home always has an element of stress to it, but searching for a home in a foreign culture adds to that with a plethora of elements you may not be aware of.
It is similar to buying a home in general, with two major differences: first, you may not have been planning to move, and this one needs to happen fairly quickly. Second, you may know little or nothing about the city or country to which you are relocating.
In both cases you’ll find yourself doing more research for your international relocation than you would with a normal move, and may have to ask some questions that would otherwise seem obvious.
Renting is an attractive option when first moving to a foreign destination, simply because you don’t know how long you’ll want to stay there. Once you’ve spent some time in your new city, you may decide that your lifestyle is better suited to a different neighborhood or location.
Also, if you’re planning to travel a lot, your monthly rent may be lower than mortgage payments, and you may be responsible for less, or even no, home maintenance. When you decide it’s time to move on, or come home, there is no pressure to sell your home before moving on. However, if your international relocation will last more than a few years, buying a home could be a better investment. There are some cities where renting is so difficult or expensive that buying really is a much better – and cheaper – option in the long term.
Culturally, there may be an option that people from the country you’re moving to prefer – for instance, only 43% of the Swiss own their own homes, according to EuroStat. Do upfront research to know what expectations you’ll encounter in your new country.
When you’re moving within the same city, or even the same state, traffic patterns are easy enough to figure out. When it comes to moving to a foreign city, you’ll want to do some more granular research into what it’s like to commute to and from your new workplace. One of the best places to start? Ask other employees who live in the area.
Traffic and general commuting time will be a big factor in choosing where you’ll live, and if you’ll need to purchase a car or can rely on public transportation.
As with traffic, public transportation options in a new city are something you may know little about when moving internationally. Fortunately, there will be a plethora of resources to help you, as all cities with usable public transportation will have an official website linking to the options available to you.
If you’re not moving abroad for work, you may be looking for a way to fund your life in a new city, and travels around the globe. There are many companies that now offer flexible work options and telecommuting – your current company may be willing to work with you, or if not, there are websites, like FlexJobs, that can help you find companies that are looking for remote workers.
The ability to telecommute also mitigates some of the tradeoffs you may be making on traffic and public transportation in your new city.
You’ll want to do research through friends, connections and expatriate blogs about ways to balance family life in a new city. For parents, finding schools will be one of the biggest concerns, and may even dictate what home you choose. For many, it may also be a choice between city life with children, and a more suburban choice.
There are plenty of calculators that evaluate how far your salary can go in a new city. This cost of living calculator from Expatisan, a source for data and tools for moving abroad, lets you compare the percentage differences between key expenses.
Moving internationally? Feel free to contact us for a quote on international moving services, from packing to shipping and storage.