Living abroad is a strange experience. It’s like restarting life all over again with the experiences you have. I restarted life in 4 countries. It is not an easy decision, but you grow so much as a person. Here are some tips before moving abroad.
3 Soft Skills to Master Before Moving Abroad
Freedom & Time Management
It’s like fire; you have to learn how to manage it yourself. The newfound freedom will feel like a long lost treasure you’ve been searching for your whole life, and sometimes you may go overboard. Remember that every action has a consequence; and with this new found freedom, you tend to take actions without considering anything. Sometimes, it also gives you too much fun that you get addicted to it and this is dangerous because you will deviate away from what your original plan was.
Learn How to Budget
I am very fortunate that before I started living abroad, I read an article and had a talk with a friend. The article is by Mr Li Ka-Shing. The gist is that you should always split your money into 5 portions;
- 30% (for living expenses like normal food, transport, utilities, etc)
- 20% (for social expense like going out with friends)
- 15% (to learn. buy books, read, keep learning something new. go for classes)
- 10% (for your holiday)
- 25% (invest).
My pay was very little. HK$5000. That’s the money I have for a month, which has to include rental, utilities, living, social, etc. It was very very very little. Housing was very expensive. As such, I changed my savings; I saved 50% and spent the rest carefully; no shopping, rarely eating out, etc. Some months are tough, but I did it!
At the end of everything, I managed to save enough money to cover my rental. I also managed to travel (Taiwan, China, Korea, Singapore), have fun (house parties, camping, hiking) and did many things. So I’m thankful that I managed to plan my finances before I started.
Make A Pre-Moving Plan
Think about what you want to get out of this. To experience the culture, to be independent, to find friends, to find a partner, to go crazy and have fun, to teach by volunteering? There are endless possibilities of what you can get out of this experience, so think before you go. My plan was to immerse in the culture and to step out of my comfort zone. Which was what I did and I had a hell of a great time!
Make a to-do list. Not exactly a day-to-day plan or weekly plan, but roughly where you want to go, what you want to do and what you want to eat. Having a bucket list helps you to know what you want out of this experience and track how you spend your time. You don’t have to do them all! But it’s helpful to know what you can do when you have free time.
Admin Tips Before Moving Abroad
- Invest in a good camera. Or probably just get a good phone. People do not last forever, but memories do. I often like to capture the good times cause these moments are hard to come by.
- Always carry something that has your identity on it.
- Register with your local foreign ministry before leaving. Register here at Ministry of Foreign Affairs for Singaporeans.
- Get yourself a travel insurance.
- Know where you can find food or drinks 24/7. It’s tougher to find places like that in small towns of Europe.
- If possible, live in the city centre. The time & cost saved on transportation are worth it.
- Do not think you’re a traveller or a foreigner. You are now a local immersing in the culture.
- Call your family once in a while. They miss you!
- Life’s short. Do crazy and stupid things.
- Hold your values. Just because people smoke cigarettes doesn’t mean you should too!
- Money is money. It does not define happiness or what not. Money should be spent, but it should not be splurged on useless things.
- You can run, but you can never escape from reality: why are you living abroad? To escape reality? Running away will never solve the problem.
- Respect. People, culture, the community.
- You are responsible for yourself, your life, your actions, your plans. No one will babysit you. If you fall, pick yourself up. Look out for yourself. Daddy and mummy are not going to hold your hands and walk with you. If you can be responsible for yourself, you can be ready for the world.
Know The Country
- Know the weather. Hong Kong has 4 seasons and when it’s cold, it’s surprisingly cold. But when it’s hot, it’s humid and uncomfortable.
- Prepare for the weather – clothes, umbrella, raincoats, windbreaker, etc.
- Watch sunrises and sunsets.
- Learn games from another country.