If you are lucky enough to have someone else find your flat for you and to arrange your moving for you, then life will be less painful but many have to do this process themselves, as we did. Before moving to Russia for example, you should spend hours on Google typing in key words like flats, shopping, driving, banks, medical centres etc. There are many dedicated country forums for such things but be very cautious as forums often contain some very strange people on them as countries attract people to them for different reasons and some people on these forums may not be genuine or based in the country you are researching. You may be chatting/communicating with a man in Wales in the UK, who is sitting at his computer in the nude eating an apples pie, he may not actually be a guy called Dmitri, who claims to be twenty three and living in Moscow. Use this forums as a back up resource and send private messages to people that you think are genuine and trust, who can help you with your country questions.
Make sure you have good medical cover insurance and know what a country does and does not have. If you have special medical needs or if your children need special medication, make absolutely sure the country you are moving to has the drugs they need, don't assume they do, this applies to any country. Check for any culture difference that may upset you or make life difficult for you. For example, if you are moving to a strict Muslim country, the culture shock and practices may be too much for you to adapt to. If you worship the god of the giant banana and you are moving to Israel for example, you may find it hard to find your churches to pray in. If you have special eating needs such as you cannot eat snake, then make sure there are chickens in the country that you are going to. I joke of course, but you know what I mean. Research and plan, to avoid headaches later.
Custom regulations are strict to highly annoying in Russia, (See link) so check out what you can or cannot take in. It may be wise to leave behind your late deceased grandmothers Russian Samovar (or even your late deceased grandmother) as the Russians will keep it and don't bring any drugs in hidden up your bottom or up your punani (see link) or you will be found out and sent to prison for a long time to break rocks, like our man
Mikhail Khodorkovsky (see link). If you have any pets, make sure you can get them in and out if the country you may have to leave behind your pet Giraffe as some pets are classed as 'exotic' and may be forbidden. Dogs and cats may need micro chips, this is not a potato chip but an electronic one, that is injected into their neck, it lists, (via an electronic hand held scanner), the vaccinations that have Fido or Scotti have had. Without this, they may be sent home. My wife put one in my neck before we left and I bleep now when ever I pass a supermarket check out till or if I try to escape from home.
Check the climate of your future destination. In Russia for example summers can be baking hot, dry and if in Moscow, very polluted. Winters so far, are cold, although not as cold as they were twenty years ago. If you have a baby, it may be wise to find out what vaccinations are available in your chosen country as they differ from place to place. A vaccination may be available in the UK for example but not available in Moscow Russia. This applies to any vaccination for adults and children. The key is, don't assume anything but expect the worst then you will hopefully be prepared. I have been unable to find blu tak (see link) here so was not fully prepared but no one is perfect, even I am not perfect, although I am almost perfect.
If you are working in your chosen country and not a 'trailing spouse' (see link) then it will be vital that you know the transport links and travel times to and from your office. For example, if you are going to work in Moscow and can afford it, or will be provided with a flat in the centre of town, then travel will be a lot easier, by car or metro. If you plan to live outside the city where the air is cleaner and life is more pleasant, think carefully about your journey into the city. In Moscow, it can take hours to get into and out of the city due to the thick traffic congestion and you may have nervous breakdown stuck in a car for hours. In Moscow, like other big cities, you are damned if you live outside the city and damned if you live inside the city for costs or travel time.
If you are bringing children and they need kindergarten or schools and you don't get any financial help from your employer, then please think very carefully about the cost of education in your chosen country. In Moscow like everything else here, education for foreign ankle bitters is very expensive. Teach them yourself at home or don't educate them at all you will save a lot of money. Think about sending them out to work in a local factory, they will help with living the expenses in your new country.
The more you research and find out, the less likely it is that you will be shocked or unable to adapt and cope with your new destination. Many countries have books for sale that can help you research your chosen expat destination. Books like the 'Lonely Planet' range or books written by expats. In Slovakia, there is 'Easy Bratislava' and in Moscow there is 'Living In Moscow' unfortunately I don't get any commission for mentioning those names but do it to help you dear reader. I think the Internet is the best free resource.
They say money helps and certainly does in Moscow, if you want to live in the centre and want a good life style. Money and planning are key to moving abroad as obvious as it sounds. Good luck and bon voyage.
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