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So, you think you’re ready to take your long-distance relationship to the next step? Moving abroad, in and of itself, is a big decision, never mind when you are moving abroad in the name of love. Love can make us irrational, so it’s essential to have a clear head and to be honest with ourselves and our significant other.
My closest friends and family know that moving to France was not an easy decision for me to make. Jonathan and I talked through these questions before I made that leap of faith. At the end of the day, as prepared as you might be, it is still a major leap of faith.
Why are you moving abroad?
This might seem like a question with an obvious answer, but it goes deeper than that! Of course, the main reason you’re contemplating this move in the first place is to close the distance in that long-distance relationship. Other than being with your partner though, what’s in it for you? Maybe you enjoy the culture of the country you are going to or you love to travel in general and this will offer you an opportunity to check off a bucket list item.
If the only draw and the only positive you can see to moving to another country is being with your partner, I wonder if you will feel resentful at some point in time when that love is no longer enough. When the going gets tough and the challenges of expat life loom over you, you need motivation to keep going. Consider your mindset and sense of purpose going into this move. What goals, objectives, and plans can you set for yourself that revolve solely around you and will help keep you grounded?
Would your partner relocate for you?
Asking a significant other to move abroad and away from the comforts of everything they know is a really BIG ask. What if the roles were reversed… does your partner genuinely understand what it is they are asking you to do? Have they truly imagined it and thought it over? It’s easy to say yes when love is clouding our vision.
Have you ever been to that country?
What do you know about that country and its culture and language? Have you ever spent time there? Do you know what it is really like? How different is that culture from your own? Many people underestimate culture shock and the flurry of emotions that arise from being in a new environment. If possible, it would be beneficial to spend some time in the country where you will be moving to so that you can get a feel for what life is like there.
People regularly dream of living abroad but don’t often realize that visiting someplace is quite different than actually living there. A temporary visit still isn’t going to give you the same insight as a permanent move, but it would certainly be better than never having set foot in that country at all. This could also be a great time to meet the friends and family of your partner if you haven’t had the chance yet.
Are you open-minded?
Even if you are already familiar with the language and culture, you are going to come across things that are new and different to you. Will you be able to find the beauty in it or will you be frustrated that things aren’t exactly the way they are back home? It’s ok to notice differences around you, but this question speaks to how you react to those differences.
Spoiler alert: It’s actually ok for you to be frustrated with how things work (or don’t work 😅) AND also appreciate that you have this cool opportunity in front of you, as long as those feelings of frustration aren’t all-encompassing.
What’s the long-term plan?
Is this a permanent move? Will you ever move back to your home country? Are children part of the picture? You don’t have to be completely sure of all the answers, but it’s important to determine if you are both visualizing a similar future. The further you can map out your life with some certainty, the better.
Naturally, these are things we should be discussing in all romantic relationships, but sometimes we shy away from certain topics because it’s “too soon.” If you’re considering moving to another country for someone, no topic should be taboo!
What’s your backup plan?
What if the romance dies? What if you need to break up? Plan as we might, life is unpredictable and it’s impossible to know what the future holds in store.
What if something happens to your partner after you’ve moved abroad? No one wants to imagine this kind of “what if.” This was by far the most insanely adult conversation that I have ever had in my entire life. However, it was essential to consider different scenarios because I would be far away from my usual support system of friends and family.
Can you afford the expense of moving abroad?
Moving abroad is a great privilege and comes at a great expense that often amounts to more than the tickets for travel and the move itself. While in the research phase, you are bound to come across obvious costs associated with visas and bureaucracy, including document request fees, translation fees, paperwork filing fees, etc. However, there are also many hidden costs that you might not be aware of yet, so it’s a good idea to have some extra money set aside for things that you haven’t factored into your budget.
Keep in mind that if you’re moving before you have a job lined up, it might be hard to determine when you’ll find a job, especially when taking into account language skills or specialized degrees depending on your line of work. Do you have enough savings to support yourself during that transition time? Will your partner be able to support you? Is your partner ok with the financial burden that might arise? Are you ok with being financially dependent on your partner?
What about your career?
Depending on what stage of life you are at, you may have invested time and money into various experiences and educational programs to advance your career. Will you be able to continue your current line of work where you are going or will you need to put your career on hold? Will your expertise be valued in your new country or will you need to seek out more qualifications, like knowing the language?
Perhaps this could be an opportunity to reinvent yourself and start something new. Going from being a French teacher to an expat blogger was something that I had never expected for myself!
What about your friends and family?
Are you ready to be in long-distance relationships with friends and family “back home?” As you already know from being in a long-distance relationship, you can’t be everywhere at once. No matter what, you will miss out on important events, milestones, and holidays. Have you realistically thought about how often you will visit them, and are you ok with that?
How will you make new friends?
It’s important to create a social life of your own. If you plan on working in an office or attending classes at a university, meeting new people might happen organically. Luckily in our global society, there are many opportunities for finding friendships outside of work and school as well.
Seek out sports facilities, clubs, and volunteer programs ahead of time. Take a look at Meetup to find social groups based on your interests. Facebook is also a great place to find people, particularly groups of anglophones and/or expats, in your area. Take into consideration your opportunities for social interactions when looking ahead to your new home.
What are your non-negotiables?
Moving abroad can be very challenging. With all the changes that you will face, you need to find ways to make the transition smoother. Consider the aspects of your life that are most important to you and determine what can be carried over to give you control and ownership over your circumstances abroad. This is a very open-ended subject. What do you need in life to feel grounded?
Do you need to live in a city or do you want a house in the country? Is it super important that you find a job before you move so that you can feel independent? Do you want to be able to take time off of work so that you can navigate administration and cultivate social circles? Essentially, what would make this move more manageable?
Are you ready for the biggest adventure of your life?
Let’s not forget how exciting this decision is!! If you have an open mind about building a life in a new country and you’ve been honest about your answers to these questions, moving abroad can be an amazing and worthwhile experience. Not everyone gets the opportunity to embark on this kind of life-changing journey. And you’re moving for love. How romantic is that? Did I tell you how Jonathan and I met?
A final note on moving abroad for love:
When considering something as monumental as uprooting your life, especially for someone else, there is no room for assumptions. Lay it all out on the table: your hopes and your dreams, your needs, your wants, and your non-negotiables. Ask the tough questions. These are the kind of big conversations that have the potential to make your relationship even stronger than you ever imagined.
What do you think is the most important thing to consider before moving abroad for your partner?