Make your move
Once you have purchased your ticket, spend the time before you leave learning key phrases in your destination’s language, preparing necessary documents and packing.
With American health care costs higher than those in most developed countries, it may be advantageous to choose a local plan at your destination over an international one. (This is a good question to ask on the Facebook groups.) Specific medications may require a prescription from your American doctor, however. Before stocking up on the medicine you need, check the website of the United States Embassy to see if there is a limit on the quantity you are allowed to bring in.
A few weeks before your trip, double-check that you have all the papers you might need for your journey. Does your new place of employment require a background check from your home country? Transcripts? A diploma? Make a checklist of items and cross them off one by one. Speak to your phone company about pausing your mobile wireless plan (then read up on how to get service abroad) and notify your banks of your long-term leave. If you plan on driving, see if there is a driving license exchange program between the United States and your destination country. Otherwise, obtain an international driver’s permit at home to save yourself the hassle of trying to do it overseas.
Lastly, packing for an international trip will require additional savvy. Prioritize what necessities may not be available in your destination country. Amanda Hunter, a 32-year-old black American who has lived in Australia and South Korea, said products that cater to black women can be scarce in certain parts of the world. “There are no options for makeup foundation — even in Australia,” she said. “And here, hair products, braiding materials, hair grease and sleeping bonnets are all very difficult to find.”
Think about the spices, snacks and personal hygiene products you must have — especially if you have a specific brand you must use. Although international deliveries have rapidly developed in the past decade, customs fees and import taxes are a headache you can avoid on some products.
Adjust to life far from home
You’ve arrived at your destination, but now what? In addition to getting a local phone plan and registering for identification, you might need to set up a bank account and find long-term housing. Unless you speak the local language, prioritize an English-speaking bank and remember to ask about remittance fees if you are interested in sending money back to the United States. Hopefully, you will have already done enough research to have an idea of how deposit and rent work at your destination.
While covering the basics, also make time to check in with yourself emotionally, pursue friendships and have fun. “When we ask people why they are unhappy with their lives abroad, they often cite a lack of socialization,” Mr. Zeeck, of InterNations, said. “People are very much concerned with the practicalities of relocating, packing and handling the arrival. You have to do these things, for sure, but the emotional impact of being away can also be very significant.”