Pack your bags and off you go?! Going to live abroad takes careful planning and preparation

Going abroad: whether you’re setting off for a short trip to study a language abroad or leaving Spain to live abroad more long-term, the adventure begins months before you depart with the preparation at home.

Going to live abroad ranks near the top of many people's bucket list. You might want to live abroad to find your dream job, spend time studying overseas, study a language abroad, find an internship or even finally take that long-awaited break from work. There are many reasons for travelling, sometimes it's personal, sometimes professional, but hey, do you always have to have a reason? No! You might just simply want to live somewhere else for a while.

Every year, thousands of Spanish citizens choose the option to live abroad. Most return at some point, but some depart for good. Outside of Spain, into the adventure. But... hold on! Trips of this kind need to be carefully planned. Moving abroad requires careful planning and preparation well in advance.

Have you thought of everything? Then you’re ready to go and live abroad

Every trip is unique, and so is the preparation. It has been proven time and again that the better you prepare, the smoother everything will go. By the way, going to live abroad or study language abroad isn’t just for people in their twenties, others make the decision much later in life. If your grandma, for example, is fond of travelling then get her to check out Granny Au Pair. Here, families from all over the world are searching for nice grandmas. But regardless of whether you’re young or old, the following applies:

Entry and exit from the country

To enter another country, it is essential to have a valid passport. In some cases, the national identity document may also be used. Some countries require the passport to be valid for at least six months from the date of departure from the country. In any case, always check the expiration date of your passport and renew it if necessary. Also, consider the available pages in your passport in case you need more space for entry and exit stamps from the country.

Zebrabox Tip: Check all documents related to leaving (employment and census) and the new registration. Most companies and municipalities are not very familiar with these procedures.

Here is the complete list of documents and papers you should always have on hand when moving abroad:

  • Passport
  • Entry documents for the country
  • Education and work certificates
  • Notarized copies of official documents (birth and/or marriage certificates)
  • Insurance documentation (health, liability, social, etc.)
  • Contracts (rental, mobile phone, TV subscriptions)
  • Memberships
  • Utility contracts (gas, electricity, water, heating)

Make a copy of your most important documents and store them in the cloud (iCloud, Drive, or Dropbox) for emergency situations. And don't forget to update your mailing address!

Working and living abroad

Moving to live and work abroad is not a decision that can be made overnight. Ideally, you should start planning this new phase in your life a year in advance. Regarding your job, if you have the opportunity to request a leave of absence, it can be an interesting option. Otherwise, you will need to request a medical leave.

If necessary, try to have your diplomas and certificates translated into the local language. You can request notarized copies of your academic certificates from the institution where you obtained them.

Depending on the destination, find out if a special vaccine is required to enter the country, especially if it's a place with limited healthcare services. The recommended lead time for vaccinations is eight months (keep in mind that some vaccines may require multiple doses). Schedule an appointment with your primary care physician if you have any concerns about disease risks in the destination country or any other health-related issues.

What to do with your money abroad?

How will you manage your money when you are abroad? Keep in mind that it's not always possible to maintain your account with a Spanish bank if you're going to live abroad. Ensure you have access to your money at all times and check the expiration date of your credit cards. Also, find out about the fees they charge for foreign transactions, as these fees can increase the cost of using your card while you are away. If you find it convenient, try to explore more cost-effective options.

Zebrabox Tip: Consider adding a notarial proxy with your regular bank. This way, in emergencies when you have no coverage or internet access, your trusted representative can legitimately act on your behalf by transferring money to your credit card, reporting the loss of the card, or requesting a new one.

Health Insurance

If you plan to live abroad for an extended period, it's likely that your current health insurance will expire. In this case, you'll need to obtain health insurance in your host country.

An important aspect not to overlook: if you're traveling outside the European Union for an extended period, consider purchasing travel insurance that covers repatriation and emergency rescue expenses. Often, medical costs abroad can be quite high. On the other hand, if you'll be abroad for a short time, European Union countries offer health insurance for Spanish citizens through the European Health Insurance Card. This card covers medical expenses in case of accidents or illness. If you have any questions, inquire about its operation in your destination country.

Au pair, internships, language study abroad, and volunteering

You can choose short stays abroad for just a few weeks, but what about your accommodation while you're away? Do you want to stay only for a few weeks or months and then return to your regular life? If you don't have your own apartment and live with your parents, it's easy. Your room will probably be there as usual, and you won't have to do anything more. If you rent a room in a shared apartment, or if your parents want to rent out your room while you're away, then you'll need to free up some space. In both cases, a storage unit is the ideal solution.

Everyone who rents must make a decision: give up their apartment or room (usually with a 3-month notice period) or continue renting it. If you can afford to pay rent, possibly in two places (at home and abroad), there should be no problem. But if your plan is to live abroad for an extended period, a little extra income can be very helpful. In this case, subletting can be a good solution.

bye, I’m off!

Planning a trip abroad

Everything you need to know about your stay abroad, and much more, can be found in the compact checklist.