Five years ago, my husband and I took the difficult decision to leave our country.
Although we both had good jobs and a great career projection in our home country; the insecurity and hyperinflation in Venezuela made us consider the idea of finding a new home in Spain.
This is my experience with the 5 things I learned when I left home to find a new home.
1 - Before departure: research, research & research
It’s easier to spend time researching what your new life will be like while you are still in your home country and you have your work, family and friends close by. Before departure to Spain, we already knew: the paperwork we needed to do, the job market for our careers, the health system, the cost of housing, transportation and goods, amongst other useful data.
One of the biggest fears of moving out was not knowing how things worked in our new destination; luckily, nowadays with the internet access and information availability, this fear can be easily mitigated, saving you a lot of headache, time and money.
2 - Be rational with your expenses and investments
Usually, when the people decide to leave their country of origin, they sell part of their assets or at least guarantee some savings to afford their basic expenses for at least 6 months. Therefore we were very careful with our expenses.
I know it is very tempting to live in a new country and try a new restaurant every couple of weeks, but, if you have moved from your country without a job, you can be several months without a job opportunity; so your main objective should be ensuring your income.
Another mistake is to make significant investments as soon as you arrive in a new country.
In my opinion, you need at least one year to live in your new country to see if it is suitable for you to develop a career path in it, confirm if you can (or not) adapt to the new culture, find an area that is suitable for your lifestyle and understand what are the people of this country value and prioritize.
3 - Don't hold on what you left behind
As soon as we moved from home, as we expected, we missed our families and friends, the food, the language, the culture, and many other things. Other couples in a similar position had clung on Venezuela, surrounding themselves with Venezuelan friends living nearby, cooking just Venezuelan food and watching Venezuelan news on TV. A couple of years later, they still had the same homesickness of the day they had arrived.
The faster you manage to establish new routines and connections with the people of your new country, the sooner you will stop feeling like a foreigner and start feeling at home.
4 - Leave your prejudices behind
While in your country some behaviors may be perceived as distant, in another country it can be seen as respectful. While in your country your outfit may look awesome, in your new home it may be seen as overloaded.
As it is said, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but when you move to a new country this sentence have more sense than ever before. In your new country the rules will be different, the behaviors are going to be different, the language is going to be different (even if it is the same language like it was in my case: Spanish -> Spanish”), the food, the dress codes, the qualifications requested, everything is going to be different. So, leave your prejudices behind, and open your mind to the new experiences, remember "When in Rome, do as the Romans".
5 - You may need to reinvent or switch your career completely
I know that after studying 5 years to get a degree and then 2 more years to complete a masters, nobody wants to put aside their career and dedicate themselves to something else due to the lack of opportunities in their fields.
However, you must understand that your profession may not be required by the labour market of your new country; or in some cases, you will not be able to work in your profession unless you fulfill the country requirements to validate your degree (which may include study more than half of your career again).
Luckily again, my husband and I are both computer engineers, and against all the odds, we both found jobs in our area in less than 2 months. I learnt it is important that you establish deadlines to find a job in your career, and if you can’t find anything, be open to new opportunities in other areas that allow you to get some income while you find the job you studied for.
If you already made up your mind and you are going about to leave your home country, I hope these 5 things I learnt will be helpful for you and everything goes just great for you, as it did for us.
With thanks - this article was written by Elena C. Mata S.