Updated: Nov 26, 2019
A lot of people walk around out there with a dream to move abroad. But not that many people actually gets off their buts and does it. I’ve dreamt about moving abroad for many years. I simply needed a change of scenery. I became so tired of the feeling of being stuck with the same people and the same every day life. So when the chance of moving abroad came, I took it! And it was not as hard as I thought it would be!
Here’s how I did it:
Moving abroad might feel like you’re all alone in the world
Finding a job
The main reason to move is for a job, and it was also where I started. I’d decided to move abroad and started to send out my resume to different companies within my field (I just googled “marketing jobs in Barcelona”). I had many interviews, all over the world – some even in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur! Then I actually got offered a job in both Manchester and Barcelona, and it wasn’t honestly a hard choice. So I quickly considered what to do with my stuff and my apartment in Denmark, and said yes to the offer in Barcelona!
OneCowork in Port Vell. I had a meeting here and this view made it pretty hard to concentrate
What about your stuff
I have to admit, I had it easy. My parents live close to my apartment in Copenhagen, and they helped (still do) a lot. I packed all of my stuff in boxes – holy cow, I never knew I had that much shit! The majority is stored in a storage unit, but I also have some stuff at my parents.
Because I own my apartment, I’ve rented it out long term, just in case I ever wanna move back. This can be done through Airbnb, but also through local universities and schools, which are always looking for student accommodation. If you’re just renting a place, it’ll be easier to cancel the lease.
*Psst! If it's your first time renting through Airbnb, book through this link to get 30€ off!
Note: always make sure that your chosen method of renting (both as landlord and tenant) is legal! Airbnb is not legal in all countries.
Okay, so I didn’t bring this with me from Denmark. It’s just a reminder that you can always buy new stuff – like this pretty flamingo floatie
Getting the right papers
This has probably been the hardest part for me. Mostly because I chose to move to Spain. Everyone who has ever lived there, knows that Spanish bureaucracy is a pain in the ass! It’s like they don’t want people to move there, because they sure as hell try to make it as difficult as possible! Don’t let it scare you, it will always be possible 🙂
When moving abroad, always check if you need any Visa or residence permit – this will often be the case if you move in or out of Europe. In most countries, you’ll need a social security number, a local bank account, phone number and some sort of residence permit. Most of the time (not in Spain, because that would be too easy), you can apply for all of this online.
Getting the right papers can be a real struggle. So you might choose to drink your sorrows away like me
Deciding what comes and what stays
Packing for a long or permanent time is always difficult. I didn’t bring all of my furniture and stuff, I rented my apartment out fully furbished. Mainly because I own it and I intend to move back at some point, even though it might be years. For starters I only packed 2 suitcases with all the essentials. I didn’t even bring 1/3 of my clothes.
Every time I go to Denmark for a weekend, I bring back more. It was a good decision to not bring that much, since I have a habit of shopping a bit (a lot). Now I think I have stuff to fill 4 suitcases! If you need help deciding what to pack, take a look at my Ultimate Packing List to get ideas.
Remember your swimsuit and sports gear – I practically live in mine! Here some of my Danish friends are playing volley ball at Barceloneta, as we do almost every weekend.
Finding a place to live
This is actually surprisingly easy. A quick google search will take you to hundreds of pages offering accomodations in your new city. I found my first apartment in Barcelona within just a week of searching!
I used Spotahome, but you need to be careful with some of their landlords, since they can be illegal (It’s Spain). It has to be said, Spotahome works great, and it’s their fault that Spain has many illegal landlords and housing. Although they did nothing to help when I told them about my first illegal landlord. They simply need to do a background check, but all in all you should be safe.
If you’re not too picky, it’ll be really easy to find something – trust me. It’s easier to start off with something for a short period of time. Then when you get there, you can decide if you like it or not, and it’ll always be easier to find something when you’re actually there. I only lived in my first apartment in El Raval for 2,5 months, before I found something better in El Born. And in July I’ll be moving again, because I again found something much better in Barceloneta, by the beach (yay!). We’ve been lucky since it’s through our current landlord (not the illegal one), which made it a lot easier.
I recommend sharing a flat. If you’d asked me before I moved, I would’ve swored that I would never have a flat mate. I don’t want to care and clean after another person – I still don’t. And I will without a doubt live alone again if I move back to Denmark. But in another city it’s nice to have someone around and to have someone you can always hang with.
I recommend staying with someone from your own country, since it’ll just make everything a bit easier. This can be in relation to bank transfers, habits and cultural differences. Just make sure that it’s someone with the same values, boundaries and level of cleanliness as you, so that you don’t end up swearing at your flat mate and their lack thereof. Mutual respect for eachother and eachothers stuff is key, I’ve definitely learned that the hard way!
I’m so lucky to live right around the corner from this beauty – Arc de Triomf
Actually moving abroad
When the moving day comes, it’ll be hard, no doubt. I even cried. And I cried again when I arrived in Barcelona, because it’s a really overwhelming thing to do. Especially if you do it alone, like I did. But suck it up, because great adventures and new experiences awaits! If it all goes to hell, you can always just move back – or even to some place new!
Right after moving into my first flat we threw an awesome bbq party at our rooftop – and I made new friends!
Making new friends
This is probably what most people will think of when moving abroad. How are they gonna make new friends? It’s easier if you move to a city where you already know people, but what if you don’t? I didn’t know a single soul when I moved to Barcelona – and I didn’t speak a word of Spanish or Catalan either! But faith will play a role when you least expect it!
I moved into a shared apartment, and it really saved me. Again – I highly advise you to start with a shared apartment if you don’t know anyone in the city. This way you’ll kind of be forced into getting to know some people. My first flat mate took me under her wings, and introduced me to her group of friends. Which today are all some of my closest friends (thanks Dani). I honestly don’t know what I would have done without her.
Another place to make friends is at work or school, depending on what you’re gonna do here. If that doesn’t work, I’ve made good friends by doing volunteer work and joining Facebook groups. Check the Facebook groups, since it’s very likely that there’ll be one for your nationality living in that city. For example am I a member of “Danes in Barcelona” and “Danish girls in Barcelona”. They’re both great and hosts different events every month, to make sure we can make friends from our own country. You might be thinking you didn’t move here to make friends from your own country. But trust me, it’s really nice to have someone who’s more like yourself. I’m currently trying to find as many Scandinavian friends as possible, because I simply feel like I have more in common with them.
If that’s not enough or doesn’t work, I recommend joining meetups – for example Mundo Lingo. Mundo Lingo is a language exchange meetup and they’re in practically every bigger city in the world. You go there, have a beer and you don’t even have to try, people will come and talk to you all the time. It’s propably one of the easiest ways to make friends.
Some of my friends at my housewarming when I got my first real apartment in Barcelona! Nationalities represented in this photo: France, New Zealand, Argentina, Peru, Netherlands, Kuwait, India, Russia, Cuba, Brazil, England, Finland, Sweden and Denmark
I think this covers the biggest parts and uncertainties of moving abroad. It really isn’t as hard as you might think. It’s definitely one of the best decicions I’ve ever made! I thank myself every day for having given myself this wonderful experience – and I still can’t believe that I live in a country with palm trees and wild parrots in the streets!
The hardest part of living abroad? Missing my family and my dog, without a doubt. And my friends. Luckily they’re only a short flight away. It’s not so scary moving abroad as you’d think! Just get up and do it! It’ll all be okay, I promise!
Don’t be scared! It’ll all be okay in the end, and if it’s not okay, it’s not the end!
This blog post actually came to life while I was flying from Barcelona to Copenhagen, for the millionth time.
Do you have any questions about moving abroad? Are you thinking of doing it? I would love to answer any questions or thoughts you may have! Feel free to shoot me an email or leave a comment below ☺