Are you planning on taking a scouting trip before you move? Have you traveled internationally? If not, there will be some new things to get used to. We went on a scouting trip to Margarita Island, Venezuela. It paid off. We decided not to move there.
We learned a lot from that trip. The cost of living was too high, there was too much crime, and fresh produce was both limited and expensive. We were also able to compare that against what we were learning about Ecuador.
In the end, we felt comfortable enough with Ecuador that we didn’t make a scouting trip before we moved.
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.– Benjamin Franklin
Here are 16 things you should do and check on during your expat scouting trip. Some of these are specifically for families (like us 🙂 ). But most apply regardless of the size of your family.
16 Things to Check on Your Expat Scouting Trip
- Check housing availability, quality, and costs.
- Speak with a banker about how to handle your money. See what the laws allow for foreigners.
- Speak with an immigration lawyer to confirm what visa you qualify for and what documents you will need when you relocate.
- If you will be moving with your pet, confirm the laws for importation of animals. Ensure that rentals allow pets. Look into local veterinary services.
- Visit the local supermarket and get an idea of food prices, quality and availability.
- Determine what you can’t get in the country. This will help you plan what to bring and what adjustments are necessary.
- Speak with other expats about challenges they face and how they manage. Some things to ask about could include: climate, culture, costs, health and safety, and transportation. If they also have children, ask about schooling, recreation, and language learning.
- Visit local schools and get a feel for the environment and costs. Try to speak with both local and expat parents of kids enrolled there.
- Learn about healthcare quality and costs. Visit a hospital, doctor's office, and a health insurance provider. Check availability/costs of prescription medications.
- Find things for your kids to do: sports, clubs, culture, and volunteer.
- Learn about the local job market – both for yourself and/or your children in future years. Determine what’s in demand and what skills are needed. Learn about pay and benefit levels.
- Walk a lot. Visit different areas of the city/area during different days of the week and times of day.
- Get to know the locals. Speak to as many as possible to get a true picture of the area and what it’s really like.
- Go shopping at the mall/market. Get an idea of the quality and styles of clothing and footwear. Make sure that you can get your size. Check out the prices of appliances, furniture, and electronics.
- Rent a furnished apartment with a kitchen. This will give you a chance to try local foods and get used to the way locals live. It will be a more realistic experience for your family than hotels and restaurants.
- Try to establish a realistic budget. Learn about power, water, internet, healthcare, schooling, entertainment, clothing, and food expenses.
What would you add? What else should a future expat do on their scouting trip? Or should they even take a scouting trip at all? Please join us in the comments below.