Thinking Of Immigrating? 8 Things You Should Know

November 18, 2009

Thinking of immigrating to Australia, Canada, or anywhere else in the world? People have been immigrating successfully for decades. But before you buy your plane ticket, there are 20 things you should know, so you can decide if immigrating would be right for you and make sure you immigrate to the right place.

1. Don’t Put Your Life On Hold: I seriously began to consider immigrating almost two years ago. And because I thought the process would be quick, I more or less put my life on hold. Don’t make the same mistake. The research process can be long and in some cases it can take years to get a visa.

2. Don’t Leave Your Brain Behind: This might seem kind of obvious but I’ve read so many stories about failed immigrants who left their brain in their country of origin.

I read about one family who immigrated to Canada and bought land to build a house. Then 8 months later they had to go home, because they’d failed to secure jobs and ran out of cash. Their mistake could have been avoided if they’d:

A) Done some research into the job market, Canadianized their CV’s, got some Canadian experience in lower paid jobs and networked.

B) Kept hold of their spare cash and rented until they were more financially secure.

3. Be Realistic:
Before deciding where you want to live, think seriously about the lifestyle you want. Living on a small farm in the middle of nowhere might sound romantic. But if you have children, they might be happier living near decent schools and leisure activities, as opposed to cleaning pig swill and chopping the heads off chickens.

And, if you’re looking to escape the rat race but you’re immigrating to a large city in another country, you might become the same rat in a different trap.

If you’re not sure where you’d like to live, these resources might be useful:

The Cheapest Places To Live In The World: $500 a month.

10 Best Places To Live For Escaping World Conflict
The World’s Best Places To Live 2009
The World’s Happiest Places
World Capitals Of The Future

4. Cheap Isn’t Always Best: When you first consider immigrating to another country, it’s easy to be seduced by relatively cheap housing but do your research carefully. Housing is often cheaper in an area with poor schools, high unemployment and low wages. And you could find yourself doing a 2 hour commute, just to get a decent job.

5. Research, Research, Research: Obviously, you want to immigrate to somewhere that is right for you. Trouble is, when you’re freezing your ass off, it’s easy to dream about living in a hot climate. But the reality might not match the dream. Lying in the hot sun is one thing – but working in it is a whole different story.

It’s helpful to make a list of the things you liked and disliked in the places you’ve lived. Then turn the negatives into positives, to figure out what you really want.

For example:

Didn’t like living on a busy street – noise and safety issues.

Want to live in a quiet area, with little traffic.

Hated the humidity.

Want to live in a dry climate.

It was a depressed area. Few career opportunities.

Want to live in a growing area with lots of opportunities.

Also, try to think in terms of areas, as opposed to whole countries. Places like Canada, Australia and America are huge but Alaska would give you a completely different lifestyle to California.

6. Don’t Blame The Country When You Screw Up: Nowhere is paradise and when things go wrong, it’s easy to blame the country. But life is full of challenges, no matter where you live.

I spent a lot of time checking out forums, where folk want to move back to their country of origin. Many of them dislike just about everything about their new country, blaming it for every little problem they’ve had. But when I checked out their old pre-immigration posts, they thought their country of origin was shit too.

7. If You’re Not Accepting Of Other Cultures Think Seriously About Where You’ll Fit In:
On one forum I’ve been checking out regularly, a shocking number of people want to immigrate to another country, from the UK because they think their own country is being taken over by immigrants.

I think it’s kind of hypocritical and I have to wonder how well they’re going to settle into their new countries, especially as many of them have chosen to immigrate to multi-cultural cities.

8. Don’t Give Up: Before you give up on a country because you don’t meet the visa requirements, explore every avenue. And suss out what you’ll need to do to meet the visa requirements for that country.

I had almost given up on applying for a visa to immigrate to Canada because of the 3 to 5 year wait. So, we were about to apply to Australia, even though we had concerns about the distance from the UK. And by accident, I stumbled on another visa we could apply for, which would enable us to get to Canada faster. Now we’re just crossing our fingers that we get it.

Have you immigrated to another country, or are you considering immigrating? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

Further Reading On This Site

Live The Dream In Vancouver, Canada
Immigrating To Australia – Is It Right For You?
Live The Dream In Silicon Valley
Immigrating – Choosing Where To Go

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21 Responses to “Thinking Of Immigrating? 8 Things You Should Know”

  1. Robin on November 18th, 2009 10:59 pm

    Hi Cath – your point 7 about people not liking immigrants is astounding, isn’t it? (and funny in a tragic sort of way). I like the way you have turned the things one doesn’t want into requests for what one does want! So you have decided on Canada – good luck with the applications! I must admit I’d feel nervous about recommending Melbourne, because the house prices are so high – we can’t afford to buy one. A modest house near us went for 1.1 million a few weeks ago.

    Robin’s last blog post..Ego Is Not A Dirty Word

  2. Davina on November 19th, 2009 12:39 am

    Hi Cath. All of this is enough to make me not want to immigrate anywhere. Kudos to you for being so thorough. My gut tells me it’s also good to stop and look at the reasons why you want to immigrate. What ways of life and circumstances are you choosing to leave behind by leaving your current country — what would you absolutely NOT want to recreate in the new place? Come to Vancouver, come to Vancouver…

    Davina’s last blog post..There‚Äôs An Artist In Our Midst

  3. cathlawson on November 19th, 2009 4:29 am

    Hi Robin – That is a lot of cash. If we’d moved there we figured that we’d probably have to live a 40 min commute out of the city centre because of house prices.

    Melbourne is where we would have chosen if we’d came to Australia. In the end, it was the long expensive flights back to the UK that were the decider. But I still want to visit there one year.

    Hi Davina – I just want to make sure I get it totally right cos I don’t want to pick the wrong area and have the kids move school again.

    Good point about making sure you don’t create the same things you don’t like in another country. I definitely don’t want to live in another house that gets no sunlight.

    Vancouver does look awesome. My only concerns are the differences between house prices and salaries – they seem really OTT.

    Also, I’m worried about the dullness in the winter cos it depresses me. So, we’re leaning towards Calgary – cold winters I know but at least the sun shines.

    We thought about Ontario initially but the humidity in the summer and smog around Toronto area were off-putting. I looked at Kamloops also but apparently it has a lot of black widow spiders and rattlesnakes.

    But I’m going to come and see you in Vancouver anyway. If we manage to get there early enough next summer, we hope to explore a bit.

  4. Kelvin Kao on November 19th, 2009 8:55 am

    Our immigration application process took around 10 years so it was not wise to put life on hold. In fact, when the result came out, we were more or less like “Hm, now what?” since it’s been put on the back-burner for so long. We did it through my uncle in Ohio, but we decided to come to California instead, since the weather is something we are more used to. We moved to a city where my dad’s good friend and my mom’s friend are. That was a wise choice. It was good to have someone that can give you tips, answer your questions, and tell you which day the garbage is collected. Small things, but really important.

    Of course, it’s not a requirement, but it definitely helped a lot, especially when it was a country that speaks a different language.

    Kelvin Kao’s last blog post..Puppetry Classes

  5. Mike CJ on November 19th, 2009 1:04 pm

    Interesting – I left UK for The Canaries ten years ago, and have never regretted it for a moment. And one of our businesses here specializes in helping people to move to the island.

    But I’ve seen some dramatic changes in recent years. When we first came here the people looking to move were serious about it and planned it well – most stayed and are now successful. But recently we seem to be getting a lot of people who come here with no real plans, and no back up money, and almost inevitably they fail and end up going home. I’m wondering if the problem is the plethora of TV shows which make it seem simple to up sticks and move your family abroad. it isn’t!

    Mike CJ’s last blog post..Sorry guys, but those are NOT membership sites

  6. cathlawson on November 19th, 2009 1:28 pm

    Wow Kelvin – 10 years is a long time to wait. I don’t blame you for choosing California though.

    It must have been a lot harder to move to a country with a different language to yours. It is easy to move from the UK to other countries in Europe but the thought of the language barrier was just too scary – especially with the kids still being in school.

    Hi Mike – That’s interesting. I wonder if TV shows are to blame? I don’t watch much TV but I have heard that a program was running where the TV company actually sent families to Australia for a few weeks, to see if they’d like living there.

    There’s a lot of Internet sites on immigrating too, so you’d think folk would be more inclined to do their research now. It’s certainly a whole lot easier for them. But as you say, folk seem to do it with no real plans, or money.

    I’ve read about folk who are stuck in other countries because they can’t afford to come home – it’s crazy.

  7. Dot on November 19th, 2009 3:06 pm

    Great advice! When I moved from New York to DC, which is not the same as changing countries by any means, I found it was hard to get the answers to some of my questions — such as, how do the incomes compare, and how do the rents compare. It turned out the incomes were lower, but the rents were MUCH lower, so it worked out well.

    I like your research about black widow spiders and rattlesnakes. I research that stuff too, as well as what kind of disasters they have — tornadoes, earthquakes, etc.

  8. cathlawson on November 19th, 2009 4:17 pm

    Hi Dot – The US is so huge and diverse that I can imagine moving from one state to another must be like moving to another country.

    A few years ago, I was speaking to a woman who was over here on a one year exchange from San Diego. She said she didn’t miss her family in the US so much, as even when she was at home, she still had to fly a few hours to see them.

    Comparing the rents with income is important. Like you say – you don’t mind taking a low salary if the rent is a lot lower.

  9. vered | blogger for hire on November 19th, 2009 5:58 pm

    Great tips, Cath. I agree that it’s important to be realistic and to do your research.

    vered | blogger for hire’s last blog post..Genetic Testing for Children: Would You Do It?

  10. Cath Lawson on November 19th, 2009 8:51 pm

    Thanks Vered – I know you will have done yours before you immigrated to the US. It’s stories like yours and your enthusiasm for your new country that tell me this move will be a great success, if we do it right.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Thinking Of Immigrating? 8 Things You Should Know

  11. Hilary on November 20th, 2009 8:13 pm

    Hi Cath – where are you here? I’m in Eastbourne. I went to South Africa late ’70s and came back early ’90s .. both the wrong way as far as the exchange rate was concerned. When I came back I was older etc (obviously – I know!) .. but so much had changed here – the different systems in each country .. the legal systems, (Roman Dutch law in SA – here English Law); ways of doing things etc etc – I struggled for sometime to ‘get it right for living in England’ .. and I still use some lingo from SA .. But you learn so much by living in another country – good luck with all the arrangements etc …

    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters Inspirational Stories

  12. cathlawson on November 21st, 2009 7:55 am

    Hi Hilary, I’m in Cumbria in the north of England – near Carlisle.

    I know folk who did the same as you and suffered due to the bad exchange rate. A friend of mine has a pension in Africa but if he converted it into GBP it would be worthless.

    It’s interesting what you say about all the changes. I wondered what it would be like for folk coming back after many years. I guess it’s a lot like moving to a foreign country.

  13. Barbara Swafford on November 21st, 2009 8:07 am

    Hi Catherine,

    My fingers are crossed for you, too. I know you’ve been dreaming of leaving the UK and Canada has been high on your list. I hope it all works out for you.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..What Does Your Blog Say About You

  14. Hilary on November 21st, 2009 8:29 am

    Hi Cath – thanks for answering – I hope you’re not washed out – obviously not as your net is working .. Having stopped briefly in Calgary and travelled along the eastern Rockies – there’s work there .. and I understand there’s more work in the West of Canada than the east. Kamloops is very parochial. I have friends who live in Surrey south of Vancouver and seem happy and content – I’d guess that’s not so expensive.

    One other aspect – the thing I found about moving from England .. is that cultural gap – ie we seem imbued with thousand of years of history .. and we connect with it and use it all the time even if we don’t realise it ..

    South Africa is out of the loop too, as is Australia .. so you’d be more connectable in Canada .. and if global warming is occurring you’ll be having a bit more warmth .. and Canada may well be a rich nation with its oil – so could be a good place to live & future for the kids!

    Have you got an email .. I can’t see it on the site? I’m my name at gmail dot com … I’d like to give you a ring sometime? No rush – as I’m off up to Manchester at the end of the week for a few days – so somewhat tied up .. not like you though.

    Thanks Hilary

  15. cathlawson on November 22nd, 2009 11:10 pm

    Hi Barbara – Thank you. Just have to cross our fingers that we get the visa.

    Hi again Hilary – Thanks – I did wonder that about Kamloops as it’s quite small. I checked Surrey out but some folk say the crime is bad there. Mind you – the crime seems bad in the whole of BC compared to the rest of Canada.

    I will email you my phone number.

  16. Patricia on November 23rd, 2009 5:30 pm

    Wow my parents came from Scotland and Canada and then did school in NYC – finding a job across the country for starters. Then came all the class work to become citizens. After my father died my mum went back to Canada to care for her mum…but she could not get into the health ins. system for herself with out an additional $100,000 pay back into the system. This was overwhelming at the time, but would have saved so much at her end…it’s all those little and eventually big things which can make a huge difference.

    Good list – yep research and planning.

    Patricia’s last blog post..Harvest Potluck UNICEF Fundraiser

  17. cathlawson on November 24th, 2009 1:50 am

    Hi Patricia – That must have been so difficult for her. So far as I know, anyone can come and live in the UK and be entitled to free healthcare straight away. Mind you, if you need a serious operation – you might die waiting, as many other people have.

    Where in Scotland and Canada were your parents from? Moving back then would be very different, as they didn’t have the transportation to enable them to visit home, or the Internet to research the place they were going to.

  18. NYL on December 29th, 2009 9:36 pm

    This is great advice. Living in New York City, I see immigrants almost daily and so often they are unprepared for life as it really is. They have dreams of buying a NY luxury condo yet find that they can only afford a flat in the Bronx. Definitely need to research such things as economic factors, unemployment rate, etc. before making such a big move.

  19. Ian Walker on March 22nd, 2010 1:05 pm

    You emphasis that there is lot of challenge in a new immigrated country, so I think it is better to have a immigration attorney in advance because things may go uncertain during immigration:)

  20. DC Condo Boutique on March 23rd, 2010 3:41 am

    The economy in Washington DC is growing and adding jobs. A great city to immigrate to.

  21. rent Manhattan apartments on March 30th, 2010 10:59 am

    I agree with you, if you decide to immigrate, it would be better to make some research first.

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