Researching Migration

As we discussed in our Deciding to Migrate
article, we
sort of eased into the decision to try moving to another country for a
few years. As it became clear that this was our path of choice, it also
became clear we had no real idea of what that meant. Ideally,
we’d all love to find the perfect step by step
how-to
guide for an adventure. Since we don’t usually find those, we
looked for a combination of people’s personal experiences and
some
simple facts and data about processes, requirements and so on.

We like to attack from multiple angles in our research process by using
a wide variety of resources.

  1. Books are
    most likely to be overall guides
  2. The Internet
    might have very specific information plus a range of personal stories
  3. People
    can help up uncover things we hadn’t considered

 As Americans, we
were certainly aware of legal and illegal immigration as a political
issue. We also had some casual knowledge through discussion with
immigrant friends about different legal immigrant statuses such as
holding a green card or passing a citizenship exam. Still, we had never
seriously researched what it takes to get permission to live and work
in another nation. What is the process? What are the criteria? How much
does it cost? What immigration statuses might be available to us? How
different is the process from one country to another?

Beyond getting legal permission, we also needed to know more about the
personal side of migrating. To move from the dream to a real plan we
had to understand what we were getting into. Is it as cool as it seems?
What are we not expecting? What are the chances it’s going to
be
a huge failure?  Is this something we really want to do?

This point of realizing you only have questions but no answers can be
paralyzing, at least for us. The great overwhelm seems to happen just
after we have actually picked a direction- maybe it’s a sort
of
commitment panic.  By now, though, we have pursued enough
adventures that we can find some comfort in starting to research. We
probably go a little overboard to make informed choices, but
it’s
become a habit.

1. Read a Book

We like to start with books because they typically go into greater
detail than things we find on the web; you can almost always find an
authority who claims to know everything there is on the topic. We
usually start at the library for a few reasons. Yes, we are cheap, but
also a decent library system tends to have a greater range of titles
than any one bookstore, so it’s a quick way to look over
several
books and take something home same day. Unfortunately, in this case we
came up dry; nothing close to a dummy’s guide to moving
abroad.
We could have then gone to local bookstores, but we felt Amazon.com
was the next best since it also has a huge range of titles, and the
descriptions and reader reviews can get us a long way to understanding
whether a book has the kind of answers we need. We were surprised to
find that there wasn’t much on moving abroad. Lots on travel,
and
lots on moving to specific locations and even some on working or
schooling abroad. Other titles we reviewed, such as the Survival Kit
for Overseas Living, seemed to be for people who had never traveled
much or at least were particularly worried about culture shock. We just
didn’t see any thorough, practical how-to guide for planning
an
international move.

A book we did end up buying was The
Grown Up’s Guide to Retiring Abroad
, which we later
learned was the followup to The
Grown-Ups Guide to Running Away from Home

(although we never read it, the first book sounds much closer to what
we were seeking). The Retiring Abroad book draws on the
author’s
personal experience living in France as well as reviewing 19 other
options popular with Americans. She does a credible job of outlining
many of the practical details such as finding favorite foods, setting
up utilities, warning of duties on importing personal goods. She also
covers healthcare, safety and some cultural issues.  Some of
these
details prompted us to define more carefully what criteria we held for
our new locale. While we got a good sense of possible migration issues,
the book was focused more on the destinations than really exploring
each issue in depth, and of course had nothing about working. Getting
Out: Your Guide to Leaving America
 looks like an
interesting if perhaps controversial new publication that came out
since we left.


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