Moving country should come easy to me by now, but there’s always those little things you don’t think about. It helps having someone you know living there to turn to for advice but not everyone has such comforts (well, I did but I still feel your pain). There’s nothing I love more than traveling so when it’s time to pack up and move, I get TOO excited and engrossed in my plans. I make a list of all the restaurants, cafes and bars (especially bars) I want to try and focus on finding a new apartment I can call home. That’s the fun part but once you arrive, your first month is pure anguish and goes something like this:
Jokes, it’s not all bad. Being a fish out of water is entertainment in itself but if you are about to move abroad, here’s a bunch of obstacles I was not so prepared to face the first time round:
National Identification Number
The first thing you do when your departure date is creeping up, is figure out how to get your national identification number. It could go by a different name in your given country but they all mean the same thing and you’ll need it for pretty much everything from here on in. Make sure you have everything you need to apply for your number. They will most likely require an address- this is where those distant relatives you’ve never met come in. Call ahead and set up an appointment for your first or second day. The longer you leave it, the more hassle it causes you!
Setting up a bank account? Surely I’ll be in and out in 10 mins.
This isn’t something us very young adults think about when we have 100 other hurdles running through our minds. What are you going to do when you hit the bank and you need more than just your passport? Yep, they need your National Insurance/ Social Security number or equivalent and proof of address. But I don’t have an address yet? I need a bill with my address on it? I’ve only been here two weeks! Bring enough cash to cover a deposit and first months rent just in case you can’t withdraw enough cash with your Irish card.
Locking in an apartment with no proof of income? Errrrr….
It’s like a vicious circle. You can’t get that without this, but for this you need that. This was one of the most frustrating obstacles for me in NYC. Luckily, I had a social security number from when I lived in California but I had no credit history and no job which is pretty much everything you need to secure a tenancy. Sure, you can sublet or find a room in an apartment with an easy going landlord but decent houseshares can be hard to come by. Besides, we didn’t want to split up. Without pay slips or employer references, we needed a guarantor and fast. Has anyone spontaneously moved abroad EVER? Where do internationals live when they first move? Ugh. We managed to find ourselves a guarantor through a relative but I honestly don’t know how we would have managed.
What neighborhood do I fit in to?
This takes some time and no matter how much research you put in to it and people you ask, you never get a real feel for a neighborhood until you’re there. Leaving it until you arrive is easier said than done, I know. I spent the full month before I moved to New York on Naked Apartments and Street Easy but my mind changed every two days. It wasn’t until I had been in New York for about three weeks and explored different areas myself before I could say yes – the Upper West Side will do just fine. Well, that and when you’re a 23 year old over on a Graduate Visa with no credit history and no guarantor, you can’t really be picky. Looking back though, I am happy with our choice (major plus being three blocks away from Central Park).
London was just the same. My mind kept on changing so I set up viewings for several areas. Once I based my viewings around my set budget and ideal housemates, my decision was down to the location. I saw Shoreditch, Clapham, Elephant and Castle, Mayfair, West Kennsington before arriving in Fulham and I am SO excited about my new neighborhood.
Dare I ask about the cost of rent?
Oh dear, this is a tricky one when you’re new to a job or haven’t locked one in yet. I guess Facebook and rental sites were my most helpful tools. You can kind of gage how much you can afford by reading through flatshare adverts. You can refine your search by the tenants ages. For example, if you come across 20 rooms in flatshares with 23 year-olds working in the same industry as you and paying between $1,000-$1,300, you can base your budget around that. Call me a copy-cat but it’s worked for me.
I was genuinely so worried about rent moving to New York because it’s a very different ball game to Dublin. That and I had absolutely no idea how much a recent graduate earns in the media industry in New York City. I have to say, it was one of my toughest challenges I’ve ever faced because the apartments in Manhattan are absolutely tiny and with four of us, we had to have a living area of some sort. At one stage, Dara had me travel out to somewhere in Brooklyn to view an apartment in what can only be described as a derelict area (mind you, the apartment was pretty sweet and under our budget). As our budget fluctuated, we managed to balance it somewhere between we want to live in Manhattan but we want to have money left over to LIVE in Manhattan. When anyone ever asked how I managed to find our apartment, Dara replied “I lit the fire under her”. After that ordeal, finding somewhere in London came much easier -and faster!
One more thing. Once you track down that distant relative or contact, get an address and don’t forget their post code. Post codes or ‘Eircodes’ have only become a necessity in Ireland over the past year or so, but most countries now require it for everything from job applications to paying for anything online.
If you live abroad and you hear of a friend, a family friend, a very distant relative- anyone moving to your location, always reach out to them. I couldn’t have got through my big moves without my friends helping me along the way and I am eternally grateful <3.