How To Move Abroad With A Family In 7 Steps

The world is getting a lot smaller and much more accessible and with so many people “ditching the 9-5″ to move abroad, there’s an ever-present nagging idea to move to the beach or to travel more. But once you reach a certain age, get married, and start a family, picking up and moving to a new country permanently or temporarily can be a major undertaking.

As someone who picks up and moves with her family every 2-3 years, I’m proof that it can be done.  It’s not always magical and you may not see as much of the beach as you imagined, but you can move to another country with a family.  Let me show you how to move to move abroad with a family in 7 steps.

#1.  Figure Out How To Make Money

Let’s be real.  Moving anywhere hinges on your ability to make money and provide for your family.  So, the first step to emigrating to another country is to find a way to make money.

The way I see it, you have two options: get a job or start a business.  By getting a job, you can  (ideally) live anywhere as long as you have an offer of employment but if you choose to start a business and move abroad, that limits where you can move, but we’ll talk about that in a bit.

Without family connections, moving to another country costs money in employment, income, or investment.   So, it’s important to know how you’ll make money once you leave your country of citizenship.

#2. Research Countries

Ok, so we just said that moving abroad legally requires income, employment, or investment.  And based on your country(ies) of citizenship and how you plan to make money, some countries may not be available to you and your family.

For instance, if you’re a freelancer, you don’t apply for an employer sponsorship visa.  So, if you’re jonesin’ to move to a certain country,  you need to determine if you either have proof of the government-required income level OR you’re ready to make a substantial investment.

As you’re doing your research on the residency requirements for your next home country, check out Project Visa to determine initial Visa requirements for each country. Then, check out  to determine the residency income and investment requirements.

Once you narrow down your broad search to a few countries, start looking at each country’s individual residency requirements.  The most up-to-date place to find that information is on each government’s embassy’s visa and immigration website.  The fastest way to find this information is to Google “[the country] and “visa and immigration requirements”.  For instance, “[England] and visa and immigration requirements” or “[Costa Rica] and visa and immigration requirements”

#3. Choose A Country & Visa Status

Once you complete your research, you should know two things: where you want to move and what type of visa you hope want to apply for.  Relative to all the things you need to figure out, this is a very small step when you’re trying to determine how to move to another country, but you can’t skip it.  Before you can do ANYTHING else, you need to have an ideal location and understand the different options for Visas as well as how to qualify for each option.

#4. Qualify For The Visa & Apply

When you want to move abroad, if you already know you want to qualify for a work visa, then you need to find a job in your chosen country.

Work Visa

If your current employer is not able or unwilling to allow you to transfer to an office in your chosen country, one of the fastest ways to find a job in a new country is to sign up with a regional recruiter.

Apply for jobs with companies who are willing to sponsor your visa.  And as a foreigner, remember that you need to be beyond exceptional to qualify for the job. After all, by employing you, this company will be investing in you by sponsoring your visa and perhaps even the visas for your spouse and children.

You can’t be mediocre. Be exceptional.

Entrepreneur/Startup Visa

If you’ve chosen to use your business as a vehicle to change countries, that’s great. All countries have different visa restrictions for business owners.  Some countries don’t have a business/entrepreneur/startup visa and you’ll have to qualify for your visa through investment. Other countries offer a fairly strict business Visa. For instance, in Australia, you have to not only invest +1million  but you also need an invitation to apply as well as meet a host of additional requirements.

Investment Visa

Many countries will allow you to essentially invest in their country as a means to qualify for residency. If you have the cash, it’s the quickest option to residency but since most people who want to move don’t have upwards of $500K sitting around, it may not be the best visa option for you and your family to move abroad.

Income Visa

In some cases, countries attempt to target pensioners to take up residency and they allow people with guaranteed income to apply for residency using their guaranteed income.  The easiest way to do this is to get a regular retirement check but other options to check out could be using the income from your job or business to show consistent income.

At the end of the day, just because YOU think your income is guaranteed and consistent, doesn’t mean that the visa official reviewing your visa application holds the same opinion.

Just figure out the best avenue to qualify legally.  I’ve intentionally left Holiday Work Visas, Asylum Visas, Fiance Visas, marriage, and Student Visas off of this list.  These are specialized Visa categories. Some are age-based, while some are politically charged in many instances and abused in others.  And for a family wanting to know legal ways to move abroad, the omitted Visa statuses don’t add any value to the conversation on how to move abroad with a family.

#5. Apply For Your Visa

Only once you qualify, go to the Embassy page of the country you’ve selected. Find the Visa application and determine what parts of the application you’re responsible to complete. The application process for all countries is a bit unique. So,  for those applying for work visas, have a discussion with your future employer as quickly as you can to determine what (if anything) you need to do to facilitate your visa application.

#6. Prepare While You Wait

Waiting on a visa can literally take forever. While you wait, there are a TON of details and you need to start to researching and making decisions. For instance, you can start to determine:

  • In what city you want to live.
  • Whether you want to buy or rent
  • Find a realtor to help you find a place to live
  • If you need to learn the local language, it doesn’t have to be hard. Here are 7 Foreign Language Hacks When Traveling Abroad.
  • Where your kids may to school
  • If you’ll use an international moving company and if yes, which one you’ll use

#7.  Plan Your Move

Once you receive your Visa, it’s time to put your plans into action.  Set a date, schedule your movers, find temporary housing OR move into your new place, and get your kids ready to start at their new school.


Moving to another country with a family is NOT easy but it isn’t impossible. It just takes a bit of planning and an ocean of patience. One more piece of information to consider is that many citizens of the US, Europe, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand are granted provisional entries to certain countries, sometimes for up to 6 months without a Visa.

If your family is interested in seeing many countries, using these non-visa tourist entries is a great way to travel without having to bother with visa.


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