Germany Visa by Jets Like Taxis

So you wanna move overseas? A life of travel or immigration to a new land? People talk about it all the time. Very few ever actually do it. Hell, very few ever even try to do it.

I was reading a recent post by Mark over at Uruguay Expat Life. He was laying it down about how he and his wife obtained the necessary permits to become legal residents of that fine country. And he was also taking some time out to officially snap on people who spend their days preaching “wisdom” in internet forums.

And his story sure reminded me a lot of ours when we made our way to Berlin, Germany, back in early 2011. We felt his ire back then, and still have quite a bit of disdain for certain parts of the internet. So, I asked Mark if I could talk about him in this post, and add a little bit of my own ranting into the mix.

This is Mark. He moved to Uruguay from the United States with his lovely wife. His recent blog post inspired what I wrote here.

Uruguay Expat Life

Once your done ogling Mark’s handsome mug, you can continue reading below…

Do you really want to move overseas? Then do it. Yes, it is that plain and simple. If you want it, you’ll do it. And you’ll do anything (within the law, yeah?) to make it happen. When we decided to move to Berlin, we had a very frank conversation about actually doing it. Less talk, more action. Roadblocks would come, and we would work our way around each one.

Before you head over and read Mark’s post, which applies in its own right to every country in the world, let me give you a few tips. If you don’t want to hear it, then you’re probably not ready to fulfill your “lifelong” dream of moving overseas.

All the things mentioned below are things that we did and things that helped us accomplish our goal of moving over yonder.

Berlin by Jets Like Taxis

1. Set a goal / set a time-frame.

This is important. It gives you a “deadline” at which point you should complete your project. It also keeps you from procrastinating and ending up in the bar two years later making excuses about how you were going to move overseas but you just weren’t feeling it. We made our decision in August 2010: We would move to Germany in February 2011. We moved one month late – March 2011 – with all of our ducks in a row.

2. Read everything you can get your hands on.

Google everything you can think of. Starting a business in Spain? Google those terms and and all of their iterations. Moving to Bulgaria to teach English? Do the same. Whatever it is you want to do, google the hell out of it and all of its related terms.

A good trick here is to use Google for your target country, in addition to your normal Google searches. I’ve talked about this before and I can’t tell you enough how much of a difference it can make, or how much more info you’ll find. If your target country is Serbia, for example, also be sure to use google.rs for Serbian sites. You can search these localized forms of Google and then have the option of only seeing results based in your target country, or even in your target language if you’re comfortable with that.

Read everything. I don’t care how crappy or out of date or unreliable or shady the website seems: Read it.

3. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

When you’re googling all of the things above, you’ll inevitably stumble across government organizations that talk about immigration, how to immigrate, how to start a business in that country, etc. You’ll also come across non-profit sites and chambers of commerce and arts websites and whatever else you’re into. They will provide you with many ideas that you will take note of, or put in the back of your brain. They will also provide contact info. Government representatives, non-profit immigration and/or business consultants, etc. Email all of them. If you see ten contacts on a website, email all ten. Get your email game down to a science. Ask questions. If they don’t have answers, ask them if they know someone you can talk to.

Same goes for everyone and anyone you know who has spent a reasonable amount of time in your target country. Parents of your friends who emigrated from Portugal. A business associate whose wife is from Italy. Whatever. Holler at them. If they don’t respond, holler again. If they ignore you after a thousand requests, get over it. It’ll feel that much sweeter when you succeed and think back on all the suckers who ignored you when you needed their intimate insight into a foreign land.

Berlin Alexanderplatz by Jets Like Taxis

4. Visit internet expat forums and chat rooms for your target country.

Most people who have successfully emigrated will cringe when they see this. Don’t worry, I hate the hell out of these places, too. They are full of know-it-alls, people who apparently know the letter of the law and that things can’t be any other way, folks who will tell you that in “your” situation, you shouldn’t even bother trying to move to “their” country. Their country. Really.

As much as they will annoy the hell out of you, they will also provide you with a vast array of correct, incorrect, and ambiguous information that pertains or does not pertain to you. The point of this is to learn. Gain valuable insight from all the shit-talkers and fancy-pants who might as well claim to have written immigration law for your country.

When you’re going through the immigration process, it will help to have all of the things said locked away in your Superman (or Superwoman) Master of Immigration Skills vault. You never know when you’ll need the slightest tidbit of info.

We can tell you this: We have exhaustively read forums for where we’ve been. (And still read some of them to this day, for no apparent reason.) One thing we have never, ever done is join one of these forums. Just because it’s a forum doesn’t mean you have to join it. If it’s public, it’s fair game. Get reading, and bring some antacid tablets.

5. Over-prepare to the extreme.

If one person says you need this paper, and another says you need a different paper – have both. If they want “a few” letters-of-intent for your job or whatever it is you do – get as many as you can. If they say three, get ten.

Are you in business? If they ask for business financials, give them a business plan (with financials, of course). If they say they’ll want a copy of your college degree, get a copy of it and transcripts and do the same for high school.

Always bring more to the party than is requested of you. Over-prepare yourself and come knowing that you’re going to rock this shit.

Here’s the catch, though: You probably don’t need most of it. But you will need some of it. And from our experience, you will never be told the same set of requirements by any two people, anywhere. So, gather up as much knowledge as you can and get as much together as you can.

I know that sounds a bit wishy-washy. Alas, the process of immigration is wishy-washy, so it kind of fits.

6. Do not hire a lawyer or for-profit consultant to do your dirty work.

Unless you’re extremely wealthy, or a company is sending you overseas and you don’t care about assimilating into a new culture, then you don’t need this. (You also don’t need to be reading this post.)

Doing this yourself – by reading, researching, scoffing at bullshit, learning a new language bit by bit, navigating foreign bureaucracy and red tape, asking questions, and being excited about your new life – will provide you with vast knowledge and a great feeling of success when you finally get that visa or residency permit.

If you’re not up to the task, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing this (yet). Get your ducks in a row, get excited about doing what your parents and your friends and your coworkers said was impossible.

7. Don’t be a jerk.

Seriously. Be nice. Be really nice. Nice gets you things. Because people like nice. And because you are nice, no matter what your ex says. People like sympathy and charm and genuine interest and respect. You can be an asshole after you have your visa (but just because you can be, doesn’t mean you should be).

Jets Like Taxis in Staufen, Germany

And those are the seven things I have for you today.

Take our word for it: We moved overseas less than seven months after we decided to do so, we learned a new language, we navigated some seriously sickening bureaucracy, and we got permits for twice as long as we thought we would. Good things come to those who rebuff the naysayers and work to achieve their goals.

Determination, perseverance, proactiveness, and a real desire will get you there. Believe it.

Before I turn this into an even longer post, I’m going to pass it over to Mark at Uruguay Expat Life, who details some of the aforementioned fun and hate in this great blog post.

Questions or comments? Let us know down below!