In today’s increasingly globalized world, people are immigrating at a growing rate. According to the U.N., the number of international migrants increased from 173 million in 2000 to 258 million by 2017.

Growing immigration trends do not, however, make the process of moving to another country any less daunting than in the past. The key to simplifying the challenge of moving abroad is to plan everything in advance to avoid unnecessary costs and delays.

Start with Thorough Research

Success in almost any area of life depends on gathering good information so you can make the right decisions. Immigrants face extra challenges when researching their destination because there is often limited information available in their native language and cultural nuances can lead to serious misunderstandings.

Regardless of what country you are moving to, there are several factors that you will need to research before making any decisions.

Quality of Life

You should make sure that you are able to afford to live in your intended destination. If you need to work, you should make sure that there are sufficient job opportunities available to foreigners. Make sure that you know how much employers are paying in your new country to ensure that you can afford the cost of living there.

Location-Specific Factors

If the country you are moving to is large, you should figure out what cities would be most advantageous for your situation. Additionally, online real estate listings should be consulted to identify specific condominiums or homes where you would like to reside. You may even want to call some of the listing agents to inquire about the properties. The process of compiling a list of homes that you like will help you to feel confident in your decision to immigrate.

Legal and Religious Barriers

You will also want to research potential legal restrictions that could limit available opportunities in your destination. For instance, many countries make land ownership and mortgages difficult to acquire for foreigners. If you are a member of a religious group, you should make sure that your new country does not impose restrictions on your mode of worship.

Cultural Factors

Many people who live abroad experience significant culture shock upon arrival.

YouTube and online articles can help you to get a glimpse of what the culture is like in your destination and whether other people from your country of origin are generally satisfied with their experience. Although you cannot know exactly what a country is like until you have experienced it personally, starting with a general understanding of cultural factors can help you to determine whether you are likely to be happy in your new country.

Prepare a Detailed Plan

Meticulous planning is crucial when immigrating because returning to your home country can be prohibitively expensive. To make sure that you will have all your affairs in order before setting out, you will need to make a detailed plan. Your plan should cover at least five factors.

1. Getting Organized

You will first need to get everything in your current country organized so you are ready to travel. Since many people unexpectedly return after moving abroad, you might not want to sell off your home and furniture unless you need to for financial reasons.

2. Financing

Foreigners moving to the U.S. have little difficulty opening a bank account, but you will need to build credit with the three major U.S. credit agencies to obtain a loan. U.S. citizens moving abroad should be aware of their obligations under FATCA and that this law makes almost no foreign banks willing to open an account for an American.

Many U.S. expatriates in informed circles use a U.S.-based HSBC Premier account to obtain foreign mortgages because HSBC has the unique ability to issue mortgages in multiple currencies.

3. Employment

You will need to make a specific plan for finding employment. One of the best options is to search for jobs in multinational corporations that do business in both your country of origin and the country you are immigrating to.

4. Language Preparation

Finding a job and participating in a new culture is much easier when you know the language that the people around you speak. There are plenty of free and premium online services that can help you learn a new language in only a couple of months.

If you have at least a basic understanding of your new country’s language, you will be able to have conversations with native speakers once you arrive to naturally perfect your language skills over time.

5. Housing

Use the research you conducted earlier to make a definite plan about where you want to live.

If you plan to rent, the best option is usually to book a hotel for the first week or two so you will have time to explore the properties that you found online. Buying takes several months in most countries, so it is often advisable to obtain short-term housing before arriving if your plan is to invest in purchasing a property.

Apply for Residency

Once your plan is made, you should obtain permanent residency status or a long-term visa before doing anything else. You may discover issues during the application process that could make immigration infeasible in your situation, and this could lead to losses if you have already made investments on the assumption that you will immigrate. For instance, the U.S. does not guarantee that all green card applications will be approved, and the application process can take several years. Other countries require prospective immigrants to go through rigorous background checks that depend on the subjective opinion of an immigration officer.

Going out of your way to show that you are following the law greatly increases your chances of having your application approved in any country.

In many cases, working with a professional is advisable to ensure that you apply best practices while avoiding common mistakes. Professionals can also help you to understand the requirements so you can know whether you qualify before going through the whole application process.

Make Your Move

The final step is to actually immigrate to your new country once your application has been approved and all of your affairs are in order. If you are moving to a country that is on the other side of the world, keep in mind that $1,368 is the average cost of an international flight. Also, some products can be expensive to transfer internationally as some countries impose heavy tariffs on imported personal property. For instance, relocating a dog can cost $3,400.

New immigrants often feel overwhelmed when they are suddenly immersed in an entirely new culture and environment. It can help to have arrangements made with people who can help you to adapt when you arrive. For instance, it is often a good idea to establish a relationship with a legal professional who can advise you on the legal nuances in your new country. Following the law is key because foreigners are often given fewer legal rights than citizens, so you could experience harsher penalties or even deportation when you fail to fulfill your obligations or accidentally break a law.

Get the Help You Need

Immigrating to another country is a challenging process that you should not have to manage alone. Although professional help is not required, working with an immigration lawyer or certified immigration consultant can help to reduce uncertainty and streamline your application.