Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving Abroad

Next week will make it my 3rd year living in Japan. I always say this but I honestly can’t believe how quickly that came. I actually only planned to live here for a year so I am shocked that I made it this far. Read more about my first day arriving in Japan in New to Nihon. That was also the first time I stepped foot in Japan or Asia at all. I never visited before moving. I don’t think I was ready for what was to come. Can you really be ready for anything anyway? Here are some things I wish I knew before moving abroad.


Studying a language and practicing with native speakers are very different. I definitely wish I learned how to communicate with others more before moving. I’ve never been the person that picked up languages easily. Even with growing up in NYC, hearing so many different ones, and taking lessons in school. I only knew a few words in Japanese when I arrived. Surprisingly, it’s pretty easy to get around without knowing much Japanese depending on where you work and live.


It will take some time to get used to another country’s currency. In the beginning, you’ll constantly convert currencies in your head. It took me a few months to stop converting prices into dollars and just know how much things were in yen.

You may have to send money between your bank accounts in your home country and abroad. One reason, if most of your money is abroad and you have bills to pay in your home country each month. TransferWise has been the best app because it’s easy and has the lowest fees. Something I’ve found out in Japan is that if you make money overseas and send it here, it is taxable.

U.S. citizens need to file taxes in the U.S. every year even if they live and work in another country. You file any income made in America and abroad. Some people may qualify for a foreign income tax exclusion. Taxes also need to be completed in your new country.

Cell Phone

It might be easier to bring your phone from home and change the SIM card when you get abroad. Then you’ll have to think about which provider to sign up with. I kept my phone from home, got a SIM card, and a Japanese number. But, I didn’t look into phone companies and made a big mistake. One of the large providers in Japan, Softbank, is connected to T-Mobile and Sprint. If I switched to one of them prior to leaving, I would have been able to use the data on my phone in both countries. Instead, when ever I go back, I connect to Wifi and don’t have a number. I gave up the number I’ve had since the early years of having my first cell 😫.

What are some other things you’d want to know?   

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