Moving any significant distance to be with the person you love is generally considered pretty romantic. Whether it’s around the world, across the country, or even just interstate, it’s the stuff fairytale endings are made of. You buy a one-way ticket, pack your bags, and set off for a new beginning with the love of your life.
But what happens after the fairytale ending? What happens when the nerves, excitement, and jetlag have worn off?
Like any big change, relocating for love is a challenge. It requires patience, commitment, and honesty — both with yourself and with your partner. The good news is that with the right person, it’s 100 percent worth it. Here’s everything you need to know.
1. It can put a lot of strain on a relationship.
Relocating for love requires a lot of multitasking. You’ll quickly find yourself juggling making new friends and finding a job in your new home while also trying to familiarize yourself with what may be a completely different culture, negotiate visas, and maybe even learn a new language.
If you struggle with any one of the above or other challenges like homesickness, it’s easy to lose perspective and blame the root of the problem: the person you relocated for. You may also find that your partner thinks your unhappiness is their fault and blames themself too.
To make things easier for both of you, it can help to develop coping mechanisms before you move. That might mean agreeing to a regular date night out together as a couple, or, individually, keeping track of everything you’ve accomplished in your new home. It could be as simple as getting a job, joining a new gym, or redecorating; add it to a list, then look through it on bad days to surprise yourself with how far you’ve come.
2. Getting a visa application is time consuming and complicated.
If the country you’re relocating to requires you to apply for a visa, then the first thing you need to find out is what sort of visa you need to apply for. Depending on your personal circumstances, you may be able to choose from several different options, each of which will carry its own requirements, working rights, and citizenship status.
Naturally, you’re most likely to be applying for a relationship visa. To make this process as easy as possible, it’s a good idea to start collecting “evidence” of your relationship from at least a year ahead of when you intend to apply. Creating a large selection of photos, bills, flight tickets, and old texts or emails a long while in advance guarantees you won’t be scrambling for proof of your relationship in the run-up to submitting your application.
Alternatively, you may want to delay applying for a relationship visa. In this case, check what other visa options are open to you and remember to thoroughly research the option you choose. If you break its terms at any point during your stay it could seriously damage your chances of being able to stay and you could even risk being deported.
3. You’ll probably be financially (and emotionally) dependent on your partner for at least a short while.
These days, the idea of only one member of a couple being the one to bring home the bacon is more or less a thing of the past. But if you relocate to be with your partner, becoming heavily reliant on them will almost definitely be part of your future.
Since you’re probably going to be a long way from the support of friends and family back home, your partner will be your number one person to go to. What’s more, it’s inevitable that they’ll be more familiar with the area, people, and, in some cases, traditions and customs, than you are, so be prepared to ask for and take your partner’s advice.
It can also help to discuss the financial burden of relocating before you move. Bear in mind that it could take you a while to find work, or that you may not be able to work at all depending on your visa, so it’s essential that you both budget accordingly. If you’re uncomfortable with your partner shouldering both of your finances, make sure you secure a visa with working rights or have a padding of savings before you move so that you can share money matters between you both.
4. Making new friends is somehow both easier and harder at the same time.
The upside about moving to join your partner is that you’ll already have a ready-made group of friends: theirs. Get them to introduce you to as many people as possible and be as sociable as you can, especially during the first few months. It’ll take time, but eventually, you’ll start to feel less like “so and so’s significant other” and more like a member of their group of friends in your own right.
The downside is that, with this group of friends as well as your partner to hang out with, it’s tempting not to bother getting out and meeting new people. So, rather than just sticking with your partner and their friends, make an effort to join a local activity group or sports club and make your own friends. Remember, you still need your own life outside of your partner, and having your own friendship group is an excellent way to achieve this.
5. It’s an adventure.
When you’re trying to arrange a visa, create lifelong friendships, find a job, and not succumb to homesickness all at the same time, you might find yourself forgetting one of the most obvious facts about your situation: you’re somewhere new.
Relocating for love opens up countless new opportunities. You could have a once in a lifetime chance to learn a new language, discover a part of the world you’ve never visited before, or unearth locals-only secrets.
To help you get used to your new home, set aside time with your partner to discover your new home. Visit the main tourist attractions first, then ask your partner where their favorite places are or do your own research and see if you can unearth some hidden spots. This way, you’ll familiarize yourself with your new home, and your partner will get to see their home from your perspective.
6. If you’re with the right person, it’ll be the best decision you ever make.
At the end of the day, moving anywhere, even if it’s just down the road, because of someone else is a huge gesture. So, before you make the move, ask yourself, would you regret it if you didn’t? Would you spend the rest of your life looking back and wondering where you’d be if you had bought that one-way ticket, and if you had taken that leap? If the answer is yes, then buy the ticket and jump.
I did, and even though I’m still finding my feet, I’ve never looked back.