The global immigration activity has reached all-time high in 2011. Many are leaving Europe searching for job opportunities in Canada, Australia and the United States. There is also increasing number of Americans leaving for Asia for job opportunities; and for Australia, there was a record number of Australians left Australia in 2010, which reached 100,000 for the first time.
No matter what your reason is, immigration does bring significant opportunities for many, but it can also be a nightmare for some as well. It is a life-time changing decision, I have done it twice in my life.
Here are 10 essential questions you should ask yourself before the big decision:
1. Cost of Living
This is probably the biggest factor why many immigrants are struggling in the new country. This is often as the result of lack of research than anything else. Also, misunderstanding the taxation system is a common problem; many were led to job opportunities that have higher income, but only found out the cost and tax is much higher than their home country. The cost of living “shock” is a common problem for new immigrants in Australia, Europe and Asia; and less so in North America.
Each country operates differently, and fluctuation in exchange rate can also make a big impact on living cost. Asia, for instance, has lower tax but higher grocery and housing cost compared to many parts of North America. Australia & Europe are both highly taxed places, so your income will be reduced by the taxation automatically.
2. Job Prospect
Your experience and skills can be very difficult to be recognized in a new country, this is a common frustration for many newly arrived immigrants. If you wish to stay in the same industry, this often means retraining is required, also language training. Medical, education and engineering skills are transferrable, but usually require further gap training.
Jobs prospects is a difficult process ‘” for many Indian and Asian IT professionals, they prefer to go to the US because of the size of the IT industry there as opposed to Canada or Australia which have relatively smaller IT industries.
But if you are in the mining industry, then you can consider Australia, Canada or southern US states to pursue your career there.
3. Business Opportunities
Immigrants should learn how to adapt to new life as job expectation can be very disappointing and a long process in many cases. We have seen many frustrations by new immigrants unable to find position they desire. For such reason, many immigrants also start their new career by setting up their new business, and often result into successful businesses.
I met a telecommunications engineer from Israel the other day, he now runs a successful window manufacturing and installation company. I met a Chinese medical journalist last week; and he owns 2 coffee shops now.
If you are considering moving to a new country, consider if you can set up a business opportunity there as an option.
Do not assume the education system is similar in all English speaking nations. The education system in Australia, Canada and the United States are all completely different. Simple things like lunch programs, school bus or curriculum are all different. Availability of extracurricular programs and help is another factor to consider.
5. Multicultural Society
Unfortunately, racism does exist everywhere. Certain cities are multicultural cities on their own with fairly integrated multicultural societies, cities like New York City, Toronto, Sydney, San Francisco, Los Angeles are all well integrated multicultural societies; where everyone is from out-of-town. Some cities, however, still have problems in accepting multiculturalism, and it can be difficult for immigrants to find opportunities in these places.
6. Government Support
Government support comes in different ways. In Canada, there are settlement centres which they help you in settling into Canada; this ranges from job finding, skills training, English training as well as providing financial support for families. Other supports include providing childcare facilities; also facilities at local communities. Both Canada & the US have school bus systems for school children as an example.
7. Medical & Healthcare
The medical & healthcare system can be very confusing. There are essentially 2 types of systems in place. Free / Government sponsored healthcare system ‘” as in Canada and Australia. The disadvantages are much higher tax, long waiting period, and sometimes lack of doctors and facilities. The other system is the user-pay system, where you need private healthcare, in some cases, this means better hospitals, more doctors; but you do pay higher premium, but also less tax.
You may not think transportation is a factor when you are considering immigration. In many cities in Canada, Australia and the United States; driving is the only way for commuting. For many immigrants, driving can be a challenge due to different road conditions and seasons (winter driving is a major risk for many immigrants in North America). In addition, you may also need to apply for a new driver’s license, and this can delay in your settling process as well.
Choice in this case means where you can live. If you do not like a particular city, can you move to another city? For many countries, the choices are often limited ‘” let’s take example: Hong Kong or Singapore where the city is the country itself. Australia, for example, has most of its business activities and jobs in 3 cities. Some cities are more acceptable to multicultural communities than smaller regional communities.