So, you are ready to go and start your new life overseas? That’s great news! Here are some tips for new expats you should keep in mind before taking off and touch base in a foreign land. Trust us on this one, we speak from personal experience!
aka get rid of (most of) your stuff! If you downsize your belongings and the get rid of the things you no longer use/need, your move will be much easier (and cheaper!). Remember that in most countries you will find all the things you need and thinking to move furniture, too many clothes, and accessories, is always a bad idea, especially since every expat who moves abroad, feels the urge to buy new, exotic, locally-made things in the new location. Keep in mind that “stuff” weighs you down both on a physical and emotional level, so only take what you really need and let the rest go. ?
Save. Save. Save.
Wherever you are going, my personal advice is to save more cash than you think you need (yes, even if you are moving to a country with a lower cost of living to your home country). There are always exceptions or expensive emergencies, so be prepared and make sure to have a fat saving account before leaving. (experience speaking again here….)
Make time to explore your new surroundings
Take time to visit the country first. If you are due to start your new job or university course in September, try and move there in August, if you can. It will help you to feel at home and to familiarise with your new base. It will also help you to learn your way around as well as finding the most convenient shops, maybe already meet some locals and enter the expat community (yup! you guessed right again, personal London experience!)
Work on your patience and flexibility beforehand
Things might be better or worse at your destination, but whatever they are, they will be different. Make sure to practice your patience and learn to be flexible, it will make your life easier! (hands down, I was so frustrated with public transports in India!!)
Immerse yourself in your new home. This might sound a bit too extreme, but you will only be able to embrace your new environment when you close down that thought about home. It will also help you to get over the initial homesickness if you experience as much as you can right from the beginning. Eat strange food, visit museums, temples, churches and neighbourhoods, speak to the locals, leave your guide behind and get lost!
Research, study, open your mind
You might have an idea of the culture of the country you are moving too, but my advice is to really learn everything about it before you move there. Get a library card or buy some books about your destination: there is so much more you can learn about London from a Charles Dickens novel or about Paris in a Hemingway romance that you will ever find in a travel guide. If you have friends or long distance relatives there, then get in touch with them, even if it might seem awkward at the beginning, (almost) everybody will be happy to help you or point you in the right direction on your first steps as an expat.
Learn the language
Exactly like the point above, make sure to make time to learn the language of where you are going to live. It doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll need to be fluent, but you need to at least learn the basics to get around, as well as make easier for those first relationships at school or work. Even if in your uni or workplace everybody speaks English, I would recommend you to learn as much as you can in the local language before moving abroad. You will feel SO much better for being able to catch a few sentences and interact with people right away. And yes, even if you are moving from and to an English-speaking country, communication can be difficult: ask a Canadian who has moved to Scotland or Ireland and I know they had as many troubles as if I moved to China!
If you are lucky enough to have always had your meals cooked, your clothes washed and ironed, if you never did your food shopping and have no idea how to do your bed in the morning, well, it is now time to learn all these fundamental chores. Maybe start 6 months before your departure date and by the time you leave you will have one cultural shock less to deal with. Especially on the food side, maybe get yourself a recipes book or even a well-cured blog and try out some recipes for your family and friends. Just a short list of your favourites will get you a long way, also to impress your new uni friends and new colleagues (yes, you got it right, we, Italians, use food to seduce and so much more :P)
Think about your accommodation in advance
We’re here to help you finding your perfect nest. If possible, get to know your new country really well so that you can narrow your search to a few selected areas. Our blog posts also can help you to familiarise with the cities and areas to make your move abroad even easier or you can browse the Spotahome page for accommodation in various cities across Europe and soon the entire world.
Don’t go home!
This is the most important tip to have a great expat experience. Force yourself to stop thinking about your home, family and friends and definitely do not compare your home country to your new place, that would just kill the vibe. Don’t look back (too often) and set yourself a goal to not go back (6-12 months is a good timeline to really embrace the new place and culture). Learn to live and love the present: you are creating some of the best memories of your life. “Beware of moving overseas! It’s tough, confusing, disorienting… and ultimately, extremely rewarding. When you move back home, if you ever do, you’ll be a different person than you were when you first left.” Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity
…here are some other articles you might fancy…
- World’s Craziest LGBT Pride Parades
- What Nobody Tells You About Being An Au Pair
- What To NEVER Do In Istanbul
- 12 Free Essential Apps for Living Abroad