Living abroad is an adventure that you want to get right in the first go. You have always looked at travelling with a traveler’s eyes, but now your perspective must change so that you can make the best out of your expat experience.
1) Planning is key
Prep-work is vital in the kitchen, but it’s as valuable when you’re travelling. Making a new life from scratch is a bit harder than baking a pie, so what you do before you’re settling in is as important as the fresh experience you’re going to have.
2) Go on a little holiday first
Don’t buy it till you try it! If you have job prospects in a certain country and you’re thinking of moving, get some time off and spend a few days in the heart of the city you’re thinking of making a home. See how you feel, get a taste of it and familiarize yourself with the idea of actually living there. Figure out how you fit in, how the weather is working for you and what the people are like. It will at least make you feel more comfortable and confident about your prospective new home before signing that work contract.
3) Make lists
Nothing is worse than the feeling that you have forgotten something. When you’re planning a year or more away from home, there are so many things you have to consider that sometimes some are lost on the way. This is why the list is your friend. In fact, making lists may even benefit your health.
Lists you should make are: What documents you need, What things you need to pack, What contracts you need to cancel, What things you should throw away from your current house, What valuable things you have and what you plan to do with them, What moving companies you want to get in contact with.
4) Pack light
If you’re planning to have your piano sent from 2,000 kilometers away to your new home, you’re not starting right. One of the toughest parts of moving abroad is the stuff; the dreaded stuff you carry around and can never part with will give you a lot of grief if you don’t decide to take only what you need.
Expats who change countries frequently are advocates of light travelling. Take a leaf from their book and make a list of what you want to take, and then ruthlessly edit it till you have a just the essential collection. And don’t forget – there are most probably shops where you are going and you can buy anything you need as and when you need it, and you will want to acquire some nice new clothes from the place you are staying, anyway.
5) Ask your new colleagues
The first things you should cover are basic needs: housing, healthcare and food.
It will be much easier to find a local to help you and your new company can provide someone if you ask. This will mean you’ll see the right real estate agencies, go on the right property websites and not have to research health policies for hours.
Ask where people in the company live. Don’t stay too far away from the city centre or, alternatively, ask about vivid neighborhoods and areas, because you want to be close to where the action is.
Ask where people usually shop, how often they go out and what a working day looks like. Get as much as you can from them, because they’re your best bet for making some good, obvious choices and not getting tricked by expat-specializing real estate companies who make a living out of people’s ignorance.
6) Home away from home decorating – find balance
Your new residence should feel like your home away from home. If you’re travelling by yourself, your new place will seem cold at first, so it’s up to you to make it warmer and cozier. This is easy and fun and it involves getting beautiful art for your walls, filling a bookcase with your favorite authors, personalizing the rooms with inexpensive things which reflect your personality, like lampshades, bed covers, curtains, carpets or posters – perhaps items you have collected on your travels. Decorate with a mix of a few things you brought from back home, like pictures of your loved ones or trinkets you love and have kept for years, along with the new objects from your new life.
7) Stay positive
Sometimes keeping a positive attitude feels impossible when the expat chips are down, which does happen from time to time. But if you focus on the outer world, you can at least try to. Little things like not complaining about your new life, keeping in touch with your family and friends and sharing your life with them all the time, listening to your favorite music, going out and making friends, will all help you counter those inevitable blues that sometimes come to ruin a good expat day.
8) It’s the experience of a lifetime – go and grab it!
The bottom line is moving abroad is inevitably a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s amazing, terrifying, surprising and wonderful all at once.
Sometimes, you’ll feel a bit under, but always keep in mind that, when all this is over, you’ll never regret it. The only thing that you can ever regret is holding back, refusing opportunities and shying away from new experiences. Don’t do that, because they may only come once in a lifetime.
TOP IMAGE: Via Pixabay