MOVING 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.
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 pie, so what you dobefore you’re settling in is as important as the fresh experience you’re going to have.
Go on a little holiday
Don’t buy it till you try it! If you have job prospects from 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 how the people are like. You’ll have a much better start for deciding if it’s time to go or it’s time to wait for something better.
Nothing is worse than the feeling that you have forgotten something at home. When you’re planning a year 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.
If you’re planning to have your piano sent from 2000 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 reasonable collection.
Find a ‘wingman’
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 center 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 how 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.
Your new residence should make you feel at 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. Decorate with a mix of things you got from back home, like pictures of your loved ones or trinkets you love and have kept for years, and new objects from your new life.
Canvas art depicting natural sceneries is a good way to liven up a room and to give it a relaxing, calming aura you will really need.
Of course, keeping a positive attitude sounds impossible to do, at first. 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 help you counter those inevitable blues that sometimes come to ruin a good day.
The bottom line is moving abroad is a rollercoaster of emotions. It’s amazing, scary and surprising 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. They might only come once in a lifetime.