Tips for First-Time Expats

Moving to another country can be a challenging experience, but these tips will set a first-time expat on the right track to a wonderful life abroad.

To move abroad and live the life of an expat is definitely a road less traveled. It can make you feel like Robert Frost as written in his poem: ‘Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back’. And like he says, to take the road less traveled is what makes all the difference. This can be one step in the right direction or the wrong one. It depends on how you respond to the situation and take proactive steps to not encounter any setbacks. Some tips that will help first-time expats when they fly off and touch base in their new country.

Consider your accommodation.

Before you make a decision, get to know where you are going first very well. If possible try to pre-visit the location. Check out different areas where you may get the accommodation and look for possibilities of relocation. Relocation agents can offer great help with that. This will also help you form an idea of the lifestyle you will live – what housing fits your budget range, or if there decent schools nearby.

Inform family members.

Make sure there is mutual satisfaction among the family members. Decisions can’t be made alone. Your partner, children, parents and anyone living with you should be happy to agree to the idea of you (or them) moving abroad and to adjust to a completely new location. Not having consent or being forceful will lead to personal and emotional problems that can hinder your effectiveness in your new country and workplace.

Learn the language

You need to learn the language. It is important you learn at least the basics to get around, as well as to boost relationships in the workplace. Don’t wait until the last minute and expect you’ll do fine when you get there. If you don’t speak the native language, you might find yourself in need of help all the time. Learn as much as you can before moving to your new country, or at least learn some of the most commonly used words so you can ask basic questions.

Welcome independence

If you have always been dependent on others (parents, spouse or siblings), you’re going to have a hard time abroad. It’s very important to learn to do things yourself, as initially in a new country you may not have anyone around to help you. Know how to wash clothes, to cook a meal, or how to light a gas water heater aren’t things you want to have to learn when you have just arrived in your new country.

Do your research

Check out the website of the host country’s embassy. Go through the local customs, cultures, and laws of the country to avoid any trouble or cultural issues, and find out if you need anything particular to that country, like vaccinations or medications you need to bring from home.

Be realistic

Thinking that your new life abroad will be one long dream, is a mistake. There are for sure many attractive points to living abroad, but the regular, daily tasks are the same anywhere you live. Remember that you are not a tourist on a vacation. You’ll be an expat hired by your company on a mission to reach a certain target, or for whatever reason, you moved to a new country. So, remain focused on it!

Choose a busy location initially

Select a spot where you can find almost everything available nearby. To live in the middle of nowhere can be very difficult when setting up a new home abroad, and will isolate you in case you would like to meet new people. Make sure that healthcare services, stores, and supermarkets are nearby your home. When you get to know a city well, it will be a lot easier to find a quieter location that suits you or your family – and then you might have the facilities you need, such as a car.

Make new friends

If you prefer to skip out on friendships or social meetings and would like to live alone in a peaceful place, that will be okay. However, there will be a moment when you’ll start to feel the desire to talk to someone or to have a chat – both with local and other expat friends. By not isolating yourself from others you can greatly improve your life at your new home. Let the locals know a bit about you and let them return the favor. You’ll learn so much from them very quickly. It is also a great way to build your network, which in a lot of countries, are the key to finding a perfect job or house.

Deal with homesickness

This is essential for ’embracing independence’. If you continue to think about your home and how the grass was greener there, it will be very difficult for you to live away from your home. Don’t look back. Give yourself a minimum amount of time (a minimum of three to six months) where you don’t allow yourself to consider going back. Learn to appreciate just where you are, and this thought will keep you going!

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