Moving abroad is a big lifestyle change which will bring with it exciting experiences but inevitably some challenging moments too. To minimise stress it is important to plan, prepare everything you can, and practise self-care throughout the process.
When your moving date and destination are confirmed, begin researching. Think about your life at home, and consider which elements you want to carry over into your new adventure.
To begin forming your support network, looking online for meet-up groups and expat communities that you may like to be part of. Websites such as Meetup and InterNations are designed to unite like-minded people all over the world. You could look into exercise classes, groups, or gyms that you could join. Also consider joining a volunteering group, signing up for a sports team, or enrolling for language classes.
Being practical will help you get organised and work methodically through your tasks. Make lists, review your financial situation, note down what you need to do before you move, cross things off as you go, and recognise your achievements as you get things done. It is important that you take time for yourself throughout the process.
Spend time getting excited about your move. Look up things to see and places to visit, from museums and art galleries, to spas, concert halls, and local nature spots. Lonely Planet and National Geographic are great places to start; they combine captivating visuals with comprehensive information.
Look into both the prevalence of and the position towards any conditions you may have in your destination. If you take any prescription medication, research how you will obtain these in the future, and look up alternatives if necessary. Medication that is available without a prescription in some countries may require a prescriptions in others. It is also worth bearing in mind that medication often exists under different names around the world, or may only be available, or permitted, in certain countries. The World Health Organization National Medicines List and the U.S. National Library of Medicine Drug Information Portal may be good starting points for your research.
Check whether you need vaccinations, and book an appointment well in advance. The Travel Health Pro website can be a useful source of information for country-specific vaccine recommendations.
On the theme of being prepared, make sure you get all your necessary documents organised and ready in advance. Check the validity of your passport, make sure your International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis (ICVP) is up-to-date, and confirm whether you need a visa to move; your government and embassy websites might be good places to check this.
Get together your medical records, translate them if necessary, and make sure you have them to hand, safely packed in your hand luggage when you travel. Consider also translating a list of emergency contacts.
If you’re moving abroad to work you may need personal health insurance, check for information on international health plans.
Find out more about your destination; learning about your new home will help diminish the potential culture shock you will experience upon arrival and make it easier for you to set realistic expectations. Research the cultures, traditions, celebrations, and daily life of the place you’re moving to; read about local delicacies and incorporate them into your healthy lifestyle; and learn some key phrases so you feel in control when you first arrive.
If you know that certain things can trigger anxiety, stress, or depression, find out how prevalent they will be. Investigate whether you can avoid them, and consider researching ways to combat them.
As your moving date approaches, remind yourself of your reasons for moving, and think of all the exciting experiences that await you. Be aware of your stress signs, so that you can take time to recognise and overcome them. Make time for yourself, to prioritise your health and self-care, and treat yourself.
As you settle in to your new home, appreciate your achievements. Take each day as it comes, recognise the highs and lows, and celebrate everything you do.