Relocating to a new country comes with a significant set of challenges – whether you are moving because of a job opportunity, to challenge yourself to a new world, or for family reasons; a transition abroad involves a great deal of planning and preparation.
But there’s no need to be afraid. More than ever, people are becoming globally mobile individuals, moving from one country to another for many different reasons – and the vast majority of expats treasure their experience and agree the journey is well worth the challenge.
The experience for every expat is unique, but you can take some advice from people who have lived and worked abroad to help you manage expectations. To help you through the process of relocating abroad, we have put together this list with the top 10 tips for a smooth transition.
- Learn in advance
Learning in advance about the country and the cultural aspects will help you prepare and know what to expect. If you know where you will be living, you can research online before your move for places you may need to frequent in the area, or find out about transport options. Read up on the basics of business etiquette in your new place, and whether there are some general social rules you should follow.
If you don’t speak the local language, try learning some basic words and sentences; there are plenty of tools online that can help you.
- Engage with your new community
The best way to immerse yourself in a new culture is to go out and share with the locals. Get inspired about how much you can learn about the culture, attend events, participate in community meetings, try out new sports or local activities; it will all help you to adjust and feel at home in no time.
- Keep doing the things you love
Trying new things and engaging in activities with your new community is important to adjust to your new environment; but doing the things that gave you great satisfaction back home are equally as important.
Look for ways to keep practicing the sports you love, or find activity groups you can join to keep your hobbies alive. Not everything has to change, and there is nothing wrong with keeping up with regular routines that contribute to your mental health and happiness.
- Ensure you have a good health cover
No matter where is the world you go, a health cover for you and your family is essential. It’s very important to consider the implications for expatriates in your new location – some countries provide subsidised state healthcare; however, some do not.
Understanding how the healthcare system works in a different country can be complicated. In many cases, expats opt for an international health insurance plan that can ease much of the stress; attend your queries in a familiar language, and ensure you can get the best treatment whenever it’s needed.
- Don’t stop exploring
One of the greatest things about being an expat is that you can turn any day into an adventure – explore your surroundings to discover what they have to offer. You can always visit new places nearby and find out about new shops, museums, parks, or anything that excites you.
Any location can have things to offer and hidden gems such as landmarks, historic places or unique architecture. You can also work out at the same time you explore, and take advantage of new cycle routes or local hiking paths. Whether your stay is permanent or temporary, try and make the most of your time.
- Connect with other expats
We live in a globalized world, and expats communities are growing worldwide at a very fast pace. Wherever you go, you will most certainly find other expats and international groups that support foreign communities.
Integrating with expat groups might help you to gain some cultural knowledge of your new place, especially during the first weeks, and it will allow you to interchange views and ideas with people from other places.
- Look after yourself
Moving to a new home can be exhausting, and moving abroad is 10 times worse. With all the complications involved in travelling and sorting your relocation, it can be easy to forget about your health and wellbeing, but try hard not to neglect this essential part of your life.
Looking after yourself will keep you healthy and mentally strong towards the new changes – eat well, exercise and get sufficient sleep; this will all help you to manage your sense of wellbeing as you immerse yourself in your new environment.
- Keep in touch
As exciting as expat life can be, it can sometimes get isolating. It’s very common for most expats to miss their social network and find difficult to assimilate that they live far from their loved ones. Staying in contact with your friends and family at home can give you some comfort while away.
In this time an age, however, it’s not so difficult to stay in touch. Make use of the many tools and new technologies that facilitate getting in touch with your friends and family, and try visiting them when possible.
- Keep an open mind
Adjusting to a new culture can take time. You may find that attitudes that are popular in your home country may not be well received in your new location. It’s not a case of right and wrong. A respectful and open-minded approach will help you to understand the cultural differences and embrace the change.
An open mind also allows you to absorb and learn about different aspects of your new country, contributing to a smoother transition.
- Stay positive
Moving to another country and immersing yourself in a different culture can be as exciting as it is overwhelming. It’s important to stay positive about the change, and remind yourself that, despite the setbacks, life abroad is a great life experience that opens many doors.
New cultures usually bring you the opportunity to experience entirely different things; new food, see new places to visit, new sports to learn, and much more. Each country has its perks and peculiarities, and embracing the adventure will most certainly enrich your life.