Enjoy living abroad: Tips for being an expat

Wonen en werken in het buitenland

Living and moving abroad doesn’t seem like such a big deal anymore, but it can be a big deal for the person moving! There is an abundance of information for those travelling solo and why you should do it, but this blog includes personal reasons why you should consider moving abroad solo, or with family.

It’s not always about the process of how and when to move abroad, but it’s about the why, and the confidence to make the decision. If you’re sitting there thinking “where do I start” consider this list of reasons and get planning! This guide will help you to learn how to feel at home in a foreign country, no matter if you are only there for a couple of months or forever, spending time in another country is an opportunity to reinvent yourself and your morals! It is a fresh chance to build a new life that’s authentically yours in a country that isn’t.

Before you hop on a plane, here are your tips to enjoying expat life:

Do your homework

  • It’s always a good idea to visit any place you are considering moving too (several times, if possible). Getting to know the small towns is harder than getting to know the city, just because you had an amazing weekend somewhere doesn’t mean you are going to live in the exact same spot and have the same experiences.
  • Consider your reasons for going. Do not rush into moving abroad! Write a pros and cons list and speak to friends and family to get advice. This move may be your dream but you do not want to rush into it – you want to be ready!
  • Think of all the important things that no one wants to think about – such as directing mail, having a complete physical at the doctor and the dentist and dealing with any medicines you may need!
  • When packing, lay out all your clothes and all your money, then half the clothes and twice the money. You can always re-stock and upgrade your wardrobe at any time, but only a good financial plan for a move can help you out in an unforeseen emergency.
  • Really research into where you want to live within the country. Fair enough you may want to live in a particular country for the health, cultural or any reason, but finding your own town to call ‘home’ is one of the most important parts of your planning.

Learn the language

  • We know that this is a bold statement and not as easy one. But have some patience and take your time with this!
  • Look up private or free classes – this will allow your learning to skyrocket. Start by focusing on the topics that you may need, such as vocabulary or simple, basic terms to get you through the day (such as ordering a coffee or paying in the supermarket)
  • If you allow yourself the time and ask those around you to try speaking in the language to you from time to time, it will help! Keep your progress steady and gradual, the more you know of the language, the more enjoyable and comfortable your life will become.

Dealing with Culture Shock

  • Don’t accept cultural stereotypes as actual facts, try to see differences as just differences! Nothing accounts to why you moved abroad or your ability to adapt.
  • Accept that you will always stand out as a foreigner. You may struggle to fit in with a small neighbourhood or town not even a city, and it’s okay! The benefits are that you can follow your traditions from home and adapt uniquely on your own which is a very rewarding feeling.
  • Don’t ignore the homesick feeling! Accept this as natural but don’t forget to apply home remedies, such as particular foods or a care package from home. No matter the person or situation, everyone has or will experience this within their life, if symptoms persist for a while, keep it easy and take regular walks and phone home more, it will pass.

As hard as it sounds, try to make friends!

  • When moving to a new place, be open to all opportunities that may lead to social interactions – say yes whenever you can!
  • Locals might love to hear about your own country and culture, but keep it to a minimum. Try your best to learn about them and the country you are living, locals give the best recommendations remember.
  • Consider joining a social club or expat group. We know we suggest meeting as many locals as you can, but there’s nothing better than a friendly face who knows exactly how you feel – another expat! If it’s to get your mind off the homesick feeling or even just for a coffee, this is a perfect opportunity.
  • Please don’t isolate yourself! Moving abroad is overwhelming, we all have days where we don’t want to leave the house, but the more you get out and interact with your new world, the sooner it will start feeling like home.

Dive into the business culture

  • Make sure you do some research on the business customs before you arrive, although you will learn so much more once you start! Spending time talking and listening to others in your company and your field to find out what to expect is the best form of learning.

Step out of your comfort zone

  • You are moving to a completely new country, new culture and new people, scary, right? It doesn’t have to be! Positive mental attitude is the best way forward, embrace the new cultures, chat to every local and indulge in the local life. But don’t worry, all the feelings that come along with the move, the ones before you step on the plane or even a few months after – these feelings are natural and everything happens for a reason. Try to stick it out but don’t forget that a phone call home isn’t far away.