Life as an expat has both advantages and disadvantages and it is not always easy to adapt to a life that is very different from what you are used to back at home. But before you jump on the plane to leave your home country, there are a few things you definitely should know about moving to another country.
That is why we have created this guide to make things easier for you by providing you with some tips on what to think of before moving abroad as an expat.
Gather All Your Documents
Wherever you are to move, you will need to have gathered all the relevant documents and make sure that all the data is correct. All of your papers, documents, and certificates must get the proper notarized translation for them to be accepted. Documents such as your birth certificate, are essential to translate and bring with you as it confirms who you are. Also, remember to bring your work contract as it can come in handy when buying a home or renting a property.
We understand that you probably have access to many of these papers online, but it is best to bring hard copies as well. Make sure you take them on the plane with you so that you have quick access to all the documents you may need to rent a car, book a hotel room, or open a bank account as soon as you land in case your baggage gets misplaced.
Get to Know the Culture
Visiting a new city is not quite the same as actually living and working there. You will be spending the whole working week there, paying bills and waiting for a delayed bus. A good idea is to visit the city you are to live in before you move there. This way you can get tips, talk to people in the industry you are interested in working in and wander around in areas where you would like to live.
If you are moving abroad, chances are high that the country you are moving to has a different culture than your own. Learn what is socially acceptable and what is not tolerated.
Get to know your new country before you arrive. Or better yet, learn about the culture and the people and your move will be much smoother.
Create a Home
The saying ‘home is where the heart is’ is even truer when you have moved abroad. Whether you live in your own apartment, a shared one, or a condo, invest time and energy into making the place feel like a home.
Small simple details such as candles, soft blankets, colorful paintings, and pictures of loved ones will make so much difference.
Open a Bank Account
This is one thing that fits into the category of getting your finances in order. If you can, try to open a bank account once you arrive. When moving abroad, this is not always possible. Sometimes you may have to have an ID number determined by the new country, such as a social security number. But sometimes the banks can work with you to ensure that your finances are in order before the move.
Your job is to find out what is required in your new place of living. In this way, it will make life a lot easier for you once you are there. You would then avoid currency exchange fees or other unexpected fees. For example, you can book a hotel and use the local currency with your new bank and not have to worry about holding on and converting your money from one currency to another when you first arrive.
Learn the Language
If you don’t already know the language spoken in the country, be sure to sign up for language courses and learn some of the country’s language as soon as you can. There is nothing that will make you feel more isolated than not understanding the people around you.
Mastering a language takes years of practice. But if you just learn a few basic phrases, it will make a big difference. Learning what to say in a café or grocery store requires minimal effort, and you will feel a much greater connection to those around you.
Connect with Locals and Colleagues
We cannot emphasize this enough, that there will be days when you feel extreme homesickness. You will miss your old home, your friends and even some things that you cannot buy in your new country after moving abroad as an expat.
It is very important that you make contact with new people. Decide to meet for a coffee or brunch with your new co-workers, or volunteer with a local association to get to know some new faces. There are a lot of ways you can meet new people, both other expats from the same country as you, and locals in your new country.
If you are a naturally introverted person, at the end of a workday you might often long to come home and take it easy. If, on the other hand, you are outgoing and social, you have the great advantage of being able to broaden your network of contacts more easily. Say yes to drinks with colleagues after work hours as it is always a fun time and can be one of the ways to make new friends.
Make a life plan
Moving abroad as an expat is not easy. There will be times when you doubt your decision. But focus on thinking positively, no matter how difficult the situation is.
In moments of uncertainty, remind yourself of all of the life planning and decision-making you did in advance. Being reminded of your initial goals makes a world of difference. It will be a helping hand when you feel unsure about any aspect of additional education opportunities, career directions, and choosing your life priorities.
Moving to another country is for every person, both professionally and privately, a big step that brings a lot of challenges.
But for the expat, time abroad means not only a new, advantageous point in their CV but also a complete change in terms of the work and private environment. It is in the interest of the expat to begin to feel at home both at work and outside. Only in this way can the person concentrate fully on the new tasks and start delivering what the company expects.