Friday, 6 February 2015

Planning for a new life abroad – Five expats share their top tips

Packing up your whole life into suitcases is literally a life changing task. Where do you begin to plan for the trip of a lifetime and what do you really need once your reach your destination?

There are the basic elements of moving house that everyone will be aware of, but how do you know what you will really need when that move is to a house in another country?
A great bonus of becoming an expat is the international network that you are joining is full of people who have made the move away from home. There will always be someone who has already asked the same questions that you are asking now. Getting the insight of someone who has been there and done it and can give the best advice and inside knowledge - can be invaluable.

Our Expat Hints & Tips tools contain thousands of tips written by expats, for expats. Here are five of the best for making the move and adapting to your new life abroad:

1.       “Learn the language and see how things open up for you”- Berno


Not being able to speak the language is perhaps one of the largest barriers to feeling settled in a new place, but you’ll be surprised how quickly you can pick up a couple of phrases. It’s a daunting prospect, but worth throwing yourself straight into it. Start with a phrase book or take a look at the different language learning apps that are available, and take every opportunity you can to practice – whether that’s inviting a colleague for lunch or requesting something specific the next time you’re out shopping.

2.       “Walk as much as you can – it’s the best way to get to know a city” - Steph


By relying on public transport you will be missing out on getting to know the area you are in which could have many hidden surprises. By going for a stroll rather than jumping on a bus you will be able to discover a range of new places to eat, visit, hang out and it will give you a better bearing on your new local area. The thought of getting lost can be scary, but go prepared with a map or advice from your new neighbours and it becomes a great opportunity to explore and see what is right on your doorstep.

3.       “Go to the local coffee shop and talk with the people – this is a great way to get a better sense of the neighbourhood. Do your homework, and don’t just decide on a place because of…”


The local community are going to be by far the biggest asset in terms of finding the best that your local area has to offer. If you have moved to expand your business, join a local business networking group and offer something for free to get to know other businesses. This is a good way to establish yourself initially as a trusted and friendly business. For parents, make contact with a parenting group and schedule a play date for the first week before you even arrive.

4.       “Write down actually make a written list of what it is your looking for in your new country. The pros and cons. Location of property, local amenities, etc. If you have a partner…”


If you are moving with your partner, make sure you are moving as a team. If they have any worries, talk about them before you leave so that you have everything organised. It can be a great adventure to become an Expat couple so make the most of the opportunity by finding out what there is for both of you in your new destination and what you can do together. Be clear on what you are both hoping to gain from the move. Don’t jump into any big commitments until you have settled down and decided that the move was right for you.

5.       “Talk to locals or people that have lived there in preparing where to live etc. Always better to speak to people with local knowledge to help shape your opinions of places to live.”



Do your research and get second and third opinions, they will all help in not only building your new home overseas but in getting your new life abroad up and running.  Learning from those who also started from scratch just like you, will be an invaluable source of information and helpful tips. It’s also a fantastic way to start making new friends and creating new networks. If you are nervous about making the move on your own, see our blog here on making new friends abroad. 

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