Moving house is stressful. Moving abroad? An entirely different kettle of fish. A huge amount of planning and preparation goes into a relocation of any kind. Add in cultural differences, language barriers and potential homesickness and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
Whether you’re just moving yourself or taking the whole family, we’ve put together some tips to help make it a positive and enjoyable experience all round.
So take a few deep breaths, focus on making wonderful memories in your new home and it'll be better before you can count to 8...
1: Do your research
A lot of the fear of moving abroad comes from the unknown. You can alleviate this by taking some time to research your new home. Some good areas of research include:
- Social etiquette and behaviour
- Cultural differences
- Local laws
- Language and currency
- How local government/councils work
- Restaurants, shops and leisure facilities favoured by residents (so you can get off the tourist track and live like a local)
Travel books and guides are a good start but they will only provide basic tourist-targeted information. Look online for expat blogs and embassy websites that provide detailed advice from those who have gone before you.
2: Make friends before you get there
The internet is a wonderful thing. It has made the world a smaller and better-connected place. If you’re worried about feeling lonely in your new country, reach out to the locals before you even leave home.
The best way to do this is through online forums and public Facebook groups. There are hundreds of expat groups to connect with, so you’re bound to find like-minded, friendly people who already live in your new city. Get chatting, ask advice and arrange to meet up for a tour of their favourite spots when you’ve arrived.
3: Prepare for homesickness
Even well-travelled adventurers experience pangs of homesickness from time to time. It’s likely that you, your partner or the children will feel homesick at some point in the first few months and you’re probably already worried about this.
You can’t prevent homesickness but you can certainly make it easier to deal with. Make your new house comfortable and welcoming as soon as you can. Plan fun days out that will show the family how wonderful your new country is. Bring snacks and treats from home for a taste of the familiar. And don’t forget family and friends are only a Skype call away.
4: Keep a routine
In the hustle and bustle of preparing for a big move, and indeed during the move itself, it’s easy to fall out of your usual routines.
It’s actually really important to keep things as ‘normal’ as possible for yourself and the kids. Make an effort to keep to routines, particularly for eating and sleeping. Everything seems much less stressful when you’re well-fed and have had a full night’s sleep.
The kids will also transition better if during and after the move they stick to a schedule of attending school and socialising with their peers.
5: Schedule some ‘Me’ time
During a relocation you may feel like your life has become one giant chore; a never-ending to-do list of really tedious jobs. It’s hard to relax when you feel like that!
Take a break from the prep and the form-filling and the packing to look after you. Spend a couple of hours each week doing something you love. Whether that’s being pampered at the salon, participating in a sport, crafting, reading or binge-watching Netflix, don’t neglect the things that make you happy.
6: Get everyone involved
Whether making decisions about the new house, picking out the first week’s activities or packing up your belongings, get the whole family involved.
This tip has two benefits. First, you won’t have to do everything by yourself and second, by involving the children it can help alleviate some of their anxiety about the move.
In picking the toys they want to take with them, choosing the colour of their new room and getting excited about a day out, the kids will feel more in control of the move. They might even get excited. This, in turn, will reduce your own stress and since excitement is so contagious, you’ll start to feel more positive about the move too.
7: Plan a going away party
Leaving loved ones is never easy but you can soften the blow with cake! A going away party is a great opportunity to celebrate your new beginning and say goodbye to family and friends. It’s also a lot of fun and planning it a great distraction.
If you have children, throw two parties: one for the kids to say goodbye to their friends and one for adults only so you can cut loose a bit. You deserve a few drinks after all that hard work.
8: Embrace the adventure
You’re about to do something really wonderful: relocating is a huge milestone and an incredible opportunity for the whole family. If we could only give you one piece of advice it would be to embrace the adventure!
Embrace all the emotions the move brings too. Feelings of excitement, worry, stress and homesickness are all perfectly normal, so you shouldn’t beat yourself up about them.
We hope you found these tips helpful. Bon voyage!
Posted in Expat Resources on Jun 6 2017