When you’re planning on moving abroad, you tend to think about the property purchase, logistics of moving and the like. What some people forget to consider if the emotional side of moving abroad, it’s a big undertaking and you could find yourself feeling a little out of your depth when you first move. Use our pointers to help prepare yourself ahead of the move so you can make plans for your new life.
Naturally, some people settle quicker than others. Loneliness a very common expat problem, and can be one of the toughest issues to conquer. Leaving family and friends behind can be difficult and even if you quickly develop a network of friends in your new country, it is easy to still feel lonely from time to time.
The trick is to focus on your exciting future, put your energy into building a new life rather than focusing on what you’re leaving behind. You made the move abroad for a reason, after all! When you first arrive it can feel a bit like being at school for the first day, but in time those feelings should dissipate.
Ways to help yourself when you're missing home
- Push yourself to get out there and meet new people, socialise in local circles, immerse yourself in your new country.
- Try to avoid things that remind you of home when you first arrive – focus your energy instead on all the exciting aspects of your new life.
- You can re-invent yourself: Remember that no-one knows you, so you can let go of any of your hang ups from back home and embrace the ‘new you’
- Keep lines of communication with loved ones at home open, there are a number of ways to keep in touch, utilise Skype and Facetime to have almost face to face conversations
- Plan a visit home or a trip for friends to visit you – we’d recommend this rather than going back to visit when you first set up home as it could be easy to see your old life with rose tinted glasses if you’ve not given yourself the chance to immerse yourself into your new life
One of the toughest things to do when you move overseas is learn the language. Learning a language is a process that takes time, but by immersing yourself in the language full time you’re giving yourself a kickstart, it’s the quickest way to learn a language.
Here are few tips to help you learn the language:
- Take a course before you relocate abroad. If you sign up for a course you are more likely to complete it, rather than buying a phrase book. You could even meet a like-minded person who’s also moving abroad.
- Practice makes perfect, try and find people who speak the language and talk to them, you can also sign up online with a pen-pal who is learning your language and practice that way.
- Use language software online to learn the basics and keep going over what you learn
- Sign up for a language course when you arrive in your new home.
- Try to speak your new native language as much as possible, the locals will appreciate the effort and may help you with a few corrections.
Leaving behind your established support network can be daunting, and that separation from friends and family is a reason that many don’t take the leap and move abroad. However, along with tens of millions of other expats globally you have started the adventure for a reason, and there are ways to ease the process.
There is no quick fix for this, but it does get easier with time. As you make new friends, find groups of interest and join communities you’ll find a new sense of belonging that you were missing from home. Don’t forget also that your friends and family back home really are just a call away.
Suggestions to help deal with absence of your old support network:
- Keep in regular contact with friends and family back home.
- Start a hobby that involves interacting with people
- Take a language class, breaking down any language barrier will make it easy to integrate with the community and you’re very likely to find other English speakers
- Get out in the community, introduce yourself to your neighbours and meet people – the sooner the better with this one, as time goes on it gets harder to be friendly to those local to you if you started off on the wrong foot
- Plan a trip for your friends or family to visit you – this one helps across the board really!
Making new friends as an adult is not easy, especially in an unfamiliar environment. This issue can be compounded by a language barrier and the different culture, but it doesn’t last forever so give it some time.
Creating a social might take a little while. If you have made the move abroad with your partner or family this may be less apparent, but for those expats who are living overseas by themselves it can be lonely to start with. You’re not alone, there are likely to be people in the same boat as you who would be grateful for your friendship.
Here’s a couple of suggestions to help make friends when living abroad
- Introduce yourself to your neighbours and co-workers whenever you get the chance.
- Say yes to invitations, even if it seems a little scary, you’ll be glad you went in the long run.
- Seek out expat communities and groups in the area. Maybe join a local sports club or gym.
- Sign up for a course, perhaps a language course which will kill a few birds with one stone.
- Speak to co-workers or neighbours about local events.
- Identify expat forums which discuss your area and have a conversation.
- Use the local amenities regularly.
- Offer to volunteer at events in the area or for a local charity.
Keeping the ones you brought with you happy
A move to a different country can be hard for trailing spouses or families, and keeping them happy will naturally be on top of your priority list so could be a source of stress for you. Moving abroad with children in tow brings with it additional stress.
A key factor to making the move abroad with your family a success is making sure that all parties want to move as much as the others, or at least that everyone is as happy as they can be about the move. It is well reported that a move overseas can put significant strain on relationships. It’s a brave undertaking, and all being on the same page will help endlessly.
Ways to help your loved ones in their new life
- Identify the best schools before moving abroad
- Encourage your kids to make friends in the same ways you plan to. Look for groups or clubs they might enjoy.
- ‘Play dates’ may help your children integrate at school and in the community.
- Suggest a get together with co-workers – your company may have a ‘settling in’ scheme.
Healthcare is a vital issue which you should address ahead of your move. At some point, everyone needs medical assistance, and this can be a concern for expats who are new to their country. Healthcare is different all over the World so it is worth doing your research before you go and make sure you have appropriate cover in place to avoid any problems.
Here are few things to check for:
- Investigate the standard of any national healthcare system or private healthcare in your new country.
- Check whether there is any difference between medical services for residents and expats.
- Will the healthcare service become available to you at some point? What do you need to do to receive this healthcare?
- Would private healthcare be a better option for you?
- If you take regular medication make sure you can take it into the country and that it is available there.
- Do you need health insurance? If so, what type? Consider your options.
- On a slight tangent, another thing to consider: make a note of the location of the nearest hospital and pharmacy.
Head over to our healthcare around the world blog for more information.
Everyone’s moving abroad experience will be different and you’ll learn your own coping mechanisms along the way, the key is to throw yourself into your new life with enthusiasm and always remember that whilst it may not all be plain sailing, your new reality was once your dream life.