Whether you’re traveling for your education, for a career move, or simply for a new start in life, it’s important to recognize that you’ve set out quite a challenge for yourself. Life as an expatriate, or someone living in a different country, isn’t always easy, nor is it cheap. Here, I’m going to share a few tips to help you make the move as safely as possible and get used to your new environment.
Know what to expect when you arrive
Doing plenty of research on what it’s like to arrive in your country of choice is crucial. First of all, you need to know about the customs and immigration control procedures of the country and make sure that you’re not doing anything that could see you barred from access. It’s wise to look up specific guides for the legal differences between where you’re coming from and where you’re arriving, too. There are going to be lots of different laws, and some of them are going to be surprisingly easy to break for the uninitiated.
Get help with entry early
Even before the move, it’s important that you recognize the circumstances on which you’re allowed to emigrate to the country you want to live in. Most countries have specific criteria that you have to meet, and some are stricter than others. Getting advice from a counselor from the Home Office or embassy can help, but it’s wise to get in touch with immigration solicitors if you want to make sure that you have the chance of gaining entry. Don’t leave it until you arrive at the country, that might only make it harder to get the legal permissions you need to stay. And nobody wants to be turned away at the door!
Getting acclimated to a new culture
If you’ve been able to enter and stay legally and safely, found your home, and started to get settled, then the most pressing matters are out of the way. However, the move can be quite a challenging one, emotionally, not just logistically. Culture shock is a serious concern, so it’s best to learn as much of the culture as you can. A visit to the country you want to move to in advance is always recommended, but it’s best to talk to other expats and learn the major cultural differences they have noted.
Start making friends
Moving to a new home can be quite a lonely experience if you’re doing it alone, and when it’s an entirely different country, that loneliness can only be further amplified. The internet can be a great help in helping you make friends, whether through social apps or finding local meetups and hobbyist groups near you. Joining a club or activity is the easiest way to start meeting like-minded people but take it easy and don’t go in with any expectations. Let friendships form naturally.
While the tips above highlight some of the road bumps you might expect and what you can do about them, it’s important to make sure that you seek out the advice of other expats who have made the exact same move you’re making. Their first-hand experience can be even more valuable!
Have you ever lived in a different country? What was it like and what advice do you have for others considering taking the plunge??
-This post was made in collaboration with Fat Joe.-