Tips for soon-to-be expats
Perhaps you have been planning a move overseas for a years or maybe this relocation has come as surprise due to a career move; either way, there is a lot to consider.
Preparing well for the move before you leave will help you in so many ways; for example, language skills acquired now will make life so much easier for you when you arrive. Knowing what you can and cannot purchase in your new country will help you decide what to take with you.
Here are some tips and further reading options for you to help you on your way to your new life.
The internet has opened up a multitude of options for researching so make use of it. Other ideas on how to research your new country can be found here.
Go on a ‘look-see’ visit if you can. I’ve never been able to do this and may have had different experiences if I had – and not necessarily for the better! Do whatever works for you. Check out all the different areas to find out where to live and perhaps give house-sitting a go before you commit to settling in one area.
Understand the climate. You don’t want to take winter gear with you if you are moving to the tropics. Having said that, also consider where you might holiday from that country. We didn’t bring our German-bitterly-cold-winter clothing to South Africa with us. But then we went on holiday to the Drakensberg mountains in winter. Brr!
You don’t have to follow the status quo of all expats in that country. Don’t be afraid to question something if it doesn’t feel right for you and your family. If it’s something as important as choosing a school overseas for example, look into the alternatives as they may be a better fit for your children.
Try to learn some basic language skills – I know you’re incredibly busy right now, but being able to say “hello”, “please”, “thank you”, “goodbye” and “I don’t understand” when you get off the plane will help you a lot. Add in a few directions, numbers and foods and your first few days will be so much easier. Here are some ideas on how to learn a language for free.
Kids pick up languages really quickly and you can help them with this in some entertaining ways such as setting a favourite DVD to a different language. More tips here.
Will you take your pet abroad with you? Relocating overseas with pets isn’t impossible but you do have to plan well and stick to a strict schedule with regards to paperwork and vaccinations.
Start decluttering now. You’ll be surprised how much extraneous ‘stuff’ you have. And how hard it is to get rid of it! Tackle one cupboard / room at a time and separate everything into keep, store, sell, give away, and dump. Once you’ve sorted one cupboard, deal with the decluttered stuff right away. Having it hanging around is not good and you will rifle though and keep more than you need.
Find a removal company. Best done when you have worked out precisely what you will be taking with you. Here are some excellent tips for choosing an international removal company.
Get your finances in order. Aim to leave a bank account open in your home country in case of emergencies. Sort out how you will make currency transfers to ensure you get the best deal for your money.
Keeping in touch
How will you keep in touch with your friends and family? Most people are connected online nowadays – but not all. My mother, for example, doesn’t even use a mobile phone. Download Skype now. It’s invaluable for being able to see and speak to loved ones at home and even if your contact doesn’t have a computer you can get a Skype phone where they only dial a local number to reach you. Keeps the costs of international phone calls down!
This is only a fraction of the amount of planning you need to do before you move abroad for the first time. But take heart – it’s all completely do-able and you will have an amazing adventure. For more in-depth articles on all subjects, please visit the Planning and Preparation section of ExpatChild.com.
Good luck, bon voyage and enjoy your new adventure!