What to do during the first weeks upon arrival
So you moved, now what?
You already went through all the stress and preparations and have now safely arrived at your new home.
Breathe out. One difficult and important step is behind you, but there’s still a lot to be done. Right now you can sit back and feel overwhelmed or dive into the expat life and help your family settle down as soon as possible.
We moved as a family between UK, Germany, China, Russia and Czech Republic and here are seven tips, based on our experience, on what to do during those first few weeks upon arrival:
- Legal. First and foremost, make sure that all your documents are in order – visas, police registrations, tax authorities. More often than not you would have a deadline for sorting out all of the above, so make sure to deal with that straight away.
- Make your house a home. Even if you rented a furnished apartment, there are always things missing and your own belongings would take ages to arrive, if you used a container shipment. As many times as we moved, there was always a trip to Ikea involved.
- Medical. If you haven’t got an insurance from your home country covering you in this new place, get the local one. Find out what to do, when you need medical help – doctor’s contacts, hospitals, emergency phone numbers. It would be a good idea to visit a paediatrician with your kids to get them registered. Locate the closest pharmacy and check the opening hours. For example, most pharmacies in Germany and Czech Republic are closed on Sundays and at night, whereas most of them work around the clock in Russia.
- Education. I think, you would have already researched this topic before the arrival. Now you can visit local kindergartens and schools to make all the final preparations for your kids’ studies.
- Shopping. Check out your local shops – it always feels better, when you know where to find your favourite food, especially when you have small kids at home, who are used to certain products. I like to have an option of online shopping for buying bulky items. Most online store services would also offer a version in English.
- Explore the area. Read up on your new home town and get out and about to explore the most interesting places. Show your kids what’s great about it to make this expat experience more enjoyable.
- Learn essential words. It’s always useful to learn the local language, at least a few phrases. You can greet people or thank them without being stuck for words. This knowledge would always come in handy in your daily life.
I would strongly recommend to research all of the above topics before the move. Nowadays, there are plenty of internet resources, where you can find the relevant information. And if you can’t find it – ask a question on a local expat forum or a blog and you will surely get help from there.
The most important thing to remember is that right after the move you might be stressed and tired, therefore, you could see your new home town in a negative light. Let it pass and try to find all the reasons to like this place – whether you will be happy or not as an expat depends a lot on the attitude.
By Yuliya Khilko
Yuliya Khilko is the author of www.TinyExpats.com. You can follow @tinyexpats on Twitter and Instagram or like TinyExpats page on Facebook.
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I experienced so much of this when we moved from the US to Thailand close to a year ago. I feel like I’m only now starting to get the hang of it!
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I always find the first night is stressful and I usually hate wherever we are. But things are almost always better in the morning when it’s light outside. And when you come back to the house after you’ve been out and about and it is “home” – ie it’s the closest you are going to get to somewhere familiar for a while, then things really start to look up 😉
We’ve always arrived in the mornings, somehow, so have the whole day to try and stay awake and unpack and so on.
My bugbear is never knowing where to go to find the best x, y or z. For example, when we moved here there was no storage – at all. My husband needed to build shelves before we could unpack. Where to find wood? The local version of Homebase didn’t have the right size… and so on!
Some great tips here. I would add finding out how your utilities work and how to switch them off in an emergency. There is nothing worse than trying to locate your stop cock while miming an apology for the disastrous leak into your downstairs neighbours flat and trying to call a plumber in a language you have no affinity with.
Excellent point, yes! I’ve heard of many horror stories regarding that problem.