Many people take time to adjust when starting a new life overseas, but follow these tips and you’ll soon be feeling right at home
Once you’ve made the decision to move overseas you’ll have many challenges to overcome and what seems like a never ending to do list including applying for visas, finding jobs, selling your home and the logistics of moving all your belongings across the world. You may, therefore, have little time for thinking about the first few months in your new country and how you’ll adjust.
Whilst countries like Canada, Australia or New Zealand have the same language and many cultural similarities, adapting to a different lifestyle, climate and working life may be trickier than you imagined.
Specialist international removal companies such as PSS offer expert advice to help with the challenges that relocating to different countries can offer. However, once you’re there without your usual circle of friends and family to keep you company – and lend valuable advice – you might find yourself isolated and unsure of where to turn.
Here are 15 tips to help make that transition from UK citizen to UK expat, a little easier.
How To Adjust To Life In Your New Country
Be Prepared to Feel Unsettled In Your First Few Weeks
Even moving to a new city in the UK is a major undertaking, so moving to a new country even with a similar culture, should not be underestimated.
There are many subtle environmental and cultural differences that can make it hard to adjust at first. It is fairly common to feel a little ‘buyers remorse’ not long after you arrive. Many people are surprised that, instead of the expected joy of having achieved their dream, they instead feel unsettled or in some cases may even think ‘Oh my God, what have I done?”.
If you get any such feelings don’t panic. It is relatively common and does not mean you’ve made the wrong decision. Instead, be prepared in advance for this possibility and give yourself more time to adjust.
Many things will seem strange for a while, but follow the tips below, and within no time you’ll make friends, begin your new daily life and start to enjoy your new life in your new country.
Behave Like a Tourist
There’s no reason why your new location shouldn’t offer you a wide range of opportunities to travel around at weekends, seeing exactly what’s on your doorstep. Local tourist centres can be found by visiting the relevant country’s tourism website or even regional tourist websites.
Take time to experience and enjoy your new country. Being a tourist is a fun way to explore and learn about your area’s history and culture.
Be Social With Work Colleagues
If you’ve already got a job lined up see what social opportunities your company has available and take the chance to join a new work-related club or just head out for dinner with colleagues one evening. Most people love showing off their city so make use of the contact.
Even if you are retired or are a stay at home parent and don’t need to work, it could be worthwhile taking a part time job just for the purposes of keeping yourself busy and getting to know new people.
Ensure you Have Adequate Health Insurance
To avoid getting into financial trouble with healthcare charges make sure you are well informed before you leave. Free NHS treatment is not universal and you’ll need to make sure you are adequately covered in terms of insurance before you take up residence in countries such as Canada, Australia or New Zealand. Health advice for UK citizens is offered at www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Making sure your family are adequately covered will give you a greater sense of security and you’ll have one less thing to worry about.
Keep in Contact with Family and Friends
Keep in touch with family and friends back home through free services such as Skype, WhatsApp and Facebook. Make a regular date to chat to those dearest to you. It can give you a sense of routine and also relieve the feelings of isolation that you might have.
Sharing your story on Instagram or a blog can also help you connect with more people and appreciate your migration adventure.
Take Your Favourite Belongings to Help You Feel at Home
No doubt before you leave the UK you’ll want to declutter and get rid of a lot of your old belongings, but don’t make the mistake of being too ruthless. Whilst you will want to have a new start and save money on shipping, people often find things are more expensive to replace in their new country.
However, it’s not just about the money, many overseas migrants welcome the day when their shipping container arrives and feel so much more at home with their favourite armchair, familiar crockery and other belongings around them.
Take Up Your Old Hobbies
Remember the hobbies you had back in the UK and think about how you can enjoy these in your new life. All major cities will have a sports or health clubs. In Australia and New Zealand the governments have websites designed to hook up individuals with their favourite pastimes.
You’ll easily make friends with people of a similar interest. It can also be a good idea to check out and make contact with your local hobby groups before you even leave the UK so that you have some friendly local contacts when you arrive.
Join Local Expat Communities
You’ll naturally want to make friends with local people, but finding fellow expats can be a big help in helping you adjust. Look for people in a similar situation and hook up with them. There is no shame in trying to find other Brits settling in the same town or city as you.
You’ll be surprised to find expat communities all over the world. Websites such as Internations can help you link up with fellow Brits in your area. Their members will be able to help with everything from recommending a good decorator to finding a good nursery. You’ll also find many things in common to talk about.
A survey taken on behalf of www.expatforum.com and Barclays International Banking listed loneliness as one of the biggest issues for new arrivals. If you’re struggling to find friends volunteering might be a good option.
Helping out with a local charity or cause that you believe in, can be a very empowering way of integrating into your local community and also give you a sense of making a worthwhile contribution.
Making Friends Through Children’s School and Toddler Groups
If you have children of nursery or school age, the good news is that there are hundreds of parents in exactly the same situation. Forcing yourself to join a new toddler group or school board may seem daunting, but the great thing about kids is that they make friends far more easily than adults.
Even if you spend the first few weeks just making play dates for your children, you’ll at least be meeting people and getting to know the area.
Learn a Language or Sign Up For Other Classes
If you’ve never got round to learning a new language maybe moving to a new country could offer you a range of new opportunities. Signing up for an evening class for a language or other topic could be a good way to meet people, find out about local attractions and see how the culture works.
In New Zealand look at their newcomers network which offers a friendly place to chat and gather advice.
Find a Local Source of Home Comforts
In most countries you’ll find stores and restaurants catering to British tastes. With a little research you are likely to find British Pubs, fish and chips, your favourite British groceries, English sport, the BBC and UK radio stations.
Whilst you’re finding your favourite local alternatives, there is no harm in staying in touch with your old favourites!
Go on Holiday!
This is a great trick for feeling at home. After a couple of months of being in your new country go on holiday and stay away somewhere (it doesn’t have to be abroad). You’ll not only have a welcome break but when you return it will feel like you’re coming home – because of course you are!
A return trip to the UK, is often a useful reminder of why you made the decision in the first place and can help you appreciate how lucky you are with your new life overseas.
Stay Positive and Enjoy the Adventure!
Make an effort to focus on the positive and good things about your life in your new country.
There will always be some compromises, but as long as you remember the reasons you moved in the first place and appreciate the benefits of your new life and environment, you’ll be happy and enjoy your dream of living in your new home country.
Need Help With Your Move Overseas?
PSS International removals is a family run company and our desire is to ensure your family receive a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move.
We have specialised in international removals for over 36 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle we recognise the importance in ensuring that our customers receive the same level of care and attention that we would expect ourselves. Contact us now for a free estimators survey, online moving and baggage quote.
We can also put you in touch with our network of partners and contacts that will be able to help make every aspect of your move that much smoother and stress free.
The original version article was first published on 1st September 2015