The expat guide: Top tips for moving abroad
So you have finally decided it is time to move abroad to experience a different lifestyle and maybe just a bit more sun than you get in the UK. Moving abroad is often a challenging endeavour, especially if you decide to relocate to a country where people don’t speak English as their first language. The first couple of months are going to be the tougher ones, so here are a couple of things to consider before taking the plunge.
Start by Packing and Shipping Your Belongings
Packing for your move abroad can be one of the most difficult things to take care of before leaving – it requires a lot of planning and is crucial to get right. The best approach to this is packing light, so it is worth taking a tough-love approach when looking through everything you own as you decide which things are essential and which things you can leave behind.
Once you have a final list, it is time to look into the options you have for shipping all your belongings to your new home. If you are first looking to rent furnished accommodation before you find a permanent home, it is a good idea to place your furniture into storage in the UK, and have it shipped once you have a permanent place to live. If you already have a property secured in your new country, shop around until you find the best price to have your belongings shipped. Don’t forget to check the insurance you get for your boxes and keep everything of high value, such as jewellery or electronics, on your person when you travel.
Take Care of your Finances
Moving abroad can prove an expensive process, so it is essential to have your financial affairs in order before you leave, and make sure you stay within the budget in the first few months as you get settled. If you move abroad for work, you may be able to secure accommodation via your employer. If you are looking to buy property abroad independently, do your research first by searching for things such as “apartments for sale in Nice” if you are moving to the south of France, for example, in order to become familiar with the local real estate market. If you don’t speak the language, it is also advisable that you employ English-language services – not only will they be able to communicate with you all the various requirements, they’ll also be familiar with the typical needs and concerns of a Brit moving abroad.
You will also need to research your options when it comes to bank accounts and protect yourself with home and contents insurance. Before choosing a bank account, make sure you understand all the fees and interest rates. Keep in mind that different countries have different bank regulations, so you may have to pay a fee for your account or some of the transactions you make, unlike in the UK.
Learn the Language
In many countries such as Spain, Italy, or France it is possible to get by with only English for day-to-day conversations because many people, especially younger generations in big cities, speak fluent English, but it is going to become problematic when it comes to more serious matters. Learning the language should be one of your top priorities on your moving abroad checklist. If you can, take language classes before you leave in order to learn more about the culture of your new country, too. Don’t expect to suddenly become fluent, but just the act of learning itself can prove invaluable to someone seeking to understand and integrate themselves into a new culture.
Mix with the Locals
In the first months, it is often tempting to spend all your time with your fellow expats. However, by doing so, you will be missing out on a world of fascinating local knowledge and history. You’d be surprised at how much you can miss out on from failing to interact with locals. Special events, invitations to village fêtes, favourite cafes and local specialities might all pass you by if you’re slow to get involved. By showing your interest in local affairs and people, you’ll open up the possibility of new knowledge and adventure that would otherwise remain hidden from you.
It takes months, even years, before you can fully integrate into a new society. However, the process of that integration is itself a fantastic adventure. And as you go about the business of successfully managing this life change and journey abroad, there’ll be a new world of stunning geography, climate, cuisine and culture to feast the senses.