Expatriates: How to settle into your new home abroad

Published 2023-09-11 18:47:37
Woman taking selfie with luggage - Image by Freepik

Sponsored by Prop.sg

Relocating to a new country is an exhilarating adventure filled with the promise of new experiences and opportunities. However, the process of settling into your new home as an expatriate can be both exciting and daunting. From navigating unfamiliar cultural norms to managing the practical aspects of house maintenance and handyman services, there's a lot to consider.

Preparing for Your Move and Researching Your Destination

Before you even set foot in your new home, careful preparation is essential. This stage involves gathering information and making critical decisions. Start by researching your new destination thoroughly. Learn about the local culture, customs, and language. The more you know about your new surroundings, the easier it will be to adapt.

Sarah, an American expatriate moving to the United Kingdom, dedicated several months to researching British culture, including tea-drinking etiquette, local dialects, and the so-called "obsession with queuing". This preparation helped her feel more at ease when interacting with her British neighbors.

Setting a Budget and Visa Requirements

Determine a realistic budget for your relocation, taking into account expenses such as visa fees, transportation, and initial housing costs. It's essential to have a financial plan to avoid financial stress during your transition. Ensure that you have the necessary visas and work permits in place well before your move.

Different countries have varying requirements, and missing a crucial step could result in difficulties down the road. Some governments offer assistance to expatriates, such as information on visas and work permits, as well as help with finding housing and schools.

Carlos, a Spanish expatriate relocating to Germany, faced unexpected delays in starting his job because he hadn't obtained the correct work permit. He advises fellow expatriates to start the visa application process early and double-check all requirements.

The moving company you have chosen can also help you and ensure that the customs declarations are correct.

Finding Temporary Accommodation and Building Contacts

Upon arrival in your new country, you'll likely need temporary accommodation while you search for a more permanent home. Consider booking a short-term rental apartment or Airbnb for the initial weeks or months. This will give you time to explore different neighborhoods and decide where you'd like to settle permanently. Leverage your new network or colleagues for recommendations on reliable temporary accommodation options. They can offer valuable insights into the best areas and rental opportunities.

When Alex, an Australian expatriate, moved to Singapore, his colleague recommended a serviced apartment in a vibrant expat-friendly neighborhood. Staying there initially allowed Alex to acclimate to his new environment and make informed decisions about his permanent residence.

Many employers offer relocation assistance to their employees who are moving abroad though your company. This can include help with finding a place to live, arranging for shipping and storage of your belongings, and providing financial assistance.

Securing Long-Term Housing and House Maintenance

Once you've gained some familiarity with your new surroundings, it's time to find a long-term home. Engage a local real estate agent who specializes in expatriate housing. They have a better understanding of the market and can help you find properties that meet your specific needs and budget. Use online property portals, such as Rightmove in the UK or Zillow in the United States, to browse available listings. These platforms allow you to filter properties by location, price range, and other preferences.

Don't overlook traditional methods like checking local newspapers and community bulletin boards for property listings. Sometimes, hidden gems are waiting to be discovered in less conventional ways.

Mia, a Canadian expatriate in France, found her dream apartment through a local newspaper ad. The property was not listed online and was more affordable than similar options in her desired area.

After securing your new home in Australia, you may encounter the need for house maintenance and handyman services. Before moving in, inspect the property thoroughly. Take note of any existing issues or necessary repairs. Communicate these concerns to your landlord or property manager to ensure they are addressed promptly.

Research local handyman services, plumbers, electricians, and general contractors. Whether it's a leaky faucet, electrical issues, or a general home improvement project, having reliable professionals on hand is crucial. Compile a list of trusted professionals you can call upon when maintenance or repairs are needed. Understand the local customs and expectations regarding house maintenance and repairs. In some countries, tenants are responsible for minor repairs, while in others, landlords handle all maintenance issues. Make sure you have a list of emergency contacts for essential services such as plumbing, heating, and electrical issues. Accidents can happen at any time, so being prepared is crucial.

Emily, a British expatriate in Australia, had just moved into her new apartment when she noticed a problem with the electrical wiring. She didn't know where to turn, but a friendly neighbor recommended a local handyman in Brisbane who promptly resolved the issue. This experience taught Emily the importance of having a trusted handyman's contact handy in a new country.

Building a Support Network and Cultural Sensitivity

Settling into a new country can be emotionally challenging. Building a support network can make a significant difference in your overall well-being. Join expatriate forums and social groups to meet people who are going through similar experiences. These groups can provide advice, support, and friendship. EasyExpat.com is a good example of a community websites that provides assistance to expatriates.

Maria, a Mexican expatriate in Canada, joined a local expat group and made lifelong friends. They provided invaluable support during her initial struggles with adapting to the Canadian winters.

While it's essential to connect with fellow expatriates, don't forget to engage with locals too. Learning from locals can deepen your understanding of the culture and help you integrate better. That's why it's important to approach your new culture with an open mind and a willingness to learn. Embrace new traditions and be respectful of local customs, even if they differ from your own. Explore the local cuisine and try traditional dishes. Food is often a gateway to understanding a culture's history and traditions. You should also invest time in learning the local language. Even basic language skills can go a long way in building relationships and making daily life more manageable.

Some employers offer language courses and cultural awareness training to expatriates to help them navigate the cultural nuances of their new home. Consider taking advantage of such resources.

Maintaining Your Mental and Emotional Well-being

The process of settling into a new country can be emotionally challenging. It's essential to prioritize your mental and emotional well-being. Seek professional support if you're feeling overwhelmed or experiencing mental health challenges. Many countries have mental health services available for expatriates.

Regular exercise is an excellent way to manage stress and boost your mood. Maintain contact with friends and family back home to stay grounded and connected to your support system. Video calls and messaging apps make it easier than ever to stay connected.

All expatriates emphasise the need to stay in touch with friends and families in the stories we have selected in our anthology: My life abroad: A selection of expat stories. You can order this book, which is a compilation of interviews published on the website and must be seen as a photo album, allowing you to discover a world view, at a given angle.

In conclusion, relocating to a new country as an expatriate is an exciting journey filled with opportunities for personal and professional growth. While it comes with its fair share of challenges, careful preparation, a positive mindset, and a willingness to embrace new experiences can make the transition smoother. Remember to research your destination, secure temporary and long-term accommodation, build a support network, and approach your new culture with an open heart and mind.

With the right approach, settling into your new home as an expatriate can be a rewarding experience, leading to a fulfilling life in your new international location. So, embrace the adventure, learn from the challenges, and make the most of your expatriate journey.

Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Pinterest WhatsApp Addthis


Author: Sponsored
The content of this post has been sponsored. "Sponsored" posts are not editorial articles. They are provided by or written for an advertiser who validates the content.

For other discussions, advice, question, point of view, get together, etc...: please use the forum.

More articles

- My Life Abroad -
A selection of expat stories

"A fun compulsive read!"
J. Matcham, Amazon

"I strongly advise people ready to live abroad to read this book!"
Patrice, Amazon