FIVE THINGS TO DO WHEN RELOCATING AS AN EXPAT
As an expat, especially one from Africa it is sometimes quite challenging living abroad and making a new home. We are most times struggling with loneliness, stress and anxiety. We miss home, our culture, struggle with the language of our host country etc. In most cases once you have settled in one city you find yourself having to move (due to work or other reasons) and start a do over. I usually find myself having this nostalgic feeling whenever I leave a city to another one for instance because of the connections I have being able to create.
If you are currently based abroad and are about to relocate to another city or country, below are a few checkpoints you should think about when planning your move.
I know this is probably and obvious one, but you would be surprised how many folks do not invest enough time researching the city/country they intend to move to. There are quite allot if things you will need to research about your future new “home” such as the cost of living, cost of accommodation – how difficult is it to find a place to stay (The housing market tends to be the one factor that can put a dent on your moving plans, so the earlier to start gathering information on this the better). Finding out the best neighborhood to live in is a good way to know which part of the city suits your needs and expectations. You would also need to investigate things like transportation requirements, cost of moving, and Visa requirement if you are relocating to another country. Knowing about this logistics before moving will help you to fit in with the locals and will mean that there are fewer things to organize while you are also trying to adjust to a completely new lifestyle. There is also a need to and benefit in researching and informing yourself about the cultural characteristics of the new city/country you would be moving to. This will go a long way in helping you gain a better understanding of what to expect from the locals and ensure that your integration is seamless. Knowing this in advance will help you not to question yourself or your ability to make friends once you’ve moved and will make the settling in process much easier.
I always find it useful to check out the city/country you plan to move to before the actual move. Getting a feel of the place from the lens of a tourist always finds a way to highlight the beauty of the place which could otherwise may not be obvious to you. There is also the added benefit of you getting a taste of what it would be like living there; how the locals live, the cool restaurants, shops, gyms etc. you may want to consider. Questions like “how good is the public transport?”, “are there any local customs and traditions you need to be mindful off?” etc. will most likely be answered if you are able to visit the place. There is also the fact that this will help Is reducing any anxiety or stress you may have once you move. If it is possible, use your time there to view a few flats and peak to real estate agents to establish the initial contact and follow up once you leave. There is allot to gain by going through with this process.
3- Find your community
There is always a community of Expat in every city or country. Finding them will help ease your settlement in the new city and even help in your relocation. I find Facebook groups to be quite helpful with this. Take some time to search for the right expat community Facebook group, introduce yourself and let them know you will soon be moving and are looking forward to engaging with everyone. What you will find is that some folks will reach and offer assistance if needed. This is also a great way to make new friends, find answers to any questions you may have and build yourself a small community. Speaking to other expats and locals before moving is something I would recommend as this is a great way to learn about the culture of your new home, while also getting to know some of the locals. Most people find their accommodation via recommendation from other expats they connected with via Facebook, you never know where help may come from so be open minded.
4- Give yourself time
Moving is a tedious task which involves a host of logistics, planning and energy. Making sure you have ample time to successfully move will go along way to ensure that you do not end up pulling your hair out as a result of stress. Planning in advance things like the notice period for your existing flat, packing up, deciding where to use a moving company or handling this personally, and how soon you can secure a home in your new city or country will save you allot of unnecessary stress. It is easy to procrastinate and get caught up last minute with allot to do; write town all the things which you need to do (down to the very last detail) and walk your way through the list in a sequential manner so you do not get overwhelmed everything.
5- Set a routine
New home, new city, new neighborhood can be overwhelming. So within your first months, try to establish some sort of routine with your days. This will help create a sense of control and normalcy, and reduce any feeling of loneliness, or anxiety. Register to gym (if you’re into fitness), find the nearest park if you are into going for walks, use the app meet up to identify any events which you may want to attend in the weekends or register for a language course of you do not speak the language. Having these routines will ensure that you do not get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the expat life, but instead make you feel at home in your new city/country.