12 tips for moving abroad and starting your expat life

Moving abroad and becoming an expat is a big and exciting change to make in your life. We’ve put together the following tips, to help you prepare for the adventure!

12 top tips for moving abroad and starting your expat life
12 top tips for moving abroad and starting your expat life

1. Think carefully about location

You may have your heart set on moving to a specific country, but so much can differ from region to region. From climate, to job opportunities, to friendliness of locals, be sure to do your research!

2. Look for expat groups already established in the area

Check for groups online, so that you can introduce yourself before you move and ask if anyone would be willing to show you around. When moving anywhere for the first time, it’s always a comfort to already know someone living nearby.

3. Learn the local language

If you have planned far enough in advance, consider enrolling in a class to learn the language spoken in the area you are moving to. If you are short on time then borrow a textbook from a library or download an app or audiobook to help you learn the basics before you set off. It will make a massive difference to your confidence when moving to a new place away from friends and family.

4. A new wardrobe may be necessary

Have you researched which season you’ll be touching down in when you arrive? You may be about to experience weather completely different to what we’re used to in the UK, so packing the right clothing is important. Stepping off the plane into the pouring rain would certainly put a dampener on the beginning of your new adventure…

5. Plan your transport options

If you plan on driving then check what sort of licence you need. At the moment, some EU countries allow you to continue using your British driving licence, but it’s best to make sure. The Highway Code you’re used to may differ drastically, so it’s important that you make yourself aware of different driving laws. Alternatively, check out options for cycle routes, bus routes and train lines.

6. Redirect your post

Whether you are selling up and relocating permanently or you’re moving to a second home abroad, there are a couple of reasons why you don’t want post going to the wrong place. If it’s anything important, such as a forgotten bill, you can save yourself a lot of hassle by arranging it to be sent to the address of a friend or relative. They can then get in touch and let you know. Also, if you are keeping your home in the UK, but leaving it unoccupied, a build-up of post is a tell-tale sign for thieves that no one has been home for a while.

7. Simplify your insurance needs

When looking at overseas home insurance options, consider looking for a company that provides its documents translated into English. This can vastly reduce the stress of such an important task. Legal documents can be difficult enough to wade through, without the added challenge of getting them translated.

8. Clear out the clutter before you pack

Have a look through all of your belongings and sort them into categories. Have one for items you definitely wish to keep, one for items to be recycled/thrown away, a donations pile for a charity and another for anything you might be able to sell. This will save you money on transporting everything over to your new home and allow you to make a fresh and organised start!

9. Medication matters

Whether you rely on a repeat prescription or you simply want to know that you can get paracetamol for a headache, the law on medicinal drugs can differ from location to location. If you are moving to a country in the EU, it may very well have a health agreement with the UK (fingers crossed this doesn’t change…) If so, you might be able to access the same prescription drug benefits as the locals.

10. Think ahead about food

Have you looked into what the supermarkets and restaurants are going to be like? If you have a brand of cereal that you can’t live without, make sure to find out if it’ll be available. Otherwise, you may have to compromise and find a similar product. Typical dishes on local menus may also come as a culture shock, so prepare yourself by searching online before you go and make a list of potential places to try.

12 top tips for moving abroad and starting your expat life
12 top tips for moving abroad and starting your expat life

11. Join in with the community

Getting involved with any local events is a great way to meet your new neighbours. If there are any festivals or markets coming up, attend them and get a first-hand experience of what it means to be a part of your new community!

12. Stay connected with those back home

Will you be able to continue using the same mobile phone provider? If so, check for any out of the ordinary charges. If they don’t provide coverage in your new area, you will want to make preparations before you set off, so that you aren’t stuck for a modern method of communication.

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