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Moving to New Country?

Updated on November 28, 2015

Look For A Place

Before You Go

It is a good idea to do some research about the country you are moving to. This way you will have some idea of what to expect. Be realistic about your expectations and expect the unexpected. Otherwise, if you are so passionate about your destination and have a mindset for how it should be, you might find yourself disappointed if it does not exactly measure up. Before I moved to China, I expected to go to another part of the world so I didn't have preconceived notions and I was open to most anything or I adjusted. On the other hand, I knew some people who had studied China thoroughly and were disenchanted after living there just a short time.

You will undoubtedly also receive information from friends and people you meet about what life will be like there. Keep an open mind, as many people's "knowledge" is based upon their own perceptions and hearsay.

Do be sure to do practical research:

  • climate
  • what to bring and what not to bring (and what you can purchase when you get there)
  • plan around your budget
  • plan how you will support yourself
  • will you live on a shoestring, as a free spirit or are you going with a company
  • visit websites such as those listed below
  • travel
  • visas
  • taking care of matters and obligations at home before you leave

Many expats find the less take the less burden they feel having to to drag precious possessions along.

One other thing, do your pet a favor and leave it with a trusted friend or family member if you are going to a developing country that is not welcoming to pets or would offer them a safe and comfortable home.

A last tip: research visiting neighboring countries. Check visa requirements for those countries and for the country you will be living in. When I was living in China, I didn't do this and lost out on opportunities. Otherwise, I would have visited Hong Kong, Vietnam and Japan, as well.


Engage in Life!

Often Western expats hang out together in developing countries. Hang together and hang separately! You will enjoy life much more if you get out and make local friends and s well as friends you meet who are from other countries. Become part of the community.

If you really want to experience the culture and learn the language, avoid international hotels and venues, and stay in local hotels, eat in local restaurants, join a local gym and take classes such as painting classes from a local teacher. This way you'll make friends and have a full and interesting life. Also, local friends will take you to see places and things tourists doen't get to see. For example, I was lucky to see many places off the beaten path and even slept in a museum overnight in a village accessible by bus, dirt roads and motorcycles 6 hours into the mountains. It was an amazing experience.

This may be your one and only time to visit the country you move to, so plan trips to see as much as possible during time off and local holidays. After your work contract or schooling expires, plan to travel to parts of the country you haven't seen before. Note: Check visa requirements so you don't overstay your visit. Countries are not likely to let you off easily if you overstay your visa. Some may even restrict you from future visits.

Respect the Local Culture

When you are in another country, the cultural norms of your home country are no longer relevant. Behavior that is acceptable at home may be unacceptable in the new country. In addition, culture and rules of etiquette of the new country may at times be opposite of your home country. This can be shocking at first. Don't make judgments. Keep an open mind. Many cultures are also superstitious so learn what these are and avoid these. On social occasions defer to your host to seat you as seating may be specific, and for business let your local contact lead the meeting. Follow your host's cues. Westerners often jump to the heart of a business matter too soon, while in some countries foreigners place value on getting to know a prospective business partner before delving into this business.

One Last Note

Expats tend to be a little more free spirited and adventurous than most. Remember to use common sense and to abide by the laws of the country you are in. Making friends in other countries is easier done and exciting adventures are await. I have made many friends while traveling abroad and we have gone on excursions together and sometimes we ended up traveling together on common legs of our journeys. It's important to use your common sense and carefully judge the situation and person before doing this. Stay in populated public places and do not take risks.

Living the Adventure by FunForLouis

Study Abroad


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