Whether you’re about to move, or are a seasoned expat, I have put together a list of hints & tips that I feel offer useful suggestions about making the most of your new life abroad. This list was created after speaking with seasoned expats and newbies alike about some of the struggles they have encountered when making the jump over seas. If you, or someone you know, are planning to make the move or, your already abroad, the tips below offer some useful suggestions on how to make the most out of life in your new home country.
Come With An Open Mind And Say Yes To Everything.
What begins as an exchange of “hellos” between strangers can quickly transform into much more… possibly even entire sentences.
Say yes to strangers. Say yes to awkwardness. Say yes to not being in control. Say yes to strange food. Say yes to the realization that nobody is perfect. Be open to new adventures and go for it. You never know what you might let in when you let something go.
Make An Effort To Learn & Appreciate Your Neighbor’s Language & Culture!
While it is certainly possible to travel to a Spanish speaking country without knowing any Spanish, your trip will in no way compare with the incredible adventure that awaits the traveler who speaks Spanish. If you only speak English, you will be find yourself at popular tourist restaurants and businesses where nearly everyone speaks some English.
If you want to explore the area and get to know the local people, you need to know Spanish. Even simple things, such as reading signs and menus, asking directions or telling a cab driver where you want to go requires at least a basic understanding of the language. Hispanic people are amazingly generous, and if you speak Spanish you will find yourself being welcomed in a way that you could have never imagined if you only spoke English. Simply put, when you travel to a Spanish speaking country, knowing the language will allow you to move from the role of observer to that of an active participant.
Immerse Yourself In The Local Culture, People & Food And Enjoy It!
Look for opportunities to meet locals and learn more about the local culture. Head to a non-touristy bar, stop in a cafe, wander through a bookshop and ask someone about what they’re reading or spend a day volunteering with a local project.
It is a sad truth that no matter where you go in the world, you are almost always going to find a McDonald’s… Do you really need another burger and fries? Seek out the more “mom and pop” establishments or sample some delicious street food. This can also be a great opportunity for you to interact with the locals
Sort Out The Banking Situation Before You Move.
It’s highly possible that your move abroad is motivated by financial factors. After all, expats can often take advantage of a lower cost of living. Depending on your line of work some expats can take advantage of higher salaries and favorable offshore legislation, and for this reason it’s all the more important that you sort out your finances before you leave.
Cancelling payments – Remember to get any financial tasks out of the way in the appropriate time; you’ll need to cancel direct debits to avoid annoying penalty charges. Although it sounds obvious, you’d be amazed at how easy it is to forget such minor details when dealing with a move abroad. Most of your regularly occurring expenses will need to be cancelled with at least a month’s notice.
Bank accounts – The next thing you’ll have to think about will be your bank accounts. One of the biggest mistakes Americans and Expats make when they move overseas is closing their bank and credit card accounts. Why? When you return back to your country of origin, you might be in for a rude awakening when you attempt to open new lines of credit or when applying for loans. Obviously you’ll have to open a bank account in your new country, but there are many reasons why you should keep your account in the United States or elsewhere as well.
For starters, unless you are already well acquainted with the country you’re moving to, you don’t know how their banking systems differ from what you’re used to. What’s the process of applying for a credit card? Are fees different? Will you only be able to use ATMs during certain hours? How much money can you take out at one time? Learn about your new country’s banking system before you make the move overseas. It might not be so easy to open a bank account in your new country, so having one back “home” is never a bad idea.
Buying or renting a home? – Aside from banking, you should also have the foresight to plan and budget for your new home before you get there. Find, or in the very least, price out accommodations beforehand so that you can determine how much you will be spending on rent. Do some research into living expenses in your new country, it could be more expensive than you think. Make sure you have a reserve of money for emergencies, especially when you first arrive as there will be expenses that you won’t have factored in.
Use A Range Of Social Media To Keep In Touch With People.
Today’s technology offerings mean that it is easier than ever to communicate quickly and easily over vast distances and there are multiple ways in which you can contact the people you love and keep them up-to-date with events in your new life abroad. There are a large number of providers available and most are totally free to use. In some cases a data plan is necessary but you could always make do with your neighbors Wi-Fi or a free network at a nearby coffee shop. The most popular applications for staying in touch with friends and family are Skype, Viber, Whatsapp, and Facebook messenger. If you are able to secure an internet connection at your house many expats also use VOIP or their own Magic Jack that they brought from home. This provides a cheap connection that isn’t dependent on unreliable Wi-Fi signals.