5 Important Things To Do Before Moving Abroad

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So you have your visa, passport, tickets and packed suitcases ready to go. It’s official: You’re moving abroad.

Congratulations – You’re friggen brave!

Becoming an expat is simultaneously exciting and terrifying. Uprooting yourself from your safe and comforting home ground and bursting into an entirely new life landscape can be a very scary and stressful time.  It’s easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of activity before the move and forget the ESSENTIALS to prepare yourself for expat life. 

Preparation is key. So here are my top 5 things to do before your big moving day:

1.  Learn the language (if applicable)!

OK, so this is pretty much a given. You don’t want to turn up and struggle to introduce yourself, ask directions or order your Cosmo at the bar. Before I moved to France with my family when I was 13 years old, I had only learnt French for 1 year in school and most of what I knew were phrases such as ‘Professor McGonagall can turn into a cat’ – Useful.
We hired a French teacher to come to the house and personally give us a crash-course on the basics for the month or so leading up to the big move. It was great to have the groundwork beforehand and that way being completely immersed into French was that little bit easier. I still have my French dictionary scrawled over with my messy notes 13 years later. It was definitely my language Bible when I first got there and the language skills are now applicable in my new Canadian home too!

2.  Reach out and build relationships

You may feel like a creep reaching out to strangers but you seriously won’t regret it!  If you are moving abroad via a travel company or educational institution, ask if there is an online Facebook group or something similar where you can message others just like you. Even if you are moving abroad solo, social media is designed to connect people and it won’t hurt to hunt out people, communities or groups in the area you are heading to and introduce yourself.
Look at it this way, you will either get ignored and never meet/see them again, or they will respond and you will have your first friend already!

If this isn’t for you, book yourself into a ‘Paint Nite’ or yoga class ahead of time. Make plans to build relationships as soon as you arrive so you have something positive to look forward to amongst all the chaos of moving.

Read more about Making Friends here!

3.  Map out your new home

If you know where you will be living, use Google Street View to explore and get excited about your new neighbourhood! Research the area and write down a list of things to do, places to visit and activities you want to try so your itinerary is packed from the get-go. Leave your suitcase unpacked on the floor, embrace this change and start bonding with this new country and its culture. Plan to immerse yourself into moving abroad from day one and you will start your new adventure in the best way possible.

4.  Treat yourself to a new wardrobe

The biggest thing for me moving abroad was confidence. If you’re an introvert like me, you’ll be feeling serious nerves about putting yourself out there in a new and unfamiliar place. I dealt with this issue with the wonderful activity that is shopping. Now it may be slightly shallow and I can’t really explain why but having even just a handful of new outfits untouched in my suitcase was my way of starting afresh, projecting the best version of me and knowing that I looked great definitely helped with the nerves!

5.  Have faith in yourself!

It’s easy to say this yet so hard to put into practice.
The pressures that we put on ourselves to have a perfect life are tough and ruthless, especially when moving abroad. I found that I doubted myself and my decision to move to Canada just because I didn’t have a group of close friends in the first 30-60 days of living here. Building relationships take time.
Write down all of your closest friends from your home country and then how you met each person – Then try and replicate those situations! Whether it is in a bar, playing on a sports team, chatting to that girl in the bathroom, bonding over a tortuous gym class… If you open yourself up to the possibility that anybody can come into your life at any moment, you will automatically radiate approachability and it will happen!  If you set up this mindset before you arrive you will enter the whole experience much more positively from the start.

You’ve moved your life abroad – you’re already awesome.

What is the biggest worry you’ve had before moving abroad?

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  • Reply
    October 7, 2017 at 1:02 am

    Thank you so much for this. I just got my Confirmation of Permanent Residence yesterday and suddenly everything seems so real, it’s happening, a new beginning. Happy, scared, excited, worried about the job search, all sorts of wild emotions but definitely filled with hope and glad I am doing this.

    • Reply
      Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
      October 7, 2017 at 12:28 pm

      Wow congrats !!! What country are you off to? So many emotions to deal with at once but you’re going to have a blast I promise! Don’t worry too much about the job search -have you already prepped your resume and got everything ready to go? I struggled more about location than the actual job search (as all the ones I wanted were in the city and too far away from my new home!) Make sure you know in your mind where you’re going to be working and then apply/search for those places 🙂 plus you’re foreign and brave so you’ll stand out and they’ll remember you – you’ll be working before you know it – Good luck !!!!

      • Reply
        October 7, 2017 at 6:29 pm

        Thank you so much, that is very motivating. I am moving to Canada, in the beginning I was sure it would be Vancouver but now I’m also thinking about Ottawa, Toronto and Halifax. You are right, settling on where is becoming the tough part now. but I am optimistic and really think a year from now I will look back at this and think… silly goose, why were you ever afraid.

        • Reply
          Kate - TheHomeWanderers.com
          October 9, 2017 at 10:31 pm

          Haha silly goose! I’ve been living and working in Canada (just outside of Toronto) for 10 months now and definitely look back on certain fears that used to worry me that were never even an issue! It’s totally normal to overthink it, it’s a huge move you’re doing but you’ll have the best time! Let me know if Toronto wins and you head this way 🙂

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