I’ve been contacted recently by HiFX to contribute to their expat tips campaign by providing a tip that can be beneficial for future expats. I couldn't decide on just one, and just wrote a bunch of them instead.
If you are moving abroad, or you've recently moved abroad, here are my tips to help you start your expat life in a new country. These tips come from my personal experience, and behind each of them, there is a story (sometimes a really painful story of learning it hard way). Hope you’ll find these tips beneficial, and avoid some of the faux pas I've made. For more expat tips see the HiFX Expat Page.
My expat tips
#1: When you move to a new country, prepare yourself that the things are different than home. The quicker you adjust and accept, the sooner you'll start to enjoy your new surroundings. Don't forget that if things were so great back home, you would probably still be living there.
#2: Get to know how long the winter lasts in the country you are moving to. Don't trust billboards and commercials. They never show slush and rain.
#3: Don't underestimate the language barrier. You cannot really immerse yourself in the new culture, until you start understanding the language. The fact that you already speak few languages doesn't mean that you'll learn a new one as quickly as you assume.
#4: Don’t buy property just because you like it and the price is good. Don’t forget that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Do your research. And especially do your research on your future neighbors. This can help you avoid many potential problems. Wrong neighbors can be a real annoyance.
#5: Sometimes you can be surprised how little your money can stretch. Don’t keep converting another currency back into your own. You can get really discouraged sometimes.
#6: Just because you feel lonely sometimes, it doesn't mean you need to hang out with the people from your home country that you wouldn't normally hang out back home. Do your effort and you’ll find like-minded people in your adopted country.
#7: When people chat with a cashier in a supermarket, they are not trying to mess with you. They are just chatting. Keep your calm. Relax and go with a flow. Try to use these queues to learn the language. Listen and challenge yourself in understanding what they talk about. This is better (and healthier) than to be getting angry with a poor service.
#8: Have an open mind. Don’t compare your home country with your new country all the time. They are different and there is no point in comparing the two.
#9: Don’t just assume that you’ll hop in the taxi whenever you need a ride. Taxis can be extremely expensive in some countries.
#10: Yeah, you probably won’t find your favorite French cheese in the local shop, but taste instead a local one. You might get surprised. The same goes for the wine.
#11: They say it with the reason: If in Rome, do like Romans do.
Do you have any expat tips? Add them in the comments below.