How to Live Abroad: 12 Tips from Expats
So you’ve made the decision that you want a change in your life. You’re ready for a new adventure and are planning to go live abroad.
Congrats to you, brave soul! Welcome to the club.
You are in for the journey of a lifetime.
Buuuut, there’s one problem. You don’t actually have ANY IDEA how to live abroad or where to start. And as the days to your departure get closer, anxiety starts setting in. Are you really ready for this?
Where will you live? How will you learn a new language? What about public transportation? Where will your kids attend school (if you’re moving as a family)? And the list goes on…
So many questions and even more worries begin swirling in your head.
Believe me, I’ve BEEN there (our personal story about relocating from America to Barcelona HERE) and trust me, these feelings are totally normal. You aren’t alone!
This is one of, if not THE, biggest decision you’ll ever make in your life! You’re bound to loose some sleep over it at some point.
But that’s the exciting part about it all, isn’t it?!
While your friends and family back home might not be able to relate to this life change, thousands of others who now consider themselves seasoned expats can!
Think I’m lying?
Over the last two years of living abroad in Barcelona with my three kids and husband, I’ve met so many awesome families just like us. They wanted more out of life, they made the decision for a change and took the journey!
Some with secure jobs lined up. Others just flying by the seat of their pants and hoping for answers along the way!
We share the same stories and worries. These are our people. They’re some of the ones I lean on for advice only a fellow expat can give.
So, I’ve compiled some of the best advice and tips on how to live abroad from those that have walked the walk – and have the passports to show for it.
If you’re planning to relocate overseas, who better to ask than the experts themselves!
Tips from Expats on How to Live Abroad
Be Patient, This Process Takes Time
Rome wasn’t built in a day and your overseas adjustment won’t be fulfilled in one week. This was hard for me to grasp as someone who likes being productive and getting sh*t done!
But it was some of the best advice I received. Try to remember, becoming an expat is about the journey, and not necessarily the destination. So slow down and be patient!
“It’s going to take a while to feel settled but just be patient and keep pushing forward.” says Kristina from Transatlantic_Leonards who moved from the Midwest of America to Ireland more than a year ago.
“Give yourself a year or so to decide if you like/dislike a country”, commented the blog Expat Baggage. I couldn’t agree more! Often times when in a new surrounding, we’re quick to point out what we DON’T like – meanwhile missing out on other great things advantages around us.
And Kristine from Irish I Were Mexican Blog (love that name by the way!) offers the same sentiment. “Feeling like home takes time – at least a year or more. It does not happen overnight, so take each day one day at a time.”
Choose to Be Optimistic
As simple as this might sound, it can be difficult on those first days in your new country. By focusing less on our own stressors and frustrations, force yourself to see the silver lining.
After all, sweating the small stuff never got anyone anywhere, right?
Perfectly said by A Soul Awakening, “Smile and bring joy to another’s day.” This is back to basics, people! Sometimes a smile is the only thing standing between a mediocre day and a great one!
“The key is having a positive adventurous attitude,” says Laura from Raised Global. “You are completely outside of your comfort zone, not always able to plan ahead, and must be able to go with the flow.”
Comfort Eats writer point out that “The conveniences and comforts from home won’t be available in your new country, so be prepared to make some adjustments to everyday life.”
And adjust we did! Learning to live without a dish washer, clothes dryer, car and backyard have all been tough – but we made the decision to trade convenience for experience and it’s been worth it!
CHECK OUT: 5 American Conveniences We Dearly Miss
Changes will inevitably happen and being able to adjust to them with a positive mindset will set you up for less frustration in the long run.
Finally, Mami Expat reminds future expats to, “Embrace the storm because without rain, nothing grows.” And didn’t this entire experience of moving abroad start with your desire for personal growth and more out of life?
Try to remember that!
Keep Expat Kids the Priority
In one of my earlier posts I talk about how expat kids are just “along for the ride”. They didn’t exactly come to us one day and state, “Mommy I’d like it if we moved across the world to a foreign country.”
Quite the opposite actually.
So as parents, we need to be very sensitive to what each child goes through in the beginning and middle of a relocation. In a foreign country, you are the only consistent thing they really have.
In the beginning at least.
Writer and life coach from New Zealand, Christine, of the blog A Family in France gives solid advice for children becoming expats. “Moving abroad takes a real toll on anyone, but especially families with children. If there are two parents in the picture, try to make sure one does not work or take on new projects for the first few months of settling in. Your kids will need you most during that time.”
How true this is! The ups and downs of a child’s emotions will only be exaggerated by the toll of an overseas move.
Try to do a weekly check in to see how they’re feeling about their new life. Open the door for lots of communication. Sometimes all kids need is to talk.
At the same time, understand how strong and resilient kids are deep down. They’re much more adaptable than us adults who have a tendency to be…set in our ways?
Blogger Projet Auvert suggests to “Focus on supporting kids from the sidelines and know how very capable they ultimately are. They will succeed and soar by living abroad, if you allow them to.”
Take the Initiative and Make Friends
Have you ever stepped into a cocktail party and realized you don’t know a single person in the room? It can be SO intimidating! Now imagine this same scenario on the other side of the world in a whole CITY filled with foreign people.
It’s enough anxiety to keep you from EVER leaving your apartment, yes? But here’s the honest reality. If you wait for people to come to you and offer a friendship, you’ll be one very lonely expat!
Have the confidence to go out and meet people! This is back to the whole “smile” thing from earlier.
“Don’t miss an opportunity to meet someone new and to learn about them. That’s the very best part of living abroad,” according to Lost In Culture and I couldn’t agree more.
Some of the coolest and most interesting, worldly people we know are those we’ve met during this expat journey.
It’s what being an expat is really all about. Hell, it’s what life is all about!
After all, Flying Fyllis “If you make the effort to immerse yourself in where you are, doing what the locals do, you’ll probably stay longer.”
So if you’re someone who has always dreamed of living abroad, loves to travel and needs a life change, stop overthinking it!
Get to planning, create your expat essentials buying lists, join expat Facebook groups to connect and leave worry behind. Perfectly said by soon-to-be expat Rachel Mekenzie , “I might have no idea what I’m doing but until you take the leap, you’ll never really know. We can’t expect someone else to plan our move to another country.”
Check out all our favorite expat essential products HERE on The Expat Chronicle Blog’s Amazon Store!!
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