Best Practices In 3 Stages Of Moving For First Time Expats

26 September 2013



Living abroad is never as easy as one might think. Whether you’re travelling to a country only 2 hours away from your home country or in the other side of the world, the difference of culture or just simply stepping outside your comfort zone is always a challenge.


So how do we get over this? If it’s your first time to be an expat, there are a few things you have to keep in mind to not be a fish out of water when you leave for and arrive to your new country of residence.


Preparing For Your Move


When moving to other countries for work, most expats rely heavily on the company that they will be working for. Most companies that employ expats take care of the basics like insurance, accommodation and sometimes even schools for expat’s children; one should not go blindly in all of these company provided benefits. Ask about the plans and be hands on in your move. Research the international insurance companies that your company is using and the coverage that they are signing you up for. This way, you can be sure which areas are covered and which are the ones you would have to look into yourself.


The standard plans of your company may not be at par with your needs. By being hands on and doing some research, you can either negotiate with your company or find your own means of service in the things you might need once you move to your new country of residence.


Don’t over think the move. You will not be moving to a different planet and no matter how far the country you’ll be moving into is from your home country, you’d be surprised at how closely things still are from what you know. Find out all that you can about the country, its culture and its people and it would also be helpful to find out more about the experiences of expats who are already there. Find websites or forums that keep tabs on the expat scene in your new country of residence. This way, you can adjust your mindset based on information and not assumptions.





Whether or not your moving is taken care of by a company or yourself, you have to be sure of one thing; the moving company handling your relocation is reputable and reliable. This should go without saying, but this is written for the sake of ensuring everyone that this is a detail that should not be overlooked. Lost personal belongings can be devastating not just for the monetary value of the items but also the sentimental value they might have, not to mention the stress you would have to go through in trying to track your things down.


Make sure you read up on moving companies and see testimonies from previous clients. Better yet, try to find out by referrals from people you actually know who have used a moving company before. International moving can be very stressful, but with the right sources of information, it can also be simple and stress-free.


When packing for your move, try to include only things that you absolutely need. Keep in mind that some items might be available in your new country of residence and it might be less of a hassle and cheaper to just purchase those items when you arrive. This is also where your due diligence for research comes in. If you are a Caucasian of regular Caucasian built and you are moving to an Asian country, you might have to pack all the clothes and shoes as you can. Some countries in Asia have very few store options for Caucasian sizes and you might have some difficulty trying to purchase clothes and shoes. Same goes for Asians travelling to countries predominantly Caucasian. Sizes might be hard to come by and it’s quite hard to go home every time you need a new set of clothes. For things you know you will need in the long-run, it’s good to stack up new clothes you think you might need at least up until your next trip home.


Upon Arrival


If your move to your new country of residence is also your first time to actually be in that country, then you have to rely heavily on your research and try to find out more from expats who are already in the country. Try to find associations and communities that you can join and learn from. Not only can you gain acquaintances and friends through communities, you can also gain business acquaintances and networking opportunities by joining groups.


Find out all you can about how people go by; and by this we mean how people in the country operate. By simple observation you can almost immediately see the basics just while making your way from the airport’s arrival gate to the taxi stand. Another way you can find out more about the country, their culture and their people is by talking to cabbies. When interacting with cabbies, you have to always make sure that they’re legit. Check their identification cards and plate numbers and make sure that they are legitimate cab drivers before you start chatting them up. Be careful in your conversation; remember that it is you who should be asking for information and not the other way around. Another thing to keep in mind is to not let them know that you are completely oblivious about the country, sure there are still a lot of honest cabbies around, but it’s always good to be in the safe side in trying to get new information.


Don’t try so hard to fit in. No matter where you end up living, you are still yourself. While it is good to adapt to your new country of residence, it is not good to just discard who you are and where you come from in the effort to fit in with the crowd. Just be yourself! Take note of the different practices and culture of your new country of residence but don’t be too eager to change your personality in order to fit in. People are still people, and while cultures may be different, the basics of manners, behaviour and good intention are universal. Give yourself some time to ease in to your new home and you’ll find that you will gradually fit in effortlessly.