How to Survive the First Weeks After Moving Abroad

by | Jul 3, 2022 | Live Work Play Travel | 6 comments

Moving overseas is very exciting, yet extremely daunting. When I went to the UK on a working holiday I arrived at London’s Heathrow Airport with no friends, family, a place to live or a job. And I thought, ‘what on earth I had done’! I could have easily got on a plane home, but didn’t. And I’m glad I didn’t. But I must say, those first weeks after moving overseas were the hardest. Why? Because it takes time to find a place to live, get a job and set yourself up. But I didn’t throw in the towel, though sometimes I could have. But once I had set up my new life I began to really enjoy myself. So if you are moving overseas to live and work in another country, here’s my best tips on how to survive the first weeks after moving overseas. You can thank me later!

 

What to Know Before You Go

 

That’s right. Travel is about discovering the world for yourself however, there are a few things I would suggest you know before you go. I wish someone had given me a few tips of what to expect before moving to a new country. Without spoiling everything for you, here are my best tips to survive the first weeks after moving overseas to a new country.

 

Prepare Yourself by Doing some Research

 

The key to a great overseas move is to prepare yourself before moving abroad. Yep, some people may say ‘you are overdoing it’ but I say preparing yourself will help you to hit the ground running. My first tip to surviving your first weeks after moving overseas is to do some research on the city and country you plan to move to. I wish I had known more before I arrived in London – then maybe I wouldn’t have stood at the airport wondering what to do! So knowing things, like how you will get from the airport into town and how much it will cost can be game changers. As is knowing what clothes you should pack so you can dress appropriately for the weather you will be arriving in. Having accommodation pre-booked I think is a definite, see following, that is my second biggest tip to surviving your move abroad. Other things I suggest is to learn a few words of the language of your new country. Knowing how to say hello, goodbye, how much, how are you, please, thank you and get lost will be useful as those who speak another language often appreciate you trying to communicate with them. And discovering what public transport is available will also be helpful. Ensuring you have the right visa will also help.

 

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Have Somewhere to Stay When You First Arrive

 

The first thing to do to help you survive the first few weeks after moving overseas is to have somewhere to stay when you arrive. I would definitely book a place for at least two weeks. I suggest two weeks because by the time you have recovered from jet lag, sorted out things like getting a SIM card and done some sightseeing the week will almost be up. So don’t put pressure on yourself, give yourself the extra time to sort things out. I mostly book a two-week stay in a hostel or a hotel for my arrival. Then I look for something longer term which can be in an AirBnb. Lately, I have also been using Facebook accommodation groups to find longer term accommodation. So this is definitely the first option to help you survive the first weeks after moving overseas – have accommodation booked that will be your initial base. I recommend booking with HostelWorld if wanting a bed in a hostel, Booking.com for hostels and hotels and AirBnB for something longer. If interested in housesitting and getting free accommodation in return for looking after someones home and their pets, then check out Trusted Housesitters.

 

Pack Useful Items

 

There are many useful travel items to travel with. If you take them all, you may need a second bag! Some, that I never travel without are a hanging toiletry bag, universal plug adaptor, spork and plate, packing cubes and my RFID document holder. As you travel, you will discover many others that are useful.

 

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Get Things Sorted in the First Weeks After Moving Overseas

 

Once you arrive in your new country there are some practicalities that must be taken care of. Definitely get these things sorted because once you have, you won’t have to worry about them again.

  1. Purchase a local SIM Card. You will need to make calls to help organise the following.
  2. Start Looking for a Place to Live. This, I have found to be the hardest thing to do while living overseas.
  3. If planning to work. Register for a Tax Number.
  4. Open a local bank account for your salary to be paid into. Though accounts like WISE and Revolut can be used.
  5. Find a Job.
  6. Get to Know Your Neighbourhood – find the local supermarket. See what restaurants are available. Is there a park you can get some exercise in? Are there places to go out to like pubs, nightclubs, etc. Is there public transport to get you around?
  7. Start Enjoying Yourself.

 

Coping With Loneliness In Your First Weeks After Moving Overseas

 

If you have travelled overseas solo, it can initially feel quite lonely in a new country, particularly if you don’t know anyone. Home sickness in those first few weeks is often what sends people running home! Yes, it can be lonely which is why you need to get out there and do things and meet people. One of the best things to do is to stay in a hostel after arriving because they are full of single travellers, doing what you are doing. And you never know, you might just find a friend. Another thing to do is keep up your hobbies. Look for a sport club, gym, choir or book club to join. Even join Facebook groups, there are plenty of expats living in cities around the world posting meet-ups and social gatherings.

 

Don’t Expect Everything to go to Plan

 

In a perfect world, you arrive in another country, find somewhere to live, get a job and meet new people. I wish it was that easy! Not everything can go to plan. You might not find anywhere to live. Your dream job doesn’t find you a ‘dream’. You don’t understand the customs and you haven’t met anyone because you cannot speak the language! It is important to have realistic expectations when moving abroad that things may not be as plain sailing as you had hoped. My best advice is to go with the flow, get the practicalities sorted out first and then the fun should start. 

 

Start Exploring and Having Fun

 

If things haven’t gone to plan, persevere and start exploring and having fun. Forget about finding somewhere to live and getting a job. Take the time for yourself to get to know your knew home and some of the local customs. This will help you to settle in if you forget about any major problems if you start exploring and having fun. Take the stresses off yourself and have a bit of fun.

 

Finally, Surviving your First Few Weeks after Moving Overseas

 

Everyone’s journey is different when moving abroad, but from having done it a number of times, there are things I always do to help me survive those first few weeks. And I’ve listed them in this post. I hope you have the best time as while surviving your first few weeks after moving overseas. I’d love to hear how you survived in the comments following.

 

Female Checking Phone After Moving Abroad.

Thanks for sharing!

Useful Travel Resources for Your Next Adventure!

 

Accommodation: Where Will You Sleep Tonight? If you want a bed in a hostel dorm find a great deal with HostelWorld. I mostly stay in hotels now, Booking.com is my favourite site for booking hotels from budget to ‘I feel like splurging’. For something completely different I house and pet sitting through Trusted Housesitters – this has saved me thousands on accommodation, no joke!

Flights: I always head to Skyscanner first to find a cheap and flexible flight.

Car Rental: When I need to rent a car I turn to RentalCars.

Train Travel: I love riding the train rails and get the best value from Eurail and Interrail Passes. And Japan has a great one too – JapanRail Pass.

Bus Travel: Check out Busbud for bus tickets.

Pre-organised Tours: I’ve been on a few in my time with Contiki being my first and favourite. if you are 18-35 years of age you should check them out.

Jump-the-queue entrance tickets: I don’t enjoy standing in long queues which is why I book my entrance tickets and day trips in advance. My favourite website to book them in advance is GetYourGuide.

Travel Insurance. There are a number of reasons why travel insurance is important and I never travel without having bought a policy as you never know when something might happen. World Nomads is great for general travel insurance while SafetyWing is great digital nomads and long-term travellers.

Need something else? Check out my Resources page.

 

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Hi. Sharyn here, the face behind Live Work Play Travel. I’ve been travelling all my life thanks to my dad who worked for an airline. My aim with this blog is to help you work abroad or work online and travel the world.   Read more.

 

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Hi, Sharyn here. I’m the face behind Live Work Play Travel. I’ve travelled all my life thanks to my dad who worked for an airline – thanks dad! I’ve been a travel writer/blogger and living a location independent lifestyle since 1993. My aim with Live Work Play Travel is to provide you with the info to start living, working and travelling around the world like I do. I currently live in Melbourne with my partner and 2 kids. 

6 Comments

  1. Alexandrea

    Great tips for handling a move abroad! Moving abroad is a huge decision and your guidance is insightful.

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      I’ve moved abroad a number of times and so this post was written from first-hand experience. I’m glad you like my tips.

      Reply
  2. Hannah

    This is a great guide. I have moved countries so many times, and my list looks a lot like this! Being prepared for things not going to plan is a really pertinent one – prepare for the worst / hope for the best!

    Reply
    • Sharyn McCullum

      Yes, moving abroad isn’t always a bed of roses – it is best to be prepared.

      Reply
  3. Erin

    Such a great article! I think loneliness and comfort of ones own setting definitely sets in at some point. I definitely plan to share when one of my family moves abroad.

    Reply
  4. Jeanine

    This is fantastic advice, especially researching and having some accommodation booked, at least you then have a little bit organised…

    Reply

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