Top tips for settling into your new home
Relocating overseas is an exciting experience. For many people arrival in a new home means a chance to try different experiences or take on a new adventure. But for others the feelings of excitement may be replaced with feelings of being overwhelmed, homesick and a sense of culture shock. But luckily this can be avoided. To help you settle into your new home, Kimberley Millhouse, Senior Move Manager at Crown Relocations, has put together some practical tips.
Once you are over the jet lag you will undoubtedly be excited and full of enthusiasm about your new destination. You really should harness this energy as much as possible - now is the time to get your map out and explore the local area. This will immediately give you a sense of where you are, which will help to build your feelings of comfort and familiarity. Don’t hesitate to ask for advice or directions from locals, it’s likely that they will be more than happy to help.
Try to walk as much as you can; only by walking will you know how your new surroundings fit together. The more you walk, the quicker you will become a ‘local’ and find out how best to get from A to B.
Use this chance to make the most of your new surroundings, buy a guidebook and visit all of the local popular tourist places – even if it feels like a cliché, these places are part of what makes your new home special. Plan out your first couple of weeks and create a to-do list of places you would like to visit.
Learn the language
If English isn’t the native language then do take the time to learn the language of your new host country. The locals will appreciate your efforts and it will make you feel more confident in your new environment. Also remember that legal documents in some countries may not be printed in English so you may need to be competent in the language or be able to go to someone that is.
Meet the locals
Ensure sure you make contact with other people locally; neighbours are probably the quickest way to get to know your area. Make sure you introduce yourself to them early on as they can help you in dealing with public authorities, finding schools and helping you find your way around. The more people you talk to, the more you will learn about the habits and culture of your new environment and, importantly, make new friends.
Join local groups that match your interests and hobbies – this will help you make a new circle of friends with similar interests. You could also volunteer for local charities or hospices to help you feel part of your community.
Join expat groups
Investigate local expat groups and, when you arrive, make an effort to join as many as possible. The members of these groups can be a vital source of encouragement, practical assistance and information to help you settle in.
Expat groups can also be a great way to build your support network and make friends, which can be particularly important if you are in a country with a different first language to your own. Expats will be able to help you practice the language, as well as learn the local culture. What’s more, you can use their experiences of local services, from dentists to tap classes, to find out the best places to use.
Remember - they have been through the same process as you and will therefore know and understand what you are going through, as well as the needs you might have. Don’t be shy about asking for help.
Add your personal touch
Once you have found your new home it helps to try and get it set up as quickly as possible. Make a list of all of the things that you will need to turn your new accommodation into a home. Putting up pictures of your friends and family can help you feel more at home. Decorating your home with things like plants, curtains and pictures will help you to feel like you belong as you adjust it to your own personal taste.
Establish a routine
It is helpful to establish a routine using elements of your old lifestyle that you wish to continue, such as going to a gym, cinema or eating out. Doing the activities that you are used to will help you to avoid feeling homesick. Routines make us feel comfortable and in control, so they are important in helping you adjust to your new home. However, try not to become too set in a routine as you may miss out on experiencing all that your new home has to offer, moving to a new place can be a great opportunity to try out new activities.
Don’t let distance keep you apart
Keeping in touch with loved ones can help to reduce the feeling of homesickness which is crucial when you first relocate. Nowadays, there is a wide variety of low cost, quick and user-friendly ways to maintain contact.
The internet is a great way of keeping the cost of staying in touch down. Software such as Skype allows you to phone people through the internet so you can make free calls for as long as you like and, if they have a webcam, you will be able to see whoever you’re talking to.
Social networking websites such as Facebook allow you to share photos, have live chats and catch up on what is happening back home. Make sure you keep your profile up-to-date so your loved ones can see what you are up to and in turn, keep you posted on the latest from them. They will want to hear all about how you are getting on and can provide support and advice as you begin your new life abroad.
The popularity and improvements of smartphones in recent years have meant that there is a greater number of applications available to download that can help you keep in touch with people back home. Some applications allow you to make international phone calls on your mobile for free and provide instant messaging services, ensuring you stay in contact cheaply whilst on the go.
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Approaching your new life overseas with keenness and positivity will give your relocation a greater chance of success. If you can quickly develop a routine, this will help pass the time while you are going through the adjustment period and help you to feel more at ease abroad. Give it time as it will be a great feeling when you look back at how well you have settled in and come to terms with new a culture, food and languages in a country different to your own.
If you're yet to relocate overseas and would like some tips on preparing for the big move, click here to read advice from our most experienced Packers.