Hi! My name is Virginia and for the past 17 years I’ve been an expat. My expat life started soon after graduating from University back in my hometown in Venezuela, when I was offered an international position for an Oil Service Company in Scotland, and without much hesitation I packed my bags and began my adventures.
During this time, I have lived in 7 different cities and have now an Argentinean husband and 3 kids, each with a different nationality. From my own experience I would love to share with you some survival tips on relocating.
- Find someone who actually lives or has recently lived in the new location and contact them. You might not know anyone in your network but for sure your friends will probably know someone. It will truly give you peace of mind to hear from a person with experience of where you are about to live and get all the tips and their personal experience in that location. Most likely they will be glad to help as they were probably helped by someone when they got there first. So, ask a “local”!
- Investigate the new location. Some people will travel for a short trip just to research home, schools, etc. In case you can’t do that internet has lot of information and it will also help a lot if you research all the requirements for getting work permits and all kinds of paperwork you might need (for example in Brazil you can only take your kids to a hotel if you have their birth certificate with you and are a parent). You might want to translate some important documents to the local language as well.
- Farewells to Family and Friends. This is the toughest thing to do, because while your head might be busy understanding all the unknown challenges you will be facing pretty soon, you have to make time to see all your friends and family and give them comfort and love as they are suffering losing you.
- Make a Bucket list of what to do before you go. Even if is the first time you ever leave your hometown there must be places or things you want to do that are specific to the place. Eat in your favorite restaurant, travel to that city you always wanted to visit, etc. Make sure you take that memory with you and if you can share the moment with people special to you it will be even better!
- Pack just not essentials but specials. Remember to bring something with you that reminds you of home (this applies specially to kids who are very sensitive about leaving their toys and things) and keep it somewhere visible. You will be homesick at some point and It will give you great comfort and strength to keep going.
Moving can be very hard but it is also an opportunity to explore and discover new cultures, people and even a new you. It is very important to acknowledge and grief the leaving of home as it will set you on the right foot to start your new adventure! Good Luck!