If you follow this blog, you know I write a lot about moms and mom issues. I’m a total mom advocate and a huge fan of moms creating at home income, but there’s another side of me. I’m an expat, and I didn’t just move once.
My husband and I move our two kids every two to three years to another part of the world. In fact, in the last 5 years, we’ve moved 8 times. Most recently, we moved to China with a two-year-old and a newborn (YIKES! is right. Welcome to my life.) So, if you’re about to make a big change, read this blog post. I’m going to share my moving secrets and today, I’m sharing 20 ways to make a new country feel like home in 30 days or less.
Let’s be honest.
Moving sucks! And while moving to a new country (or anywhere) can be exciting, it also requires a TON of rapid learning. You may have to learn to navigate in a new place not to mention where to get groceries and where to buy a new SIM card for your phone. Oh, and you may not be able to speak the language. And this is just the first day.
Before we dive into to these 20 tips, I make two assumptions. First, I’m going to assume you already have a new place to live. Otherwise, that’ll make getting comfy in your new country take a little longer. Second, I’m going to assume your new place is furnished with the essentials and you may or may not have shipped personal items.
Given those assumptions, let me share with you my 20 hacks to make your new country your new home in 30 days or less. In no particular order, they include:
1. Resist the urge to nap.
Jetlag is real and it can add a whole new level of drama to your transition, especially if you have kids. When you arrive in your new city, attempt to keep your (and the kids’) normal bedtime and napping schedule. Start how you’d like to continue. It’ll be hard at first, but your bodies will adjust to any time zone changes MUCH faster.
2. Reestablish Your Home Routine.
Get that routine going immediately. The sooner you know what to anticipate, the easier it’ll be to transition into ‘home mode’ and out of vacation mode.
3. Learn how to use local currency and understand its equivalence to your own.
I always have a problem with this. Don’t be like me. Research the currency changes ahead of your departure. Know what to expect and understand how much of the new currency equates to your home currency.
4. Buy a SIM Card/Get a Local Cell Phone.
Get connected. Makes exploring so much more fun, especially if you have Google Maps on your phone.
5. Set up an internet account for your home.
Home isn’t home without internet. I’m only exaggerating a tad…
6. Take a walk in a different direction from your house every day.
Go out and explore. Figure out what’s in your neighborhood, and you may even meet some new people.
7. Have daily family adventures.
Go somewhere new every day. One day, explore the nearest grocery store. The next day, you could find another store or pharmacy. Plan a day to find the nearest hospital is. Make it fun.
8. Take taxis for the first month instead of the bus or metro.
So this may be a tad pricey (depending on your exchange rate in your new country), but taking taxis is amazing. Taxi drivers know cities in a way few tourist ever learn. Taking taxis for a few weeks helps you learn shortcuts to your favorite places and you’re likely to spot new places you want to check out. It’s a great way to help you mentally map the city.
9. Explore a few grocery stores.
Try a new one every week. Grocery stores and fresh air markets are always exciting. Prices, quality, and convenience can vary greatly. So go get to know your options.
10. Research Local Expat Clubs/Associations & Go to An Event.
Don’t wait to feel “settled” to find the expat community. Feeling “settled” may not happen for a while, but meeting new friends to help you navigate this new place will go along way to help this new country feel like home.
11. Attend a place of worship.
If you have a religion, cool. If you don’t have a religion, that’s cool too. Find a place of worship. You don’t have to have a religion to go to a place of worship. You just have to believe in something greater than yourself. Going to a place of worship opens you up to join a community of people. If you’re the same religion, you automatically have a commonality. If you’re not the same religion (or any religion), you have an opportunity to learn something new. Remember, learning does not mean accepting or embracing. It just means learning. Just be honest and be yourself. You may make a new friend.
12. Tour schools if kids are school-aged.
Get the kiddos in school! Tour a couple and have a list of non-negotiables, before you start touring, to make sure your kids are in the best possible environment.
13. Open a local bank account and deposit money.
This is a biggie in some countries. Having a bank account opens you up to be able to do transfer funds into the account without having to carry cash all the time.
14. Take language classes.
I bet you thought I forgot. Get your hind parts into a language class, go find a tutor (or both). No doing Rosetta Stone alone at home is not enough. You need to interact with people and have someone help you with your pronunciation. You gotta start living in the language.
15. Find favorite foods.
Find local equivalents to make your family’s favorite dishes.
16. Try Local Dishes.
Go out to a local restaurant at least once a week and try some local dishes
17. Hang out at parks and talk to people.
This works particularly well if you have small kids or a dog. Parks are teeming with people and its easy to strike up a conversation.
18. Join an expat club.
Nope, it doesn’t really matter what club it is as long as you have a passing interest, and it’s not going to land you in jail.
19. Say Yes.
Be open. Say yes to invitations when you want to say no. Say yes to trying new things when you want to run in the opposite direction. You’ll be a better person because of it and you may make a new connection.
20. Phone home.
Determine how you’re going to stay in touch with your home country. Popular options are Skype, Magic Jack, Vonage, FaceTime, WeChat, or Whatsapp.
When you move, it can be tempting to flounder for a bit and to feel uprooted and unsettled. With these 20 life hacks, you’ll have your choice of activities to do and new things to experience. In no time, your new country will feel like home in 30 days or less.