In the Expat Explorer Survey 2009, we found that there were a number of expats who said that “adapting to the local culture” was one of the key challenges they faced while others found “re-establishing a social life, being accepted into the local community and making friends” a difficulty. Expat life isn’t easy but there are some things you can do even before moving to your new home to make your move and integration easier even before leaving your (current) front door. Below are some handy tips that expats can follow.
1. Do your homework
With the increasing ubiquity of the internet, any prospective or current expat has access to a vast array of research portals, including access to online expat communities. There are many sites that offer a good range of advice and articles for you to get a good feel of the new destination you are heading to and tips before you set off.
Here are a few good places you can start with:
- Expat Forum – Boasting almost 60,000 members (and growing), Expat Forum provides hundreds of helpful articles, news and interviews that are relevant for the country you are heading to.
- Expat Exchange – Established for more than 10 years, you can find a rich pool of resources and articles and connect with other expats on their forum.
2. Using Twitter
Many expats also share their stories and handy tips on Twitter. Twitter is a great place to start a conversation with local expats even before you arrive in the country. Use the twitter search function to find expats working and living in the area and follow them. The great thing about twitter is you can meet like-minded individuals and people who have experienced a similar situation to your own. Use a #tweetup hashtag to set up a meeting with your fellow tweeters for when you arrive.
3. Blog, bloggers, blogging
Look out for expat blogs in your destination country to get an idea of what life is like on the other side before you move. Often bloggers share insights and the practicalities of obtaining permits, converting your driver’s licence and the best local gems to head to on a Friday evening. Get in touch with the blogger or leave a comment on their blog post. Check out Jessica Spiegel’s post on a list of 15 of the Best Expat Blogs.
You might even be inspired to start your own blog with your own discoveries. Blogspot is a good place to start.
There are of course many other handy tips and tricks for people either looking to become expats or expats who are looking to make a move to another location. If there's anything that you've found has worked particularly well, feel free to share here as we're sure that many expats out there would love to hear your thoughts!