Essential Tips for Settling Abroad: A Complete Guide for Expats

It is very common to see people nurse an ambition for settling abroad. For some people, it is just a desire to tour the world and spend quality time in a completely new environment. For others, schooling, a new job, marriage, and the likes will inspire their ambition to travel abroad. While you’re working at it or perhaps already jubilating and counting down to your travel date, you will also need these essential tips for settling abroad successfully to start living your desired life as an expat abroad.

  • Be prepared

Settling abroad is more than just transporting yourself from one place to another. I bet you already know you have a bag to pack and with that, a lot of things must not be forgotten. Don’t be tempted to wait till the dying minute to pack up. Get prepared and on time. You will need immigration paperwork and that will take some time to be processed in your current city. Also, living in another country will certainly be overbearing if you do not settle on time, especially because you left important documents behind. So, confirm that you have all your documents properly packed. Softcopy documents are scarcely accepted and having people send them down for you will take some time too. Ensure necessary documents are packed safely in your bag.

  • Pack a few things

You will be settling abroad and some things can be bought on arrival. Don’t be tempted to overpack and also, do not under-pack. You must have a few useful items with you. That mattress and shelf you really love can be bought when you have settled. Make sure you pack light luggage and items you can use for about a month while still settling abroad. Things like your books and clothes make this list. Furniture and other household items can be replaced. If there are things you must go with, you can ship them ahead of you or use the water option. Remember that the weightier your items, the more costs you incur.

  • Research properly about your new location

There are a lot of things you will need to know about your new city to help you in settling abroad. You do not want to violate local laws and others. The best way to help yourself is to research your soon-to-be new city. What are the laws guiding them that vary from that in your home city? Having a knowledge of this will help you begin to adjust early so you don’t get too used to your former liberty and have yourself locked up for violation of laws. You will also need to know about their housing modalities. As a new ex-pat, you might opt for a hotel or hostel accommodation in the meantime and you will have a little more ease if you know their options for accommodation and housing too. Are there health insurance schemes that can cover you? This is something to look out for too.

  • Be open to making new friends

You want to know how to settle abroad? Then you must be open to making new friends. As you plan on migrating, your arrangements cover you, not your entire network, right? So, you will have to build a new network. Be social, and make new friends. It gets really difficult for introverts because they tend to be too lonely and this is not so good for a foreigner.

Join social groups online and preferably offline too. Do you fancy early morning jogs, cycling, reading, or anything at all? Identify people who share similar hobbies as you. Join them for early morning jogs, cycle with them in the evenings, attend those book clubs, etc. This will certainly help you socialize and make friends with people whom you share similar hobbies with.

Also consider making friends with expats like you, especially those who have stayed longer than you. Their experiences will help you settle earlier. This is not to say that you should outgrow your old network and friends. Except for personal reasons, you should still have old friends for regular chit-chats, etc. You do not have to outrightly leave your family and old friends for the new. You are only expanding your network. See how to meet people and make connections.

  • Get a job

If your reason for settling abroad is not because you got a job offer in a foreign country, you will need to be financially stable. It gets tougher when you are financially unstable in a foreign country. So, start early to get a job. You already had a skill before traveling? Beautiful! Now is the time to continue earning from your skill. There is so much that inflowing finance can do to help you settle easier abroad. Remember you didn’t travel abroad with your bed and you will need to buy another? Restocking is one of many reasons you will need to earn an income. Also remember, this is not a city you’re used to, with many people to ask for help. You can findĀ  relevant information about working abroad here.

  • Open a bank account

Getting a bank account and a mobile connection is one thing people forget easily. Your previous banking halls might not be what you see on the streets and you will need to do lots of transactions already. So, open a bank account where you can receive, transfer and make payments easily in the currency of your new location. You will also need to keep communication flowing at home and with your new environs. Don’t forget to get connected with a preferred service provider and share your mobile number to help you easily navigate the country.

Source: international
  • Ask questions and seek a second opinion

It is very important that you don’t try to figure things out yourself. At least the first few months you’re trying to settle, ask questions. Road connections, bus stations, grocery stores, tax payment, anything of that sort. You will encounter people ask for legitimate demands from you, like your tax payment. Ensure to ask questions before proceeding with any of such transactions. Very important is that you cultivate the habit of seeking a second opinion. Don’t just proceed after a one-off conversation to make transactions and commitments. You might be transacting with the wrong authority or individual. Get at least a second opinion from expats or your hosts. It will keep you on track.

  • Build a routine

While you’re still trying to settle down abroad, it could get really tough on you if you do not consider building a routine. Imagine waking up and all you have to do is make your meal, watch the television, and sleep. Imagine this is your life, you who have been very occupied in growing your business back home. Living this way for months can run you into depression and overthinking. You’re still processing your permits and everything you need to settle abroad without harassment, right? Build a routine. Make a to-do list. How will you spend those days so they don’t look wasted? Your hobbies can make this list or anything that will help with personal development; workout, study, visit a new friend, take a stroll, see a movie, blog or vlog it away.

  • Take your time

Don’t be in such a hurry to settle that you forget to rest. Take your time, breathe. It might take longer than you expected to settle, prepare your mind for it. Watch out for the items you shipped from your former country of residence. This is a good time to restock and properly furnish your apartment too. If you intend to venture into a business abroad, this might be the time to carry out surveys of a favorable marketplace and businesses with a demand. Many people tend to overwork themselves at this point, trying to get everything done immediately. Things take time and you can maximize the waiting period.

  • Learn the language

You might not be in a country that has the same national language as your former country. Settling gets tougher when you do not know the language. Learn numbers and how they are said in amounts. Learn and put it to practice. When you go out, shopping for groceries, try to communicate in the accepted language. You will have a little communication barrier but the more you keep at it, stammering, and stuttering, the faster you gain mastery. Shying away from communicating in the language would only make you feel like a stranger for a longer time and make associating difficult.

  • Get ready for different food and culture

Settling abroad will mean that you are leaving home food and culture. You will now have to search widely before you find a meal that you are used to. Be ready to adapt to all that the new environment comes with. Don’t go starving because you want your regular local food. If you find one, be prepared to pay higher for them because they will be scarcely cultivated if not shipped. Bracing up and adjusting your taste buds to love the new food is as important as adjusting to a new culture. If you were used to flogging children as a disciplinary measure, this might not be the acceptable culture now. Not adjusting to the new culture is more like deciding to violate laws. You could be sanctioned.

Settling abroad definitely requires more than the excitement you feel. It requires some more work and preparedness and these are not at all beyond you.

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  1. Really good post, @Yutee
    About the acceptance of soft copy documents, it is gradually becoming a common practice that most countries, especially in the west, prefer digital copies to printed ones. Is this something that you have experienced?
    I, for one, have experienced it many times. I mean, no one would reject a hard copy of your document, but digital copies are widely accepted.

    1. Thank you for pointing that out too.
      Softcopy documents are beginning to gain acceptance but to be on a safer side incase you encounter people who emphasize on print, carry the hardcopy along for every travel.

  2. If the country where you are traveling from has an e-commerce website for selling things, like eBay or German’s better version,, and the likes, that may be a good way to sell things like furniture and other household items that you can’t travel with. The good part is, when you settle down in your new country, you can again buy fairly used items and start with.

    This has worked for me many times and I highly recommend anyone traveling abroad to do the same, of course, if there are no better or more economic options.