Expert tips on settling in to your country of choice

One of the real joys of moving to live and work in another country, is having the opportunity to experience a completely different culture, way of life and fresh landscape.
While it’s easy to stick within a small expat network, it can be a much more enriching experience to try and integrate with the local community and support small, regional businesses. We have some top tips on settling into your new home, wherever in the world that might be.

Learn the language

When relocating for work to a country with strong business ties to the UK, it’s perfectly possible to get by on just English, but that can be very limiting. In order to really integrate with the locals, having at least a basic understanding of the language is a real bonus. Many communities will appreciate the effort and be willing to help expand vocabulary, and the more the local tongue is used, the easier it is to retain words and phrases, and become more fluent.

Talk to people

Get to know people within the local community. Pick small corner shops rather than British-focused expat stores or large supermarkets, and chat to the staff about their products. Speak to taxi drivers, business owners, domestic workers, childcare providers, teachers, etc, as chatting is the best way to get inside information on the best places to visit, the best restaurants to eat in and hidden gems.

Don’t be afraid to say yes!

Talking to lots of different people can lead to invitations to try clubs or groups, to go to parties and so on. Don’t be afraid to say yes, as it could lead to new connections, business or personal. It can be intimidating not knowing anyone, but making the effort to turn up and meet new people helps to widen the network and lead to more opportunities in the future.

Join the club

Research groups and clubs based on hobbies for a great way to meet like-minded people. For example, many countries have running clubs or walking groups for those interested in sport, and these can offer a great social network as well as a chance to see more of the area on foot. Industry networking groups are common in most cities and can lead to both important business contacts as well as personal connections.

Go online

Sometimes it’s nice to get advice from others who have been in the same situation, and an online forum, such as InterNations can put expats in touch with each other. It’s a good way to meet new people in the same boat, but also they may have lived in the country for a while and have lots of tips for settling in.

Be open minded

Going into a new country and expecting everything to be the same as at home is never going to work. The pace of life could be very different, and that can take some adjusting to. It can be particularly difficult coming from a bustling city with a strong focus on work, to a country that puts just as much emphasis on downtime and relaxing. This may be the very reason for the move, but it can still be a lifestyle shock. Allow time to adjust and keep an open mind to all opportunities that arise. Stay in touch
The hardest part about settling in somewhere new is missing everything and everyone left behind. From the very outset, keep in touch with friends and family and hold on to that connection to home. It’s important to prioritise regular email and phone contact when possible.

Ask for help

Things like learning the transport system, or not knowing the best place to go to pick up groceries, can enhance the feeling of being an outsider. But ask for help and advice and learn along the way, and the next time it will be easier. In time, day-to-day life will feel as comfortable and natural as it did before the move.
Information correct at the time of publication.