Keeping in touch while living abroad

Relocating to a new home, job and life abroad has to be one of life’s ultimate adventures. A brand new country beckons, offering the chance to absorb a new culture, learn a new language or discover a whole new way of life. But HSBC’s Expat Explorer survey reports that one of the top stumbling blocks that can sometimes make all the difference between settling into your host country and pining away for those you have left behind, is the ability to stay in touch with loved ones back home.
Sadly, we are not always able to take everyone we’d like to see on a day-to-day basis along for the ride; and for some expats, this factor can cause a great deal of sadness or guilt – particularly if birthdays or special occasions are missed. Expats moving abroad with children can be affected, as grandparents and cherished grandchildren may live continents apart. It may even affect the destination of choice, with some expats only considering European destinations so they can visit home frequently, while for others, it might end up as the factor that calls time on the whole adventure.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Luckily, the times they are a-changing and in our increasingly digital world, it has become easier than ever for expats to keep in touch with friends and family when living abroad; technological developments mean you are no longer cut off from loved ones. The limited options of yesteryear – expensive phone-calls, email that people check once a week, letters (remember them?) – are no longer relevant now that we are confronted with a range of new channels to keep us all connected.
Social media has taken the world by storm – the world and his dog now have a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account, ideal for instant communication with loved ones and sharing your thoughts and photos with the people you care about back home. Team this with the fact that technology is becoming ever more mobile and that even primary school children are toting their smartphones and iPads around town these days, and you can see why it is so much easier nowadays to get that instant contact. Ever wake up and check your phone first thing? We bet you’re in good company.
If social media isn’t your cup of tea, then why not download one of the popular messaging apps keeping expats connected. Whatsapp and Viber allow you to message and send pictures to loved ones all over the world, all for free – you just need an internet connection. You can even form group chats to have conversations and share pictures with several family members or friends at once.
One of the most popular options for expats is, of course, making calls via the internet. Providers such as Skype allow you to phone home using your internet connection; additionally, should you choose to set up a camera, you can actually talk face-to-face too, or even have a catch up over a glass of wine.
As a final note, although some expats might chuckle at the idea of using good old snail mail, there is also something to be said for the lost art of letter writing. Receiving a hand-written note in the post brightens up anyone’s day, even if it is just a postcard. So, get on the technological bandwagon and polish up your writing skills – there really is no excuse to fall out of touch with the ones you love.
If you are considering relocating, Cadogan Tate will assist you every step of the way – from your first enquiry  to unpacking at your new home, we are here to help and advise you. For more details about Cadogan Tate’s specialist international removals services from London, click here.
Information correct at time of publication.