Things I Wish I Knew Before Moving Abroad
Permanently moving abroad can be one of the scariest life moves you may ever make. Comments from friends and families can often make it seem scarier than it needs to be or seem like too much of a hurdle to jump through. If only I knew before moving abroad.
Every expat and digital nomad in history has looked back on their first time abroad and thought, “wow, I wish I had known that from the very beginning.” So, what are the things you wish you knew before moving abroad?
The good news is that becoming an expat is the most fun and rewarding life change that you could ever make. With this article, you can learn about some of the most common mistakes that new digital nomads make and, in turn, be able to avoid them for yourself.
1. It’s Easier to Make Friends Than You Think
Most expats choose to live in a large city or a popular city for a digital nomad or tourist community. This makes it extremely easy to make friends, even more so than in your home country.
Friends are easy to make because you already all have one thing in common: you’re foreigners! The expat community is a great opportunity to network, make business connections, and create lifelong friendships.
2. You Will Need to Stick to a Budget
Many expats make the mistake of not budgeting or saving money while abroad because the cost of living is generally much cheaper than your home country. However, remember that things add up quickly.
You may end up spending much more money on food, drinks, or rent than you originally anticipated. Make sure to adhere to a budget and keep track of the current conversion rates for the local currency.
3. Every Day Won’t Be a Vacation
Contrary to people’s Instagram feeds, not every day will be fun and games. You are still living in a country working as a digital nomad. This means some days will be busy working and doing online job searching. Just like life in your home country, you will have bad and hard days. However, beach views and awesome friends always make everything better.
4. There is Literally WIFI Everywhere
Next on our list of things we knew before moving abroad is, many people get nervous about the idea of being a digital nomad abroad because they are worried about internet availability. Most expats are genuinely surprised at the wide availability of WIFI in other countries. Sometimes the most unassuming of places will have the best internet connection. As a general rule, though, coffee shops, hostels, and hotels usually have the best internet.
5. You will need to build a support network
The main mission upon landing should be to make friends and connections. Expats are generally friendly and very welcoming of newcomers because they know how hard it can be to settle into a new country. Join local expat pages, talk to your neighbors, and attend local events. This is crucial for ensuring that your life abroad is safe and secure.
6. You Will Experience Culture Shock
No matter how many times you have traveled or visited a foreign place, culture shock is different when you are living somewhere permanently. You will experience a new language, new customs, and new foods. My best piece of advice for what I wish I knew before moving abroad is: try everything.
Immersing yourself head-on into the culture is the absolute best way to become accustomed to it quickly. It’s also a great way to make local friends and get involved in the community.
7. Sometimes You’ll Feel Like a Child Again
To learn a new language and be willing to ask for help even when it’s embarrassing, you will have to have a child-like mindset. You may feel stupid asking mundane questions or feel weird about asking for directions, but in general, people love to help. Local people love to help visitors and expats alike.
Try to lose the embarrassment and just do your best! Locals will be thankful you are trying to adapt to their culture and way of life.
8. You’ll Lose Touch Will People at Home
When you move away, you may be in a different time zone or a completely different stage of life than your friends back home. It will be easy to lose touch, and relationships will change. When looking at things I wish I knew before moving abroad, make it a top priority to stay in contact with people that are important to you. Invite them to visit if they can and keep them involved even though they are further away than before.
9. Transportation Will Look Vastly Different
Public transportation can be drastically different than what you are used to and sometimes downright dangerous. Many expats opt for buying a car so that they can rely on themselves for their transportation. However, if a car is not in your budget, transportation can be fast and reliable if you know how to look for it.
Always ask other expats who they use as drivers and who they trust to take them places. If you plan on riding on the back of a motorbike, bring your helmet. Keep your belongings secure and close to your body when riding in buses or metros.
10. Life Will Move Much Slower
The most common expats’ complaints are “My driver is always an hour late!” or “My friend showed up two hours after the party started!”. It may seem rude or inappropriate in your home culture, but this kind of behavior is highly normal in other countries.
It’s perfectly acceptable to be hours late for anything, even work. Government procedures such as visas and paperwork also take much longer. Try not to stress and always stay calm, even if you are the only one on time and end up waiting for everyone else.
11. You Need to Develop a Sense of Humor
Things will not always go your way in a foreign country. When it’s not a serious matter, it’s best to learn to laugh it off and move on. People in many foreign countries love to joke and play with people, even in sensitive subject matters. Don’t take things to heart and learn to joke back! They can take as much as they give. For example, calling someone fat in most African countries is simply a joke saying they are healthy. Take it as a compliment and use the opportunity to make friends and ask about local customs.
12. You May Learn Some New Things About Yourself
Living in a new environment will quickly make you learn about yourself, including the good, the bad, and the ugly. You will notice you have stereotypes and prejudices that you need to learn to get over. You will also learn about the great personality traits you have that you never even knew about!
Most people learn they can adapt to new situations much easier than they thought they could. So even if there are things you wish you knew before moving abroad take your time as a digital nomad to grow those parts of yourself that need work. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to learn about all the great traits you already have that can help make you successful!
Overall, leading a life abroad is extremely rewarding, and the opportunity should be grabbed every single time. It’s a great time to network, learn about another culture and learn about yourself along the way.
Thanks, and we hope you enjoyed the 12 things I wish I knew before moving abroad.