How to Prepare for Life as an Expat

Working as an expat is exciting. You experience new cultures, environments, foods, languages, and more. But moving to a foreign country involves culture shock. For example, learning a new language and navigating cultural differences are difficult. Are you feeling hesitant about expat life? Prepare for your expat adventure by analyzing concerns and making plans for your worries. Take a look at two­­­­ common expat concerns.

House Hunting

Perhaps you've decided you want to rent a house, or you're looking for a studio apartment. Maybe you've made a list of amenities you want. That's a good start. However, housing terminology in your country likely isn't the same terminology used in your destination country. For example, if you're moving to London, do you know what 'terraced' housing means? How about 'maisonette' housing? You'll need help understanding housing terms—not to mention pricing and location.

Your best options are likely hiring a real estate agent or using an expat housing service, such as RentSlam. Both services take into consideration space, location, budget, and more. Also, an agent or expat housing service know how to identify and avoid housing scams. Rather than struggling through house hunting with your limited knowledge, seek out services with professional and local knowledge.

Support/Social Network

Often, expats don't realize how lonely they might feel when they arrive. The excitement of the move can overshadow the loneliness at first. But homesickness is a common struggle. With your main support network of friends and family in a different country, you may feel isolated in a country where you know virtually no one. Start building a new support system as soon as possible.

After work, make connecting with people a priority. Join clubs and activities you enjoy—anything that will get you out and interacting. For example, signing up for language classes will help improve your communication skills and get you talking with a native regularly. Club memberships connect you with people with common interests.

Also, while spending time with locals will acclimate you to the culture, it's still important to connect with other expats. You need the new experiences, but you also need the support of someone who truly understands your struggles. Fellow expats can empathize with your culture shock and adjustment. Seek out other expats at work or on online expat forums.

Working as an expat doesn't need to be stressful. As long as you are aware of common challenges and how to address them, your experience will be a positive one. Take the time and effort to plan your move and your continual adjustment.