We asked current and former expats from the AFAR community for their top tips on how to move to—and settle down in—another country. This is what they told us.
Most avid travelers share a common dream of experiencing life abroad. In our March/April 2017 issue, we shared six important tips from expats who’ve already made the leap—but AFAR’s readers and writers had such a wealth of knowledge to impart, we wanted to relay it all. For those who constantly have expat life on the mind, this advice will help you approach—and enjoy—the many facets of the lifestyle. With this insight, you’ll be more than prepared when you’re finally ready to make the move.
On settling in:
“When I first moved to Paris, I’d go on a 30-minute walk around my new neighborhood every evening to help familiarize myself with the area. It totally helped me get my bearings.”—Emma Bentley (@emmabentley87)
“Prepare never to be comfortable. Low expectations mean that every achievement is an exciting one.”—Bryan Pirolli (@WhereIsBryanP)
On learning the language:
“Push yourself to speak the language. Even if everyone just responds in English, make sure to practice theirs.”—Lola A. Åkerström (@LolaAkinmade)
“Immersion language classes really help with learning the language and fitting in—especially since you almost always become friends with your language teachers or classmates.”—Amy Paulsen (@amybarcelona)
“Learn the language’s untranslatable words to unlock a world that had not been open to you.”—David Farley (@davidfarley)
On storing your belongings:
“I used to have stuff stored in the U.S. but ultimately purged most of it, and now everything I own is here in my apartment in Rome.”—Gillian McGuire (@gmcguireinrome)
“Australia has these great Taxi boxes but they're only 5 x 7 x 8 feet! I put all my stuff in just one to go to Ireland!”—Serena Renner (@serena_renner)
“Reduce stuff and live light. It makes moving elevator-less flats easier (especially in Europe).”—Bryan Pirolli (@WhereIsBryanP)
On raising kids abroad:
“I’ve strongly considered moving abroad to HAVE kids—it means dual citizenship for them and the birth process is often cheaper abroad than it is in the United States.”—Christine Amorose (@cestchristine)
Read more about why raising your kids abroad is the best thing you can do for them.
On putting down roots:
“Mingle in cafés, go to events at local libraries, bookstores, and galleries, and chat with locals. Don’t stay in a bubble.”—Lindsey Tramuta (@LostNCheeseland)
“Join expat groups online and never say ‘no’ to an invitation.”—Ashley Rossi (@ashley_stravel)
“Create routines! That barista will know your order someday, and on that day, you’ll feel like the queen of the city.”—Mary Zakheim (@MaryZakheim)
“Remember and respect your own culture as you learn a new one.”—Joshua Berman (@tranquilotravel)