Moving house is always stressful, it’s always been strewn with obstacles and personal challenges. When you throw in the extra stress of moving to an entirely different country, it’s helpful to proceed with your plans with an open mind and a well researched set of knowledge. Humans have been relocating, changing countries and choosing nomadic lifestyles since the beginning of time. It’s no new thing to want to seek out new adventures in the hopes of a happier and more prosperous future for yourself, your friends and your family. We relocated from the UK to Spain for exactly those reasons and are now planning our next move. Today we’re sharing a few areas you may want to consider when trying to adapt to life in a new country, wherever you might end up, go boldly and bravely.
Lots of people don’t think they can live in a different country because of the language barrier. Naturally, if you do speak the native language you’ll have a massive advantage when it comes to everything, but it’s really not essential from the start. If you’re moving to a city, the chances are that English will still be spoken in many places, there’s always more of an international mix in a city. We’d recommend learning some basics before you go, try a free app like Duolingo to get you started and then try to find a class or a language exchange in your new country, Facebook Events and Groups are a good place to find cheap or free classes. Google Translate is always there if you get stuck, the app is particularly helpful with it’s audio features for perfecting pronunciation or communicating with someone via the app if you get desperate. Watching films or TV in the local language with English subtitles or English content with foreign subtitles is also a super easy way to start picking up bits and bobs. In our experience, it’s often British and American people who struggle the most, usually because our culture and education system doesn’t prioritise learning languages like the rest of the World does.
Mealtimes and Eating
Each country has a different pattern and style when it comes to usual meal times and food choices. In most places you will find Western dish options and many well known chains are present across the globe, so if you are a fussy eater, there’s always a way to eat! The main thing to consider when moving to a new country is mealtimes, as this dictates the opening times for many food services. For example, in Spain it’s common to not have your evening meal until well past 10pm, meaning that many restaurants don’t open until 8pm, we also have siestas meaning that small businesses often close for up to 4 hours in the middle of the day. A quick search of a guide book will help you learn what to expect and how you might adapt to your specific situation. Home comforts like black tea bags or Jelly Babies might become a new challenge to source, but with access to the internet and friends back home, if you really can’t live without something in particular, you can still have it. Different countries have different types of ingredients more readily available too, so if you want to eat fresh and local, you may find yourself discovering new recipes and priorities in your diet.
Religious and Cultural Considerations
Something that is often overlooked is the cultural and religious background of where you are moving to. It’s easy to take things for granted and if you’re not religious at all, it’s often an area totally forgotten. This area mainly comes down to learning respect and understanding to any differences, once you understand why things are as they are, it’ll make life easier for you as well as helping you expand your horizons. For example, Spain is mainly a Catholic country, so religious holidays and Sundays usually comply with this faith and in this case, it means you have more Bank Holidays than you were expecting! Spain also has a history of being part of a dictatorship, which didn’t end officially until the mid-80s, so many people here still remember this time and it influences many parts of modern culture too. Do your research, be respectful and consider how the history and religion of the country may impact day to day life and the attitudes of locals.
If you’re currently experiencing any long-term health problems, this should be a priority for you. If you’re a Brit moving within the European Union, you can currently use your EHIC to gain access to NHS type treatment within the EU, well, until we know what’s happening with Brexit that is. If you don’t have any immediate problems, you can take a little time to organise your healthcare options once you’re integrated into your chosen countries system. Access to healthcare varies drastically country to country so do your own research on this. If you want to be super sure, you can invest in Health Insurance or Travel Insurance that fits your personal needs. Another thing that may be an implication, depending on where you are going is if there are any particular vaccinations to have before you arrive, get these done around 6 weeks before you move. If there’s a complete emergency, you can go to the local hospital, but depending on the countries set-up you may be left with a hefty bill to pay if you don’t have insurance.
Money can be boring, but it is essential for getting anything done. Depending on the format of your move, it may be worth setting up a local bank account before you move. Having a bank account in the country you plan to live in makes all the basic set-up admin far easier than trying to do it from your usual bank account. Alternatively, you can consider a bank that offers benefits for international travellers, it all depends on your personal financial needs. Google is your friend here, so do some research into bank fees and options that are most suited to immigrants to the country you’re heading to. Many international banks offer their services in English, so this might be something you look for when you’re finding the right bank. If you’re expecting to get paid in a different currency to that of where you’re living, you’ll need to set up a currency conversion system. We use Paypal and Moneycorp depending on what we’re doing, but there are lots of choices out there. We’d recommend finding a currency conversion provider that works well online or via an app, you’ll save loads of time! Some banks offer currency conversion options, so check this out too and compare. Also research ATM withdrawal charges and if card payments are widely accepted or not in your destination country. Depending on where you are, it may be more useful to work with cash than card day to day and you need to be ready to adapt to this.
We hope this post helped settle your nerves a little, there is a lot to plan when moving abroad, but it could be the best thing you ever did. Don’t let something as simple as a language barrier hold you back from your next adventure or career opportunity! Just keep remembering that many people have done this before you and you won’t be the last, so anything is possible if you want it enough!