Moving to a new country? Read these tips from the experts first

I’ve moved countries about nine times in my life. I say ‘about’ because to be honest I can’t really remember.

You think I’d get better at it, but each time moving countries throws up new challenges.

For anyone else going through the move, I thought to share a few tips from some of my favourite travel bloggers, expat community founders and global nomad friends from across the globe:

How to move to a new country - expat life

Do the paperwork

As an expat myself, I would say my best piece of advice would be to get all the necessary paperwork in order to be able to live as “normally” as possible. So you can get a job, go to the doctor, house hunt, etc. Getting all the necessary paperwork feels more official, too, like you really belong in your new country!

Laura Burgess, XpatAthens – an online community keeping locals and visitors connected with the Greek capital

Go offline

In many parts of Italy, much to the horror of millenials like myself, business is conducted offline and in-person. This means if you’re moving to Italy and want to find a roommate situation, you’re going to want to be physically in the country so you can comb cork boards at the university or laundromat for a place to live like you’ve seen people do in 80’s movies.

If you’re able to afford a place entirely by yourself, you can try sites like Kijiji and Airbnb. There are also tons of managed apartments and you can easily find those places online but they’re always insanely overpriced and cater to students (and ripping them off).

And most importantly, use the buddy system when going to look at apartments. Italy is beautiful and safe the people are lovely, but there are psychos everywhere. Nobody wants to get murdered while house hunting. Good luck!

M.E. Evans, Surviving In Italy, a hilarious take on life in Italy including spilled wine, cobblestones and epic chest hair

How to move to a new country - tips from the experts
Photo: Surviving in Italy

And online

Seek out online communities. This is one of the best ways to get a taste for what expat life is like, as well as get questions answered – fast!

Nearly everywhere these days has some kind of Facebook page or forum where residents post their tips, questions, and comments, and this is especially helpful if you have kids.

Also, find out what you can get abroad. Not every country has the things you love! I found out in advance if the country I was moving to had my favorite products (especially baby items!) and stocked up.

Helen Cordery, editor of Querida Recoleta, a blog offering a real, human take on living in Santiago de Chile, especially with children. 

How to move abroad. Tips from the experts
Photo: Querida Recoleta

Learn the lingo and visit first

First, I highly recommend learning some local language before you arrive.

While Ecuadorians learn English in school, most are not comfortable speaking English. It’s amazing how a little Spanish can open opportunities to share traditions and cultures that otherwise would remain off-limits.

Secondly, don’t move without visiting first.

Ecuador, for example is very diverse. A city like Quito might leave you panting for breath because of the altitude. The heat of Guayaquil might sap all your energy. The expat community in Cuenca might be too much of a good thing. So plan a trip that allows you to explore, before deciding that it will make your perfect home.

Angie Drake, Not Your Average American – independent and authentic travel guides to Ecuador and beyond

Consider your lifestyle

Canada is the second largest country in the world and every part of the country is different from each other, so it would be wise to pick a city or town that speaks to your lifestyle.

Looking for a vibrant culture and food scene? Toronto may be your spot. Looking for a smaller city vibe with outdoor adventure easily accessible? Victoria, BC may be an option.

Think about the lifestyle you want (public transit vs. driving, city vs. suburb) when you choose your neighbourhood because where you live will impact your social life significantly. Ensure you speak to various locals before settling on a neighbourhood because everyone thinks theirs is best. If you’re moving with young kids be sure to check out the schools and daycare options as most have a lottery system or a waitlist in place.

The country is as vast as it is diverse and you’ll most likely be calling yourself a Canadian in no time!

Yashy Murphy, Baby & Life. Born in Sri Lanka raised in Dubai, Bahrain, Pakistan, U.S, Australia and England, Yashy is now based in Toronto and writes about maintaining the pre baby lifestyle, post baby.

How to move to a new country - tips from the experts
Photo: Baby & Life

And finally… take the rough with the smooth

Don’t be afraid of the ups and downs; some days will be amazing and you’ll be on cloud nine living the international dream. Other days may be lonely, isolating, and confusing.

Embrace it all because when you look back on your time abroad you’ll remember the good times and learn from the harder moments.

Alison Cavatore, Found & Editorial Director, Global Living Magazine, a lifestyle magazine and resource for expats worldwide


If you’re a US citizen moving to Chile, check out these tips from a US liaison officer

If you’re moving to Algiers, Mumbai, Delhi, Manila, New York or any other city, be sure to check out my Expater guides or let me know and I’ll write a new one! 

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