How do I move to a new country? What things do I need to do when moving to a new country?
Maybe it’s because I’m turning 40 next year, maybe it’s because I’m a serial expat… whatever the reason I’ve come to realise that there are more important things to consider when moving to another country than passports and visas.
If you’re in the process of moving to a new country, or are struggling to find balance overseas, this guest post by Travel & Life Abroad Coach Veerle Beelen may help.
Veerle is a Dutch, English, and Spanish-speaking Travel & Life Abroad Coach. Certified with the International Coaching Federation, she guides people in their process of moving abroad. Whenever asked ‘How do I move to a new country?’ she advises her clients to focus on this one single thing…
The single thing you should consider when moving to another country
With the pandemic slowly coming to an end, more people have been thinking about moving somewhere new. However, often when planning our move, we only focus on the external circumstances, like visas, housing, jobs, costs etc. Of course, these practical matters are all very relevant when preparing your move abroad, but often in the midst of it all we forget one important thing: our mindset.
I often get asked ‘What things do I need to do when moving to a new country?’ Well, in this article I’ll share why mindset is the most important thing to focus on when moving to a new country and how mindset can help you to overcome bigger life challenges. Let’s dive right in!
What does it mean to focus on your mindset when moving abroad?
First of all, before we will go into more practical tips, I want to explain to you what I mean with focusing on your mindset when moving to a new country.
During my own personal experiences while living abroad in different countries, and also in my professional life as an Immigration Specialist and Travel & Life Abroad Coach, I noticed that expats often develop their mindset in ways that help them to adjust to the changes in their lives when moving somewhere new.
This doesn’t always happen on a conscious level, but it is formed by all the new experiences abroad. Like everything in life, when you move abroad, things don’t always go as planned. However, the question is what to do with the challenges on your path. Do you focus on finding solutions for the obstacles or do you get stuck in the problems?
When you move abroad, things don’t always go as planned. Do you focus on finding solutions for the obstacles or do you get stuck in the problems?
When you move somewhere new, even when you prepare yourself, you never really know what to expect. Even though, moving abroad can feel like a fresh start, that doesn’t mean that you leave everything behind. You are still taking yourself with you, including your mindset.
It’s helpful to get into the right frame of mind already before your move. This will make it easier for you to immerse yourself into your new country and to enjoy the journey, instead of feeling overwhelmed by everything that needs to be arranged and all the changes around you.
Now, let me give you some practical, actionable steps that you can start with today to prepare yourself for your move. Also, even if you have moved already and are currently an expat somewhere in the world, these tips may give you some new inspiration and motivation to work on your mindset.
We can keep on working on our mindset throughout our lives. We never stop learning and can always benefit from taking a break now and then to reflect on the stage that we are currently in.
How can you embrace the right mindset for your move?
I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach, because we are all unique and have different backgrounds, experiences and ways of learning.
I invite you to read through the tips that I give you in this article and find out what resonates with you the most and that you may find helpful to use. It’s about your journey and finding out what works for you. These are suggestions, based on my own expat experiences and the experiences of my clients.
How focusing on my mindset has helped me to overcome challenges abroad
All of the ways that I mention here have helped me a lot during my own expat experiences. For example, when I moved to Barcelona in Spain, I only spoke ten words of Spanish. I knew I had to learn the language quickly in order to be able to find my way in daily life. Even basic things like doing groceries or taking the bus, were a challenge.
Instead of seeing this language barrier as an obstacle, I decided to immerse myself into it, to be curious to learn and to be positive that things would work out even if I didn’t understand everything. In the meantime, I was also open to ask for the support I needed, not only by taking a language course, but also by connecting with people who could help me find my way and to take my skills to the next level. Eventually, that growth mindset helped me to learn Spanish faster and to also feel more comfortable in my new surroundings.
Another of my personal examples is when I moved to Australia. As of the first day when I started working there, my corporate job as an Immigration Consultant was very demanding. Quickly I felt very overwhelmed and I knew that I had to make some changes in order to create a better work/life balance for myself and actually enjoy my new life in Sydney. Feeling stressed and overworked wasn’t going to help me to make the most out of my life abroad.
Then I started to reconnect with myself again in different ways. For example, by re-evaluating what is important to me, what I value in life and the reason why I had moved across the globe. Lots of journaling and long coastal walks helped me to gain the clarity and stress relief I had been looking for. Sometimes it’s also the realisation that you need to slow down now, so that you can speed up in the long run.
Sometimes you need to slow down now, so that you can speed up in the long run.
I hope the tips I have shared in this article help you during your own journey of becoming an expat or while living in a new country already. Use this list as a guide whenever you feel lost or overwhelmed and focus on the areas where you feel like you could improve to feel better again.
Moving somewhere new is a lifechanging experience and with the right mindset you can make sure that it becomes as easy and enjoyable as possible!
- Be positive
This may sound like an open door to you, but if you focus on being positive as much as possible, things in life can become easier. Of course, that sounds very simple, but in practice it can often be hard to really focus on this.
The reason is that our human brain is wired to focus on the negative more than the positive. This was important thousands of years ago, as a survival instinct, but it’s not always relevant for us right now.
However, adopting a more positive mindset and turning down the volume of the negativity in your head, is something you can practice. The more you focus on being positive, the more positive you will become and you can re-wire yourself to do this. It will not only make your move abroad easier, but also more enjoyable. Because, as I will discuss further in this article, there will always be circumstances that won’t really work out the way you imagined.
You may think that focusing on your mindset just means being positive. Of course, this is very important and that’s why I have put this first. However, you will find out that there are more ways to embrace the right mindset for you.
- Be flexible
As I mentioned, things don’t always go as planned. From the preparation process of your move, through the journey, upon arrival at your new destination and beyond. Being flexible with whatever comes your way, is key to making sure your move becomes a success. Perhaps your visa process gets delayed, your flight gets cancelled or you get lost in your new city… it could all happen.
However, it’s about how you deal with this whether it affects you or whether you can learn from the experience and try to find a way to solve it.
- Be openminded
When you move to another country, one of the challenges you face is adjusting to all the new things around you. Whether those are cultural differences, language barriers, a new job or something else entirely.
The challenge often lies in the fact that things are different than what you were used to. This can be positive and you can actually enjoy all of these changes, but for many people this can be a challenge as well. Instead of shutting out these new experiences, try to be open minded to all the things that you are not used to and immerse yourself. This can really help during a move.
- Be curious
Embrace the mindset of being a life-long learner. Whether that means learning the local language of your new destination or learning more about local people’s habits to gain a better understanding of their daily life, there is so much to learn when you move abroad.
Even before your move, while you are in the preparation phase, open curiosity will help you to find the right information to get ready.
- Be kind to yourself
If you feel stressed or overwhelmed, if your to-do list is too long, this is often when you have the most negative self-talk. Yet, in these situations it’s when you need your own support the most.
Be kind to yourself. Practice self-care. This can mean different things to you. For example, taking time for some meditation, exercise, a hot bath, or a nice meal. Whatever helps you to re-connect with yourself.
Especially when moving countries and leaving your familiar surroundings behind, practicing self-care is very important. It can not only help you to stay centred, but also to avoid feelings of loneliness.
When you’re kind to yourself, it’s much easier to enjoy your own company, because you realise that wherever you go, you have a strong foundation within yourself.
- Connect with yourself
Having the right mindset for your move means being connected with yourself. What I mean by this is, understanding your values, your goals and your purpose.
What are the things that are important to you? Why do you want to move? What is the outcome you seek abroad? Answering these questions will help you to feel more powerful and connected to yourself. When everything around you changes, you have this foundation to fall back on.
If you find it hard to know how to connect with yourself, I recommend you to try out some of the self-care practices I listed before. Meditation can be very helpful, but also journaling can help you gain clarity and to understand yourself on a deeper level. Personally, dancing helps me as well to connect my body and my mind. Sometimes you have to try out a few things and give it some time to figure out what works best for you.
- Be patient
Not everything is always within our control, especially when we embark on the adventure of moving to a new country. There will be parts of the process that will undoubtedly challenge your patience. Whether that’s the processing time of your visa application, the search for the right apartment, or the approval of your assignment contract from your employer, things can take a long time and are not always within your control.
Focusing on the things that are in your control while remaining patient for everything else outside of your control, can really help to reduce stress levels.
- Be open to support
While the above tips all focused on yourself, it’s important to realise that you don’t have to figure everything out alone. Becoming an expat is very exciting, but can also feel overwhelming at times.
Besides the practical part of arranging everything from paperwork to shipping etc., there is also the emotional part of saying goodbye to your previous life.
There are so many expats around the world and lots of people and companies who can help you before your move and during your transition abroad. Whatever your question is, probably someone has had the same question once before you.
Don’t waste time and energy trying to do everything by yourself, but find the right resources you need to help you with your move. It’s okay to ask for support whenever you feel you need it during the process.
Veerle Beelen is a Dutch, English, and Spanish-speaking ICF certified Travel & Life Abroad Coach who guides people in their process of moving abroad. She helps her clients fully thrive in all areas of their life while they live abroad. For more follow her on Instagram, Facebook or visit UnpackByVeer.com.