I often get asked the question, ‘what makes a relocation successful’? or ‘how can you help people to settle in quickly?’
I believe that part of the answer is quite simple, regardless of where you’re moving to or from. The secret is mostly in the planning and preparation – getting organised. Doing plenty of research is absolutely crucial – get your bearings, speak to people who have had experience. When your affairs are in order, you know what to expect, and you have an action plan for the move and the first months of arrival, I promise that this can get you halfway over the line. You can avoid anticipatory stress – the feeling of not knowing what’s around the corner, or the helpless feeling you can get – which can cause immense anxiety and undue stress.
The other part can be somewhat less controllable, but can be managed all the same. Your mindset and attitude toward the move, and getting in the right frame of mind can mean the difference between expat glory or abject failure. Positivity is important, as is the desire to make it work. I do stress, however, that it is crucial that this optimism is founded on research and getting a full picture of what adventure lies ahead. Blissful optimism, simply based on wanting, or desperately needing, change can end in tears. It’s a tough balance to strike.
Here are my 6 top tips to increasing the chances of a successful relocation:
1. Pre-move preparation – the value of planning cannot be underestimated when organising a move. Getting your finances in order, sourcing quotes, shopping around, having a timeline of what needs to achieved and by when, offers a good framework that minimises surprises and opportunity for things to go wrong. And some things will go wrong! Think: getting your finances in order, preparing your CV, transferring your money, travel bookings… Is the task too daunting, do you need support? Now is the time to decide.
2. Arrival preparation – Have a plan or checklist of what needs to happen once you arrive. Tasks will range from finding a home, renting furniture until your shipment arrives, setting up and registering with the relevant authorities, establishing a bank account… Don’t underestimate the power of mental preparation also. Stay optimistic, keep calm and level headed, give yourself plenty of time to relieve the pressure of the task at hand. Understand that this is a big upheaval, and know that it won’t be plain sailing. It’s the choice of how you deal with it that matters.
3. Research and ask for help – speak to as many people as possible: friends, family, colleagues. If you don’t know of anyone, hop online onto the many expat forums that exist and post your questions there, ask for help. Get to know the media landscape, research the property market and prices, get the names of contacts, look at the job market, research local resources that are available.
4. Establish a routine – based on your planning, you will know what needs to happen on arrival. Your checklist of tasks and goals needs to be clear and decisive for at least the first 3-4 weeks after arriving. Understand the turnaround of properties, keep busy with set up tasks, these are tedious but essential. Make sure that you also have some fun activities worked into your schedule.
5. Get your bearings – know the geography of where you’re moving to. Where is the main business district, how does public transport work? Do you need a car, if so, how much is the rental vs buying, petrol, insurance etc? Where are the local amenities, schools and other services?
6. Goal-setting – this is important for work and play. Set goals around number of job applications you want to send, joining a gym or sports team, set travel goals – weekends away and further afield. Do you want to learn a new skill or hobby – perhaps something you wouldn’t ordinarily have done at ‘home’ – surfing or sailing perhaps? Goals help you to stay focused, with a sense that you’re aiming towards something, and can help towards a fulfilling time here. Get cracking!
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