Moving Abroad: How to Settle Your Family in a New Country

Moving to a new country can be a daunting – if exciting – experience, and if you are moving with your whole family it can be tricky to work out the logistics. What can also be difficult is settling everyone in once you reach your intended destination. Here are some ideas on how to do that, and keep everyone smiling.

Be Understanding

It can be exciting looking at houses and finding Costa del Sol property bargains. It can be exciting finding a new job to go to. It can be exciting when you go to your new country to visit. Now that the reality has set in, however, the excitement can easily be replaced with nerves, anxiety, even sadness. It’s hard to leave somewhere you’ve lived and go somewhere else, and it’s even harder to do that when it’s a whole new country with a different currency and culture. So be understanding if your child comes to you and seems tearful, or says they don’t want to go. Yes, it might feel disappointing, you might feel irritated or even angry, but don’t show it. Show compassion and talk to them about their fears – it will help them (and you) much more. The ‘settlement curve’ has four stages. They are: fun, fright, flight, and fit. Eventually it will all come together (‘fit’), so it’s during the ‘fright’ and ‘flight’ stages that you will need to do the most work, and the most comforting.

Learn The Language

Something that will really help everyone to settle in much easier is to learn the language of the country you are heading to – assuming that language isn’t already your first language. Even if the people where you are going primarily speak your own language, it’s good to know the native tongue. It will allow you to meet more people, get more involved in your new community and discuss important matters with anyone and everyone who you need to speak with. For the children, it will help immensely when they go to school. It will assist them in understanding lessons more quickly, and help them to make friends. You can start learning before you go, perhaps by having classes together as a family. Once you arrive, try to speak the language as much as possible when you are out and about – even if you’re speaking to family members – as this will cement it much more quickly.

Don’t Lose Touch
If you are moving to a new country, then it’s important to keep in touch with your friends and family back home. Being away from the place you lived most of your life can soon become lonely after the initial excitement wears off, until you make friends in your new place. Being able to phone, Skype, or email your loved ones will help you to feel better, and you won’t feel so alone anymore. Thanks to modern technology, keeping in touch with your friends and family is much easier – and cheaper – than ever before. Remember to consider purchasing an international SIM card for your phone so that you can be contacted easily too.

Online Forums

Many people move abroad every year for a variety of reasons, so there are hundreds of online forums for expats, no matter where you have come from, or where you are going. Join in, and you’ll soon discover lots of people thinking and feeling exactly the same as you, going through the same issues, and getting great advice. Don’t be too proud to ask a question, even if the answer is an obvious one. Everyone has to learn somewhere. You can then use this advice to help your family settle in, particularly if they are too young to use these forums themselves.

Local Clubs

The sooner you start to meet all the locals, the better – they are the ones who will be able to give you information about the place you’re now living in, and where you can go for advice. Sometimes it can be hard to meet people if you are working full time, so local clubs are a great help. Ask at your children’s school for any ideas on which clubs run, when they run, and how to find them, and then have a think about whether they would suit you. You can take up a new hobby, or get back into something you haven’t done for a long time.

Get To Know The Local Customs

Every country has its own set of customs, each one understood and accepted perfectly by locals, but which could be a little confusing for newcomers. Take the time to explore these customs so that they don’t seem strange and unusual anymore – and then join in with them where you can. Different cultures have different salutations, for example, or different ways of eating a meal (or indicating when you’re done). There are many ways for cultures to differ from one another, so make sure you’re reading up on the right things before you try them!

Prepare Well In Advance
The earlier you prepare for a big move like this, the easier it will be. Things to think about include setting up a new bank account, pre-arranging your utilities in your new home, setting up payments for them, finding school places, and organizing a car if you’re going to need one. Some things may not be possible to do until you get there, and that’s okay – keep them in mind so that you can get onto them right away once you have moved. Make sure you visit the place you’re heading to a number of times – once or twice isn’t really enough to get a proper gauge of what it’s like – at various times of the year. Somewhere that’s gorgeous in the summer might not be so great during the winter, for example. Prepare as much as you can so that once you arrive you can slot easily into a routine, and this will make life a lot easier for your entire family, especially the children.

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