If you’re moving overseas, whether permanently or just for a few years, you’ll naturally have some concerns about settling in and making a life for yourself and your family there. Once you’re actually in and your team of international movers has driven off, you may feel a bit lost. Don’t worry, take a deep breath and get going on this to-do list.
Drive and wander around
Once you’ve unpacked the basics, spend a day driving around, spotting shops, gyms, parks and everything else you’ll need, like electricals shops, pools, and any specialist stores. You’ll get your bearings in no time; you should ask your international movers for tips, too because if they’re regular visitors to your new location, they’ll be able to point you in the right direction.
Go and visit the neighbours
This is one of the biggest steps to settling in. Wait until the weekend, when everyone’s relatively relaxed and simply go and knock on a few doors with your contact details and a big smile. Yes, it’s nerve-wracking, but there’s bound to be a few “bites” if you speak to enough people. If there’s a language barrier, learn a few phrases and find the nearest immigrant group. Watch out for key people in the neighbourhood – the shopkeeper, the friendly older couple, the local social butterfly – as these people can get you “in”.
Join online forums and go to events
Make sure you change your location on social media as you’ll get alerts about meet-ups, events, festivals and so on. Go to as many things as you can and make a point of speaking to at least three people at each one; aim for people who are similar to you – retired, young families, dog-owners…
Make like a tourist
Tourists do tourist stuff so they get to know a city, right? You’re like a tourist at first, except you aren’t going home so soon, so get on a bus tour, visit the museums, walk through the parks and read the guidebooks.
Visit all the city websites
This might not be as exciting as a festival or a museum visit, but spending some time on the council website will help you to get to know the place. You’ll find out about hospitals, charities, the fire service, the local dignitaries, the holidays calendar and all that jazz. It won’t feel like it at the time, but it’ll speed up your settling in process.