Category Archives for "WanderTips"

Copenhagen on a Budget

It is no secret that Copenhagen is one of the most expensive cities in Europe. As a Uni student, with limited funds and used to dealing in pounds and euros, I felt quite overwhelmed when I arrived on an early morning flight into the city – tired, sweaty (it was during a heat wave) and struggling to wrap my head around the Danish Krone. After whipping out our conversion apps in front of countless restaurant signs, my friends and I quickly became alarmed at the prices. But once we got over the initial shock of the exchange rate, we found that it was not too difficult to do on a budget, and in fact we actually had a better, more authentic experience for it.

The Danes are some of the friendliest and most helpful people in any city I have come across. Countless times were we speculating about directions or discussing the food or attractions we wanted to experience when we were overheard and helped by a passer-by. 

Now I am the first to admit that I am a bit of a princess when I travel abroad, with expensive taste and a keenness to try the best cuisine and experience the most attractions possible, but despite going on a restrictive budget, Copenhagen was one of the best city breaks I’ve ever been on. Here is my guide to doing Copenhagen on a budget.

Food

As we stayed outside the city and next to a large mall, we managed to do breakfast pretty easily, grabbing a yoghurt and a pastry from the supermarket and getting a coffee once we reached the city.

For lunch, we found ourselves returning again and again to Torvehallerne, a large, covered market with two halls offering a range of different eateries. There was plenty of choice for veggies and vegans and lots of traditional Danish foods on offer, as well as delicious bakeries, fresh fruit and vegetable stalls and independent food and beverage start-ups, perfect for souvenirs. Laura’s Bakery was a firm favourite, offering the best cinnamon rolls we had ever tasted (we must have had about five each on our three day trip…).

For dinner, some of the best food can be found in Copenhagen’s street food markets. Set up in an old shipyard, Reffen is where you will find organic, locally sourced food from innovative start-ups who work with reusable materials to reduce waste as far as possible. The Bridge Street Kitchen across The Inner Harbour Bridge is a smaller market, but offers beautiful views of the harbour while you eat. And if you’re wanting to treat yourself to a proper sit down meal, I would thoroughly recommend Fiskekutteren HM800 Jammerbugt – a little boat in Nyhavn which sells freshly caught fish, to be eaten with stunning views on the top deck. At around €15, we thought this was fantastic value for money.

In terms of drinking water, the streets are filled with water fountains and even water from bathroom sinks is generally safe to drink. Environmentalists will rejoice as plastic bottles can be recycled in most supermarkets and they will give you back the equivalent of 10p for it. A lot of the homeless in the city will collect up the waste, asking you for your empty bottles which they can exchange for money.

Travel

Even if, like me, you are quite terrified at the mere thought of getting on a bike, you will find yourself tempted by the stacks of bikes at food markets, drinks bars and all over the city. In Copenhagen, we were told, cyclists are more respected on the road than cars and indeed, cyclists have their own lanes on every road. They have their own traffic lights, and vehicles are overly cautious of their presence on the roads – we got beeped once by a bus driver who, obviously sensing our inexperience, thought we were about to cycle forward at a red light. I was therefore much more willing to get on a bike than I would have been in the UK, although it did take a while for the initial panic to subside!

For as little as 25 DKK (around £3 at time of writing) an hour, you can get around on one of the public bike shares, docked all around the city, which is arguably the best way to experience Copenhagen. For 70 DKK (around £8.50), you can get free half-hour journeys for a month, which is great value even if you are only there for few days. Cycling down to see The Little Mermaid in the early evening was such a wonderful experience, allowing us to get an idea of the city whilst making our way to one of its major (albeit, a little anticlimactic) tourist destinations.

If cycling isn’t for you, most of the city can be seen on foot – it just takes a little longer.

The city also offers two City Pass options, large and small. The small city pass covers travel from the airport into the city and around the city, whilst the large one covers the greater Copenhagen area. Each are available for 24, 48, 72, 96 and 120 hours, and you can plan your trip around when you think you are most likely to need the public transport. Prices start at 80 DKK for 24 hours, and cover travel on buses, trains and the metro.

Attractions

Even better than the city pass is the Copenhagen Card, offering you all the travel perks of the regular pass but with free entry to a range of attractions. With this one card, you receive free admission for canal tours, museums, castles, churches, Copenhagen Zoo and The Blue Planet. At 619 DKK (around £75) for 48 hours, it is a bit of an eye-watering price to pay upfront when on a budget, but definitely worth it. 48 hours is all you need to cram in the city’s best attractions, and that is your travel and entertainment paid for in one swoop – all that’s left for you to pay for is food.

The card also allows you free admission to Tivoli, the second oldest amusement park in the world and one of the most popular in Europe. However, it is important to note that the card only allows admission – all of the rides have to be paid for once inside, or a separate card has to be bought allowing unlimited access to all rides. I would say it is still worth a visit even without the rides, however – the fairy tale atmosphere is said to have inspired Walt Disney with his own infamous theme park, and it truly is an experience not to be missed. And if you go at the very end of the trip, maybe you’ll be able to use up the last of your krone getting on the rides!

If you travel or live abroad and want to try out out WanderSnacks British food subscription service, use code STORY15 to get 15% off your first box. Free and easy anytime cancellation. 

Enjoyed this article? Let us know in the comments section below. 

 

Moving Abroad Checklist

Moving abroad can be stressful so the friendly lot at WanderingBrits have created a moving abroad checklist to make things easier. You can find lots of tips for packing and moving abroad in our WanderBible which is full of articles for WanderingBrits.  If you can think of anything we’ve missed, feel free to add it to the comments.

Daily Basics

Underwear (preferably at least 2 weeks’ worth)

Pajamas (If you are a wearer of such garments)

Toothbrush & paste

Devices and chargers (laptop, tablet, phone)

Suitable footwear, umbrella and coat

Toiletries – don’t waste space on things you can buy abroad

The Extras

Travel Adapters (1 will not be enough)

Transport map – or at least a link to a decent one

Power pack for your mobile phone

A sim card with good international rates (see ‘Feel at Home’ deals by Three or ‘Feel Like Home’ by Lycamobile)

Emergency phone numbers written on paper – family,  emergency services abroad,  landlord, work

Things you can’t get abroad. Think Cadbury chocolate, a decent cup of tea or for the ladies those monthly applicators can be difficult to find.

Documents

Booking details for transfers, accommodation, health insurance and any useful addresses

Passport

Boarding pass

Driving licence

Qualification certificates

Birth certificate

Wedding/name change ….any other certificates

Hotel confirmation/ Proof of new address

Home comforts (If you have the space)

Pictures

Your lucky charms

Snacks – you can even get these delivered with our WanderSnacks British food box subscription

Top tip: Check with your airline on where your laptop and liquids should be stored for your flight

You can learn how to tactically pack for moving abroad in our WanderBible.

Top 10 tips for surviving your year abroad

So you’ve decided on your year abroad. You may have it all planned out or you may still be a bit confused about the whole thing.  WanderingBrits has plenty of tips and articles that can help you with planning but here are our top 10 most useful things to think about, to help you survive (and hopefully enjoy) your year abroad.

1. Get your finances in order

If you are using grants, student loans or bursaries, ensure you have submitted your applications on time and that the money provided will actually cover your living expenses. If you are moving with your current employer, or getting a new job, it might be a good idea to ensure you have all the documents that they require so that there will be no delay in adding you to their payroll. It is also a good idea to have an emergency fund like some savings stashed away or a very generous parent on hand to bail you out if everything goes wrong.

2.Make friends quickly

You may be the kind of person who doesn’t see the need to have constant social gatherings but when you first move abroad you will have no network and no support system. Sometimes the type of people you become friends with abroad are different to those you grew up with back home but there’s nothing wrong with that.  It is really important that you have people you can talk to or visit new places with. Some people find it very easy to make friends at the office, but others may use social media groups or hobby classes to connect with others. To get the most out of your year abroad you definitely need some company to share it with and it is ok if it takes time to find the perfect overseas buddies as long as you are making an effort.

3. Be open to change

Moving abroad is a big life change and a lot of your preconceptions just won’t fit into your new life and may even get in the way of adapting to your new surroundings. Fitting in requires a bit of self-awareness. The manners and ideas that you grew up with and that you thought were right and wrong are not the same everywhere. In the UK we love to stand in a queue and wait our turn but in some cultures everyone just stands in a semi circle and remembers who was there before them. Things just work a bit differently especially in social situations so it’s important not to take things personally. If somebody’s shouting at you it may just be because you are not following their social norms. The same way that you may be disgruntled at somebody breaking rules that you consider to be polite. Relationships with friends and colleagues can also work differently so be patient and observe what others consider to be the norm. If you are very confused you can always ask someone – your foreign language teacher may be especially helpful when understanding the differences between cultures if you have one.

4. Research public transport

It is worth spending about an hour before you move abroad figuring out how the public transport works in your new city. If you are lucky, you will stumble across an excellent blog or forum that will tell you everything you need to know. At the very minimum you need a map of the public transport network, the name of your local station and an idea of how to purchase tickets. Apps like Deutsche Bahn can be really useful for helping you plan out your route no matter what city you’re in.  At main train stations in cities you may also find that the staff on the help desk can speak English and may be able to tell you which ticket would be best for you. However you will need to figure most of this out yourself. You should also be aware of how expensive the local fines are in case you get the wrong ticket.

5.Plan the fun stuff

A year abroad may turn out to be the best year of your life so make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to enjoy the experience. Make a list of all the things you want to see and do in and around your new city. Be a tourist for the day, visit museums, zoos, cafes, tourist attractions, amusement parks, cinemas or anything else you happen to be interested in.  You can use Tripadvisor to create trips with all the places you want to visit. You may also find that your new city is much closer to other places that you have always wanted to go.  A novelty for Brits is being able to catch trains across borders or even take the train to your holiday destination. If you are on a budget you can even find bus tickets that take you hundreds of miles for as little as 20 Euro.

6. Learn the real language

At school you learnt how to tell people your name, how to ask people where they live and how to ask people their age.  Think about it, if you were in the street of your home town and a foreign person approaches you there is no way on earth you would tell them your age or where you are currently living and you probably won’t care what their name is either. What you learnt in school was probably a great introduction to the language but it may no longer be fit for purpose. The main vocabulary you will need is probably related to ordering food in a restaurant, translating menus, reading food packaging at the supermarket, paying at the supermarket, getting around on public transport and recognising place names and areas in your new city. You may also need some work-related vocabulary depending on your occupation. Maybe you could try writing a lists of useful words or if all else fails, install the Google Translate app on your phone.

7.Say Yes

Obviously you should always keep yourself safe and avoid doing anything illegal but beyond that, you should try to say yes to as many new experiences as possible. Your new colleagues may invite you to a folk festival that you’ve never heard of or some of your expat buddies may be taking some outdoor yoga classes that you don’t think is your thing but it’s worth giving most things a try. Even if you hate it, it may provide you with a very funny story to tell your friends back home.  If your new friends see you trying to make an effort to get involved with what they’re interested in, they may be more inclined to come with you and try out your thing.

8.Be aware of the 3 month slump

About 3 months into living abroad a lot of expats feel a bit down. The novelty has worn off and you are beginning to truly adapt to your new life abroad. Although everything may feel difficult, the skills you are gaining at this point will last a lifetime. The adaptation process provides you with the cultural awareness and empathy that you came for. This is your biggest chance for personal growth so be kind to yourself but keep going. Keep trying to make friends, keep trying to practise the language and keep trying to adapt because after a few more months you will have mastered almost everything. Having an awareness of this feeling will help you to acknowledge it and overcome it.

9.Plan for missing home

Even the most well-travelled and experienced expats miss their home comforts from time to time. Before you leave home make sure you have a few treats in your suitcase and some photos of whatever you need to make you feel more at home. There are plenty of companies that you can find that will send British food out to your new home abroad for those times when you need it. For this reason WanderingBrits set up our very own WanderBox to send you some home comforts every month. It all depends on what matters to you.

10.Prepare for reverse culture shock

You may not have even considered what happens after your year abroad. You have experienced this wonderful life-changing event and you have learnt all about a new culture. You’ve even adapted your way of thinking to be more culturally sensitive. You will have hundreds of stories about all the things that you have seen and challenges you overcame but surprisingly even your closest friends and family don’t seem to care. Your friends may ask how it was and be really interested for a few minutes  but they do not want to hear about it for days or even weeks after you’ve returned. This will take some getting use to but eventually you will find a balance. You can also start your own blog, vlog or Facebook page. You can even submit your stories to WanderingBrits to help others who are beginning their journeys.

Everyone’s experiences are different but hopefully you will find some of these tips useful. If you’ve thought of anything else feel free to add to the comments below.

Top 10 tips for securing accommodation in Germany

Securing the perfect little pad for when you first arrive in Germany can be tough, especially if you haven't mastered the language or are trying to find places from abroad. As renters in Germany benefit from excellent tenancy rights, landlords can be skeptical about who they rent to as it is very difficult for landlords to terminate a rental contract if they are not happy with the tenant.  We've put together 10 simple tips to help you get started. 

1. Treat the process like a job application

When making applications for accommodation in Germany, it is important that you show potential landlords what a great tenant you would be. It is normal to include details such as occupation, age, smoker status and any pets you may have.  In the UK we would normally just request a viewing but the German market is more competitive and therefore you should treat each application more like a job application.  It may be a good idea to draft a standard email to paste into each application. 

2. Find the websites that work for you

Depending on the length of your stay and your monthly budget, you will find some websites more helpful than others. A 'WG' is a very popular form of German flat share, great for students and young professionals but it's actually rather common for old adults to stay in a WG too. You can find these sort of accommodations on https://www.wg-gesucht.de/ but be aware that some flats will only want very specific types of people, so look for an apartment with people of a similar age and lifestyle to yourself. You can also find studio apartments on WG Gesucht. 

For those with a higher budget the following website may be great for expats: https://www.immobilienscout24.de/Suche/de/nordrhein-westfalen/duesseldorf/wg-zimmer?enteredFrom=result_list

Alternatively you can use sites like Airbnb, Expat Facebook groups or ebay. 

3. Timing is everything

Unlike the UK, German Landlords will generally not tolerate any period of unoccupied property.  Many landlords will expect you to begin paying rent from the date that the property is available. Some landlords will allow you to move in a week or two later but moving in over 2 weeks after the available date is very unlikely to be accepted, especially in big cities. This may lead to you having to spend a week or two in a hotel until your accommodation is available, or paying rent a few weeks before you are able to move in. Ideally you want to find accommodation that is available within a few days of your moving date. 

4. You may feel like a foreigner for the first time

Many young German WG occupants may be looking for fellow Germans who can join in with all their social activities and keep up with the conversation. If you have learnt German as a second language it is unlikely that you will be able to keep up with them and they may simply not bother replying to any of your messages. The good news is there are plenty of German landlords who enjoy renting to expats, especially British ones. There are also plenty of international WGs where occupants are looking to improve their English and would jump at the chance of having a Brit join them. It is also a lot easier if you are able to take over accommodation from fellow expats as their landlord is probably used to dealing with their tenants in English.  

5. Get a German buddy

If your German isn't great you may struggle to communicate with potential landlords or they may disregard your application because it is full of grammatical errors. You will also find that all documentation and contracts are in German. It is really useful to have someone on hand who speaks a very high level of German, preferably a native speaker to help you understand what you are doing and to possibly represent you when speaking to landlords. 

6. Viewings from abroad

It is standard practice in Germany for tenants to go and view the property and meet with the landlord before entering into a contract. This gives the landlord a chance to work out if you seem like a responsible and decent person to rent to. This also shows the landlord that you are serious about renting their property and that you are not wasting their time. If you are lucky your employer may pay for you to spend a few days in Germany before you move and you can book a few different viewings for this time. However, if you are a student or are self-funding your move this may not be feasible. Ideally you could send somebody who is already living in Germany to view the property on your behalf. If signing the contract without attending a viewing is your only option then make it clear to the landlord that you are serious about the property and ready to move in.  Obviously you need to be very careful about entering into contracts with people you don't know as there is a real risk of fraud and it does happen. Landlords may like to do a video call with you; genuine ones may be a little slow to reply and may be skeptical. If a landlord is overly keen then this may be a sign of fraud, so make sure you do your research.

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7.Beware of upfront costs

As with the UK, the German market also requests significant refundable deposits which can sometimes seem extortionate. It is important to clarify with the landlord what is payable when, and on which exact date this balance will be refundable. In some cases it may even be possible to negotiate a slightly reduced deposit if the landlord thinks you are a trustworthy person. There are also sometimes furniture costs to be paid upfront which I have outlined below. 

8. Beware of the missing kitchen

One big difference between the German and UK market is when it comes to furniture. In Germany your entire kitchen is often considered to be furniture. Therefore if you rent an unfurnished flat be prepared to completely assemble an entire kitchen and install white goods. Obviously this varies between properties so it is important to check. 

Fully furnished flats are not as common in Germany but sometimes they can come up trumps. Often there is a granny flat attached to a family home that comes complete with bedding, towels, dishes and everything you could ever need but these will often tend to be a bit old fashioned. There is often another section of the market where the previous tenant has spent thousands of Euros furnishing the apartment and now wants the new tenant to buy the furniture off of him. If you do decide to take the flat and buy the existing furniture from the old tenant, you can then either take the furniture with you when you move, or are stuck with the job of trying to sell it onto the next tenant when you move out. This situation is quite common in Germany but it is not a good option for expats as you don't want to be stuck with furniture that you can't get rid of, should you need to move home suddenly. 

9. Research the local area

It's really important if you are new to a city that you understand the area that you are moving into. You can look at crime rates but a good tip would be to look at what kind of businesses are in the area. Companies like Starbucks do a lot of research and tend to concentrate their stores in more affluent areas. You can also look at Supermarkets, stores like Penny and Netto tend to set up in lower income areas whereas Edeka and organic food stores tend to set up in more upmarket areas. This is not always the case but if you know nothing at all about the city it is a good place to start. It can also be a shock to Brits that the areas surrounding the main stations or Hauptbahnhof can attract a lot of anti-social behavior so are best avoided, for safety reasons.  

10. Remember to register

The UK is quite unique in the way that we can just move house without much record. We tend to monitor occupancy with things like council tax or electoral registers. In Germany and many other countries you are required by law to attend a local council building or town hall and complete a registration process. This varies between states but the kind of documents you will need include your passport, accommodation contract and sometimes documentation of employment. There are sometimes documents you can print off and take with you to speed up the process and sometimes a document from your landlord will be required. If you are not sure, take any documents you think may be relevant and the staff there will generally be able to help you or advise you on what forms you are missing. In my experience I have always found the staff to have excellent English and have been very helpful... even if they don't always seem friendly. In the new post-Brexit world, you will need to register with the foreign office as a non-EU immigrant.

By now you may be feeling overwhelmed but once you have found somewhere to call home the whole idea of living abroad will feel a lot more real. It can be difficult at first but after a while you will get the hang of it. It is just a numbers game and it is perfectly normal to apply to dozens and dozens of places before you find a landlord who is interested in renting to you. If you are worried you can share your experiences with fellow expats on social media groups and they will know of other expats who may be leaving Germany and may have an apartment that would be perfect for you. In the end you will find your new home and everything else will be a distant memory. 

The 3 Month Slump

So you’ve made the leap and moved abroad. You’ve got the dream job, relationship or placement that you’ve been working so hard for and everything is fantastic.

But all of a sudden you have this strange feeling that won’t budge. You like living abroad and making great memories but everything is so difficult and draining. It’s a story I’ve heard over and over again from almost every expat I know (myself included).

About 3 months into your new life abroad, a slump occurs. The dream of living abroad on a full time holiday has well and truly worn off, and you are left flustered, struggling to ask for bread in the supermarket. This is the point where everything feels difficult. You have put in so much effort to adapt to the local way of life and learn the language and it feels like you have gotten nowhere.

At this point you’ve tried all the new foods in the supermarket and seen most of the local bars.  You have no idea what that woman is shouting at you for, you can’t find your favourite chocolate in the supermarket and why do I feel like random people keep telling me off!!????

You may have experienced this slump first hand, recognise it happening to friends or you may still have it all to come. The truth is, the slump is just the strong grip of reality, dragging you back to earth. You are not on holiday. You are not abroad to wander around and enjoy yourself. You are there for a purpose and this reality is just sinking in.

The slump that is now hitting you in the face is the pain of personal growth. It may not make sense until you have lived through those feelings of unfamiliarity and not belonging that come with being ‘foreign’. This is the key point in your new life where you are gaining the skills that will stay with you forever. This is the beginning of true cultural understanding. You now know how difficult it is to adapt to a new place where you don’t naturally belong which will give you a lasting sense of empathy when you encounter others struggling with their language skills or looking confused in a supermarket.

The good new is, it doesn’t last. Soon you will begin to thrive in your new environment, but until then there’s plenty you can do to make yourself feel better about your new home.

The first thing is giving yourself some credit. Remember where you were on your first day and where you are now. You’ve figured out how to get the right ticket for public transport, you got your new apartment all set up, you figured out how to order food or what the city looks like on a map or you made new friends and they may even have invited you out with them. You’re doing great and you got this.

It may take a few weeks or even months for those feelings to fade so speak to your friends and family back home, dig into that stash of home snacks you’ve been holding onto and watch your favourite film in your native language.

You are not expected to adapt to your new life overnight. Take on each challenge as it comes and give yourself time. Moving abroad is a big change but you definitely are capable.

Tactically packing for your new life abroad

Holidays, days out, weekends away, you’ve packed thousands of times, but how do you up and move your whole life abroad? Especially with a 23Kg luggage limit!

The best place to start is probably with the strictest clear out of your life. Everything you own from this point forward will cost you in either hold luggage, storage, shipping or car space. Even if your amazing family are allowing you some free storage space, the more space you take up in their houses, the nicer you will have to be to them.

Next you need to prioritise. What is absolutely essential from day 1? You should think about the things you use every day and cannot live without e.g. chargers for your phone and devices, toiletries, your favourite pyjamas or maybe an umbrella? Most of these things will be obvious.

You should also consider what is not available or affordable abroad. This includes things you will specifically need as a new ‘foreigner’. You will need a lot of good quality travel adaptors. Try to buy these in bulk from a reputable online retailer as buying them for £10 each at the airport is far too pricey. You may even want to invest in a universal travel adaptor for your adventures. It is a good idea to do some research and find out what kind of products are available abroad so you can stock up on your favourites and take them with you.

The most important thing to think about is documentation and not just your passport. It’s a good idea to keep your most important documentation like your birth certificate and proof of qualifications with you at all times so that they do not get lost amidst all the moving around. It is also a good idea to take some print outs of your boarding pass, transfer confirmations and new address or hotel reservation just in case you drop your phone in the loo at the airport etc.

So you’ve got your daily essentials, your new adaptors, stockpiles of your favourite chocolate and your important documents. The good news is, any extra space can now be used for your home comforts, your pictures, those teddy bears or your favourite football, but the bad news is there probably won’t be much space left over.

The main thing to remember – you don’t need to pack everything because they do sell shampoo abroad!

Top 10 Reasons to Move Abroad

Here at WanderingBrits moving abroad is what we do. Here’s some of the top reasons our WanderingBrits have come up with for living abroad.  Feel free to add your own thoughts in the comments.

1. Personal Growth

Overcoming the challenges of living abroad will change you as a person. The more new experiences you have, the more you will learn about yourself.

2. Employability

Living abroad is the best way to gain cultural awareness and gain empathy towards others who may also struggle to fit in at first. Employers love this as it proves you can thrive in an international environment.

3. Language

Being immersed in a foreign language is the best and quickest way to develop fluency in a language. You may struggle at first but you’ll be chatting lingo with the locals in no time.

4. Network

Moving abroad is a great way to make new friends with open minded people from all over the world, as well as studying or working with new peers who can share different ideas to you.

5. Expats

Hello instant friends! Just like you, in most big cities there’s a big group of expats who’ve moved abroad and can’t wait to meet people to socialise with.

6. Memories

Moving abroad is an opportunity to make so many amazing memories of new places with new friends.

7. Home will wait

When you move abroad you will quickly see who your true friends are (cue 15 phone calls from mum a day). There may be some changes from time to time at home but when you come back to visit you will quickly notice that your life has changed beyond imagination and your same old friends drink at the same old bar every Friday and not much truly changes at home. Plus your friends can always visit.

8. Travel

When you move abroad so many new places are within easy reach. You can take mini holidays every weekend.

9. Food

So many new things to try, including the local cuisine. From finding new restaurants to exploring the nightlife, theme parks or walking trails (whatever floats your boat).

10. Why not!?

Some people may genuinely have commitments at home that they just can’t get out of but if you’re free to travel and live abroad, there’s no reason not to. Go for it! You won’t regret it!

How to Move Abroad

If you are considering moving abroad, the whole thought of picking your life up and relocating to a foreign land can be daunting. The whole process can be so overwhelming that it may leave you wondering – is it really worth it?

Rest assured that you are not the first Brit to leave the island and you definitely won’t be the last. There is a plethora of resources at your fingertips to help you at every step of the way. Put the kettle on, put your feet up and take things one step at a time.

Why the big move?

Let’s start simply by asking why you want to move abroad. What is your purpose? Whether it is work, study or just a lifestyle change, this is your primary purpose for the big move and therefore it is important to you. Take a moment to look beyond this and think about all the other wonderful opportunities that living abroad can bring. Discovering a new culture, mastering a foreign language, meeting new people, seeing new places and let’s not forget about all the exciting foreign food (and drinks) we can get our teeth into. Allow yourself to get excited and look forward to all the life-changing experiences coming your way.

Get organised

Now, let’s get organised. All those plans and thoughts and worries in your head, get them all down on paper. Compose a list of all the things you need to do such as employment arrangements, completing Visa paperwork, finding your accommodation, booking flights, and don’t forget to put a date in the diary for leaving drinks!

Connect with people

Now that you are organised, you can start to imagine what life might be like once you move. A great way to do this is to join groups on social media that can help you find friends abroad. Try looking up expats, Brits or English speakers in your new city. If you currently have any hobbies such as painting or yoga, you can sign up for classes once you move to connect with locals and make new friends. If you don’t have any hobbies, moving abroad is a great time to try something else. Alternatively there are a lot of expat meetup groups who often plan lunches and dinners that are usually incredibly welcoming and friendly events. Try out a few different groups to help you find your new buddies abroad.

If you are still feeling uneasy about your big move, make the most of your resources. If you know of anyone who has moved abroad, now might be a great time to connect with them and pick their brains. You can also sign up to WanderingBrits to be part of a community of wanderers just like you. On our website you will find tips, articles and food subscriptions to help you feel at home in your new city. We have a Facebook Group to chat about life abroad as well as a care package subscription service to stop you from missing home.

Take everything one step at a time

Once you have your list and some helpful contacts, consider each task in detail. Try to prioritise your tasks. It is vital at this point that you consider each task in isolation, rather than being overwhelmed by the wider process.

The most important task will probably be employment, closely followed by legal matters such as visas and health insurance. Most expats become slightly obsessive about securing accommodation, however in the age of budget hotels, home stays and spare room locating apps, this may be less urgent than you think.

Now might be a good time to consider what services you would like to use, e.g. do you need the help of a specialist relocation agency? Do you need a lawyer or a tax specialist? Online expat groups can be great at pointing you in the right direction with these questions.

After identifying your most important tasks, you can get the ball rolling by contacting the relevant people and authorities or services.

The last few weeks…

Once you start working your way through your to do list things can start to move very rapidly. You may get a sudden job offer or a placement that starts sooner than you think. Eventually everything will begin to fall into place and your vision of your new life abroad will start to look more realistic. It is important to note that us humans often have unrealistic expectations. Your dream of a mansion in the Hamptons may become more of a studio apartment in New York down the road from your company’s office, but the practicalities of it show that your dream is becoming more realistic.

Eventually your moving date will come around. Many people tend to move a week or two before they begin their new job or placement. The run up to this day may be full of stress with packing, storage, leaving parties and goodbyes, but the big day finally comes and everything becomes very very real.

If you don’t cry when you move abroad, you’ll definitely cry when you leave.

The arrival

Everyone’s experience is different but living abroad changes your perspective in a way that must be experienced to be fully understood. Arriving at your destination with a one-way ticket and no plans to leave is an exhilarating and terrifying feeling that can even become addictive to the more adventurous souls.

The first few days generally involve the admin of life such as registering with the local authorities, finding doctors and dentists, setting up bills, unpacking and getting set up in your new accommodation. Evenings and weekends will be filled with exploring the local area, finding your new favourite restaurants, discovering exciting places to hang out and making travel plans.

The weeks will fly by and they won’t always be easy. Sometimes it’s difficult feeling foreign or like you don’t belong. Eventually you’ll meet people who you connect with and help connect you to your new home.

Homecoming

Once it’s time to visit your old home you will realise that your whole world has changed. You will have a whole library of travel photos, stories and memories to share with your old friends and family but despite all their excitement and enthusiasm they will never truly understand the experience you have lived through. You’ll come to realise that there’s so much more out there than the life you left behind.