How to make moving abroad a good experience

Moving abroad to a new city can be daunting, however many times you do it. Apart from the physical shifting process, the emotional upheaval can also be difficult. I have lived in 5 countries in 10 years, (and counting), and have picked up on a few tips for a comfortable transition.

1. Start packing early

It is difficult to imagine how many things you may have accumulated during the years. As a result, it’s always a good idea to start sorting out your belongings early. Create a list of the items you most need in your suitcase. The essentials. Secondly, create a list of things that will be shipped over to your new life. Finally, a pile of your things that will be discarded. Leaving things behind can be painful. Our personal collections during the years remind us of great times and bad times. I know. As painful as that may be, our memories are our best friends and will remind us of those moments. Whether you donate them or sell them, they must go.

Making your suitcase to go abroad

2. Learn a little bit about the city in advance

While it may be charming to discover a city when you arrive, some background preparation can only help. With an internet connection, you can get information in seconds on the customs, traditions and holidays of that region. Some practical information such as visa requirements (if at all), weather conditions, prices and crime are just a few things to think about. One of the best ways to get more insight into your new home can be to connect to an online forum or groups such as Facebook, Meetup and Internations. You can get a lot of information by reading and interacting with the online community.

Learning about the city

3. Finding accommodation

To me, one of the most challenging aspects of moving abroad is to find accommodation. Everything needs to be considered including the size, price, location, safety, accessibility and more. These challenges are applicable across the board, whether for working professionals or students. A good website to consider is Uniplaces that helps individuals find accommodation easier. With a growing population and less space to accommodate people, Uniplaces recommend places according to individuals’ requirements. They are always updating their Instagram with new offers and tips about living abroad.  

Find accommodation


4. Figure out how to move around the city – transport

There are now a host of ways to move around a city, whether car, train, bicycle, metro or just the old-fashioned way of walking! I do not drive and rely on public transportation to get around the city. This was true whether I was in Greece, India, United Kingdom, Singapore or now Portugal. Understanding the roads and transport network is a form of independence.

The metro

5. Find your comfort – home away from home

While moving to a new city can be exciting, getting cravings of your old life is natural. The familiarity of old friends, habits, spices and more can be very strong. For that reason, I find it useful to research and get in touch with some places that would relate to your identity. I have recently moved near Porto and so far, it has been a wonderful experience. Despite that, I do miss Asia, Greece and the United Kingdom but I get comfort in food! With new restaurants popping up around the city, I am always close to home with food that I know and miss in each city I lived before.

Comfort food

While exploring the world can be a great experience, whether to a small town, city, region or country, it’s always good to do your homework! 

Author: Aparna Menon

Aparna is a SPEAK Buddy. She loves teaching, writing and meeting new people. She spends her free time watching movies, swimming and exploring new places.

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