In today’s world we have unparalleled opportunities as both a mobile workforce and to choose where we live once we are done with the world of work. A surprisingly large number of us choose to relocate abroad for a number of reasons. It may be work, retirement to a sunnier clime, cheaper standard of living or just an all-round better quality of life. A BBC news article around UK expats estimated that there were about 5.5 million UK citizens living permanently abroad. Considering the population is only of the order of 70 million this is a sizeable percentage by any measure.
Looking at the breakdown the top 2 destinations in order were Australia and the more easily accessible Spain. Between them these two countries accounted for something like 40% of the total numbers. Again, showing the allure of both.
It is all very well to dream about the good life on the Costa Blanca but often people disregard the realities of moving. Your experience can be made so much better by doing some simple pre-preparation and bearing in mind a few key pointers when you arrive in your new country.
To get some expert insights we asked Mark Suarez from Javea News what his thoughts on the matter were. “There are two parts to what you need to be aware of. What you do before you get here so you know what to expect, how to fit in and how to get things organised. You also really need to make sure that when you get here you are able to fit into the community and one of the best ways to do that is to have your finger on the pulse of what is going on, that’s why we focus on making sure we have local news and events. You really don’t want to miss out on everything you can tap into here.”
He has a very good point. We would go further and say that as well as ensuring you keep up with local publications, channels, news and noticeboards you really want to tap into the ready made network of local expertise. Befriend the taxi drivers, waiters, delivery drivers, sports coaches. All those people who really do know the best places to eat, where to book a court and when you are likely to find a good opponent to play. The kinds of people who can connect you with the real life you are moving into.
Use the same communications technology the locals do. You are a local now yourself. Is it more common to make appointments via WhatsApp for example? Are Facebook groups where everyone who is anyone arranges events? Or is it more old school and announcements in the local paper catch the eye?
Learn to accept the differences and embrace them. Celebrate and enjoy the things that are easier and better than you are used to and accept that some things may feel harder especially initially.
An obvious one is trying to learn the language if it differs from your mother tongue.
As a final point expect to suffer from homesickness from time to time in the beginning. Be prepared for it and have ready some mood adjustment activities that will help you get over it. Above all engage fully in your new life, enjoy it and have a happy future.