How To Become An Expat (Minus the Heart Palpitations)

So you’ve decided to take the plunge and move to the other side of the world. Whether it be for adventure, a work opportunity, curiosity or to mend a broken heart, you’ve decided to up and move your life away from friends and family and the little bubble you’ve created for yourself.

For me this wasn’t a choice taken lightly, but it was an easy choice to make. Always one to complain about my current situation and dream about a ‘one day’ when I would escape my mundane Brisbane, Australia life, I finally decided I would never have ‘enough’ money but to book the plane ticket anyway.

After getting through the visa process I had three months to prepare myself for the oncoming adventure of trying my luck living in London for two years. Here are eight things to do to reduce the (ever impending, and imminent) stress before you hop on that 24-hour flight:

  1. Decide on a Departure Date

An obvious one, however once this is decided, stick to it. Having a definite departure date either in your head or on your printed e-ticket makes your move a lot more real for yourself and your family. This will also make it easier for your friends and family to come to terms with your leaving and appreciate the time they have left with you – however you will only be a plane ticket away!

  1. Quit Your Job

Quitting your job can be a stressful but also freeing act. I happened to have to quit my job in Brisbane at the same time as two other staff members at an extremely busy time in the company, which did not make for an easy few months before my final work day. However, always remember the reason you chose to leave, and that choosing your wants over those of your boss does not make you selfish. Each of us will inevitably do what betters ourselves or our career in the long run. If you feel this is something you need to do, then nothing should stand in your way (and let’s face it, its just WORK).

  1. Organise Your Visa

Ensure you research the visa process for the country you are entering and make sure you are choosing the right visa for your circumstances. I recommend talking to any friends or friends of friends that have been in the same situation as you to get a first hand account on the ins and outs. From my own experience – make sure you don’t organise the visa too early, an Australian can only organise a Tier 5 Youth Mobility Visa three months from the departure date. I was too eager and ended up having to leave three months earlier than originally planned – which secretly ended up being a blessing in disguise!

  1. Cancel Payments

Something that can take time to organise that may also be left to the last minute is cancelling payments from your home city. If you are selling your car, ensure you cancel your insurance payment (also you may receive some unexpected money back which may help!). Gym memberships, phone bill, power bill and rent payments (if currently living out of home) all need to be cancelled prior to departure to ensure you don’t end up spending more than required.

  1. Organise Living Arrangements

Organise where you’re going to stay, at least for the first few weeks after you land. This will help to relieve stress and you will be so thankful after a long haul flight for a bed for a few nights.

  1. Change Your Address

Before you leave ensure you redirect your mail and change your address either to your new address overseas or to a trusted family members address.

  1. Appreciate Your Home Country

It sounds like an odd thing to do since you’re leaving, but really appreciating your city and the differences between your home country and the country you’re headed to is important in the long run. Whether you like it or not your home town will always be your home town and although you might not believe it now, in a few months when you’re struggling to find a job, or miss your parents, or you’re freezing, dreaming of Australian sunshine, you will regret not taking the time to embrace what your home city has to offer.

  1. Say Goodbye

I hate goodbyes and always will. Will I cry? What if they cry? What if I don’t cry and they do and they get hurt that I don’t cry?? I decided to have a goodbye drinks at a local bar and invite most of my friends and family a week before leaving. I said goodbye to friends that night with a casual “I might see you next week!”. If you do see them in the following week you can have a heart felt goodbye alone, if not – you dodged a bullet!

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