Insights and Wisdom from Women Who have Relocated Abroad

What are some things you wish you knew or someone told you before moving abroad?

Relocating to a new country is an exhilarating adventure, one that promises personal growth, new experiences, and a fresh start. However, it’s not without its challenges. 

For many, once the honeymoon phase is over, and reality sets in, that’s when it gets hard.

I was an accidental expat. I never planned to stay in the US after my film crash course in New York. So I didn’t do any homework or research on what I needed to know before relocating to a new country.

For me the biggest challenge was dealing with loneliness. And with my conversations with many expats, this is what they experience too. 

Besides loneliness, here are tips, experiences and insights from some women about relocating to another country:

Live there as if you’ll never leave, even if you’ll only stay a few months (or: invest in friendships, dive head first into the culture, get into a routine).” – Vivieke (Evi) Plamaar

I didn’t keep my paperwork up to date in my home country and its just difficult when I go back. So even if you plan to be away for a long time keep your driver’s license etc up to date.” – Natasha Frost

“Remember you are a guest. Never disparage your host.If you are inclined to say things like, “Well back home we don’t do xy or z..” or “xy or z is so much better back home, you should return.

I spent close to 20 years in our last country and about 1/2 way through those years I got so out of sorts (depressed even) over the constant moving, I decided I wouldn’t make the ‘’Mistake’ of bothering with getting to know people only there for a short assignment. I’m so glad I got over my discrimination as I made the greatest friends who are now sprinkled all over the world and can visit them in amazing places. I also live in a fairly popular attraction area and they also come to visit me.” – Mamie Stroud

“Bring your favorite holiday candies. Your life won’t be the same when you return to your country. Returning won’t feel good.”– Maddy Horn

“Stay being yourself and discovering how powerful that is. Stay developing what you love doing and believing you will be a master of it without noticing. Do not work just anywhere, know your value and never ever let yourself work over your physical possibilities!” – Ileau Maitri

“That it takes time to establish yourself and after the initial excitement wears off there is a period of adjustment that can be frustrating and in my experience I had to really learn to put myself out there socially, join meetups, activities and stuff if I wanted to make friends” Andrea Hunt

“Try to be a minimalist and live with as few belongings as possible. It’s a big challenge to pack and carry stuff in international travel and we can easily avoid collecting so much stuff if we make a conscious effort to do so”– Sukrti Bansal

“It’s such a hard question to answer as there are many many things that you consider and reconsider when moving abroad. Apart from that, needs change with age and when growing a family priorities shift. You have to be prepared to make a real conscious effort to feel at home.” – Saar Lenaerts- Williams

“I didn’t keep my paperwork up to date in my home country and its just difficult when I go back. So even if you plan to be away for a long time keep your driver’s license etc up to date” – Natasha Frost

Getting your finances and bank accounts sorted so that once you finalize on a place to stay you pay the right amount without much international exchanges, carry your own medicines in good supply, speak to all your friends and understand the basic areas for good stay.” – Sarmistha Chatterjee

“Visit the place first to get a feel of it, before deciding to fully commit to the move” – Ida Ra

“Making new and meaningful friendships takes time. Keep an open mind.Prep is important but doesn’t guarantee a smooth transition.Each person’s experience might be similar but never the same so don’t get jaded by other’s experiences. Something new is not bad or good, it’s just new.“- Sneha Venkatraman

I will end with my tip on how to deal with loneliness and making new friends.

Even before you move, find online groups on social media platforms like Facebook  for expats in the country you are moving to or even a network of global expats, connect with people on LinkedIn who live there and share similar interests or work in similar fields. And once you get there seek out opportunities to meet people who share your interests, both fellow expats and locals. Attend community events, join clubs, or use social media groups to connect with others in your area. Having a support network can provide a sense of belonging and help you through the tough moments.

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Nyna is the Founder and CEO of The Expat Woman, a global platform focused on connecting, supporting and empowering women who have moved abroad or plan to relocate. She is also a LinkedIn coach, consultant, trainer and speaker. LinkedIn played a huge role in my professional journey abroad, helping me build a network of powerful expat women and allies.

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