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Updated 20 Sep 2018

Moving abroad is an experience that is both exciting and daunting in equal measure. The act of uprooting your entire life and all of its cultural, social and work contexts, and placing it in another country can be very difficult. But, the quicker you find your feet, the more likely you are to make a success out of your expat lifestyle. Below, the Lanzarote villa specialists at Optima Villas give some top tips regarding finding your feet in foreign climes.

1. Conquer the language barrier

This is the first thing you should do, and it is absolutely the most important. You’ll feel very isolated in a foreign country if you are unable to speak, or at least partially understand, the language – especially if it’s a country which doesn’t share the Latin alphabet. If you arrive in your new country with a patchy knowledge of the language, don’t worry – this is a natural stage to go through. Just make sure you’re regularly interacting with people using their language and maybe think about going to language meet-up groups to really polish up your second language skills. 

2. Throw yourself into social situations

Making friends is one of the biggest issues facing people who have recently moved to a foreign nation, especially if they’re doing so alone. Luckily, websites and apps like Meetup can make it easy to engage with and arrange to meet like-minded people. From food groups to fitness clubs and beyond, there are Meetup groups all across the world. 

More traditional networks of expats are also prevalent across the world, as fellow countrymen and women tend to coalesce into groups – depending on the size of the town or city you move to, it might be very easy to find fellow expats. Just make sure you’re not spending all your free time with them, as your local language skills may suffer as a result.

3. Rent before you buy

Buying a property abroad is a difficult process, especially when it means packing up and selling your current home. This is why renting first, or even going on a research-focused holiday is very important, as there could be cultural aspects to your chosen country that might take some time to adjust to. This way, you can also take some time to decide what area of your new city you'd prefer to settle down in.

4. Move away from the tourist mentality (but not completely)

Expat life might seem like one long holiday, but unless you’re lucky enough to be retiring, your working life is moving abroad with you. This means being a functioning professional in whatever workplace you’re moving into, while also retaining your sense of adventure that your new exotic surroundings will bring. It’s good for your social and mental wellbeing to always be on the lookout for a new experience or a new adventure – allowing you to improve your knowledge of your new surroundings.

Finding your feet is difficult – there’s no disputing that. But with these tips and an open-minded attitude to making friends and launching yourself into new experiences, you’re sure to ease into expat life with no trouble at all!

Nick Ball Our Expat Expert

Nick Ball is Marketing Manager at Optima Villas and has lived on the island of Lanzarote since 2001.

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