Moving Abroad - Landing in Paradise

Puente Del Este, Uruguay Many potential expats approach migration to a new land much as they would approach a relocation in their home country. That could be a very frustrating approach, especially in developing countries.

If you can read the alphabet you have an advantage. If you can speak the language, you have an even bigger one. Chances are that most expats will not speak the language.

You will probably fly to your new potential homeland and arrive at a major city, possibly the capitol. This is where you need to start making decisions.

Cultural Crash Course

Your first urge may be to rent a ride and charge off into the countryside looking for the perfect location. That is a very common approach for new expats, but it may be a flawed approach.

  • Do you speak the language?
  • Do you know the local customs?
  • Can you easily navigate the countryside?

Unless you plan to live in a tourist area, consider the following approach.

Find an Apartment

First, go shopping for a strong and pick-resistant padlock. Hotels and guest houses are comfy and convenient, but most are in tourist neighborhoods for a reason. Consider shopping for a secure serviced apartment. A serviced apartment will be easier on your budget and will give you a mini-course in handling necessities.

Remember the padlock you bought? Use it to secure your new serviced apartment. Apartments are a good place to park your baggage and yourself between excursions. If you have a comfortable place, it's easier to be patient when looking for a more permanent place to live.

Shop for your essentials like soap, towels, etc. in the shops nearby. It will be your first contact with the locals. Stroll the neighborhood and observe. Stop and have coffee or tea at a cafe. Order a light meal. Chances are, you will suddenly become more receptive to the next suggestion

Enroll in a Language Course

Okay, if you already speak the language you can skip this step, but most expats won't already be able to communicate.

Take classes for a few hours each day then have a leisurely lunch. Practice your newly acquired language skill anywhere you get a chance. You may be surprised at how helpful people will be. And they will appreciate your attempts at learning their language.

Be ready to laugh at yourself. You will make mistakes -- some can be extremely embarrassing.

After a few weeks you will have overcome your jet-lag, learned a few important phrases, know some taboos, and be itching for a trip to the mountains or the seashore.

So it's time to take a tour.