As a child I begged my parents to let me go to boarding school in England, I had obviously read too many books and romanticised the entire idea, long story short they weren’t too keen.
I was lucky enough to be able to live at home while studying my undergraduate degree, in my final year I decided it was time to embark on that pipe dream of moving out and more importantly going to England.
At the time I didn’t know how much of a change I was in store for, so here are some real truths I wish I’d known about moving out and going abroad.
You will miss home.
This may not sink in for a couple of days or even weeks with the hecticness of the move but when everything settles – and it will eventually I promise – you might start to miss the comforts of home; having a full fridge, not being conscious of putting the heating on, things magically getting tidied and put away… but remember home is always there to go back and visit, and usually there’s always nice food too.
It’s okay to get upset.
I never realised just how much of a home-bird I was until one afternoon my dad called me, asked how everything was going and I started crying. Things had just piled up on me and that one question tipped me overboard. Oddly, no offence to my dad, but he wouldn’t usually be the one I would go to, it would be my mum as she’s a bit more of the “how do we fix this” rather than “what’s the problem, talk about it” type. I had hard nights where I just wanted to go home and cuddle with my dog, this had no reflection on my relationship either, I was just home sick and missed my family and friends. My relationship was probably the only reason I stuck it out those first few weeks and I am honestly so glad I did.
Making friends is hard.
Making friends is awkward at this age, luckily I had a masters I was starting and that classroom environment usually encourages friendships but when we moved to Australia I had nothing like that. Try to be as outgoing as possible, if you meet someone randomly suggest going out for a coffee – yes it’s awkward as hell but what’s the worst they can say? No? Okay then, bye, never see you again! Join local groups depending on whatever hobbies you have, swimming? Gymming? Photography? Writing? Reading? Blogging? Social media is great and finding like-minded people on platforms like Twitter can be super handy too!
Budgeting is your new best friend.
Make a budget. At the start. Not five months down the line. Allow it some flexibility though as you don’t know what initial costs might crop up, but try to stick to the amount you allot to food/socialising/cinema etc per week/month. As much as I love grabbing a coffee in town, is it really worth the £4/£5 that could be spent on something useful? And if you do that once a week that could be £15-£20 a month on something you can easily make at home.
You’ll find your mindset changes slightly too, you start looking to the on sale items in the shop first or compare everything relatively, “£30 on a dress? But that’s my phone bill for a month!” Did I mention being an adult is fun?
Have a reserve of money “just in case.”
As said, you never know what costs are gonna crop up when moving. Installation fees for the internet/tv. Buying a whole set of cleaning products. Realising you have absolutely no spices in the cupboard.
It’s always good to have this money just in case and on the bright side, if you’re super organised and it’s not needed down the line this can change to “treat yourself” money!
Explore the city as if you’re on holiday.
Get to know the place you’re moving to, do the touristy things, go on that big red sightseeing bus, visit the museums, shopping strips, parks and other attractions. You’ve moved there for a reason, avoid looking at your phone for a map, get lost a couple of times! This is how we discover our favourite cafes/bars/vintage stores.
Use your time off to visit neighbouring towns/cities.
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point, in my first year away from home I worked completely opposite hours to my other half and consequently had barely left the city we’d moved to. That’s just no fun at all, when in Australia most weekends we went somewhere or did something and in those couple of months I felt I’d seen more of Australia than I had the UK. You might also end up falling in love with another city and find your next potential home!
Securing a job.
This might be the reason you’re moving in the first place and if so, lucky you! For those of us who aren’t so fortunate this can be a tricky one – depending on how fussy you are. I worked behind a bar for the best part of a year and a half and it was great, it was flexible and the people I worked with were wonderful. I then moved onto temping when I got back from Australia and met some great people in those jobs too, and made genuine friends! Don’t be too picky about your first job, just get something to bring the money in, keep applying for other jobs and if it really sucks six months later, regroup.
All the legal stuff.
For some places you need to have this sorted before getting there, use the internet and do some research! In the UK you can do little in advance without an National Insurance number, which you can’t get before you have an address so it works all on a rolling basis. Find a house, get an NI number, find a job… etc. But make sure you know what’s happening in advance with visas/right to work and such.
Try not to spend all extra cash on going home.
I made this mistake. Don’t do it. You miss home. Fair enough. You want cuddles from your dog. I did too. But hey, you know what? They can come visit you too!
Encourage people to come visit you.
You will get a lot of people claiming they will come visit you, and heck they might be genuine at the time, but at least two-thirds of those people won’t actually follow through with it. Your parents will probably give it a little while to let you settle, but one of my best friends was over within three months of me moving and it was the nicest thing to have her there and though it was only a couple of days it’s something I won’t ever forget her doing.
If you tell a friend you’re going to go visit them – actually make the effort to do it. Bug the hell out of them about finding a date, it will mean a lot more to them than you realise.
This is a tricky one. Finding a home is one of the most frustrating things to do and that includes in a city you know, try make this easier for yourself. I don’t recommend securing a place before viewing (like I did), get in contact with letting agents in advance and set up some viewing appointments. Search groups on Facebook for house sharing (this is what I did for Australia) and if there are any options available to you there.
If you’re moving with a partner this option might not seem as attractive, but when you consider the cost benefits that all changes. House sharing is a good way of meeting people who already know the place too, they may not become your best friends but at the very least they will know what takeaway is the best in the area!
Keeping in contact.
Weekly/monthly/regular contact with family/friends can be a comfort blanket but don’t rely on them.
Every Wednesday I get a call from my dad for a weekly catch up. That may seem a lot but it is so lovely and having something stable like that can be such a comfort. I Skype certain friends at least once a month, some every two and keep up to date with others on Facebook regularly. Don’t lose your old friends, your friendship might change but don’t forget about them. That being said, don’t rely on your friends and family back home for all your socialising. Get out there and make some friends in the area you live too!
Have you faced any other challenges in moving out or abroad? What are the tricks you’ve used to overcome them?