Living Abroad: What to Do Before Your Big Move to Southeast Asia

You’ve always been interested in Southeast Asia, and who wouldn’t? The place is overflowing with art and culture, the food is divine, the people are friendly, and the most beautiful natural wonders of the world are only a drive away. Now that you have decided that you are moving, here are some things to keep in mind.

Do Your Research

Do what you can to find out everything about the country you are interested in. Speak with acquaintances who have moved there permanently or who have experienced living there in the past. Read about the experiences of foreigners like yourself online so you can have an idea of what your life will be like once you are there.If you have kids, you would want to look at International Baccalaureate or IB programs in the Philippines, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Rent, Do Not Buy

Do not get too hasty about acquiring a property to live in. At least for your first year in a new country, rent a houseor apartment. You would not want to be stuck in a neighborhood that does not suit your lifestyle or needs.

By renting, you can have a feel of the place before you permanently move there. Do not just trust what a brochure or your real estate agent says because no one advertises the negative stuff. If something bothers you, it would be easier to move out somewhere else when you are renting.

It is also wise not to rent before you get there. Of course, you would want to guarantee that you have a place where you can sleep when you land. By renting online, you would not only be paying premium prices, but you will also not be able to inspect the property. Sometimes, pictures do not completely reflect the real state of the place. Maybe it was not as big and well-kept as you thought it would be or not as close to the beach as the listing led you to believe.

Get an Airbnb or hotel where you can settle for a few weeks or months while you look for a home. Drive around to get a feel of the neighborhood you are eyeing. Look online for places to rent and visit the property multiple times and at different times of the day.

Learning the Local Language Isn’t Necessary

Fortunately, a majority of people in Asia speak English. While it will be beneficial for you to learn the local language, do not be too worried about becoming fluent early on. You can easily get around, order food, and shop without using or knowing the local language.

Build Local Connections

Even before you touchdown, set up a network of acquaintances who reside where you want to move. Contact them and set a face-to-face meeting.It will also help if you joined expat forums for you to make new connections. Aside from getting helpful tips, there may be local events and gatherings where you can get to know fellow expats better. Not only will you have new friends with whom you can share your experiences, but you will also minimize “culture shock” and make the place feel a little more like home. You also will have people who may help you out when you get in trouble.

Moving to a new country will be the beginning of a new adventure. Things will be different at first and it will be difficult to adjust to the changes, but know that you eventually will figure things out and be able to live like a local.

-Jack

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