Bright lights, new city…finding your way

You have stepped off the plane, running around to try and find the perfect place to live in for you and your family, looking for schools, navigating your way around a new city, overcoming the language barrier and when all that is sorted and everyone is settled you take a deep breath and….and now what?

Perhaps by moving to your new country you left behind everything that made you…you. Your work, your friends, your favourite gym or cafes. You took a chance and followed your spouse to try and set up a new life elsewhere…except it’s just not the same. And neither will it be the same. And you know what? You can make this new experience how you want to make it.

It might be easy, or it might present challenges. What it is, it is your journey.

As a serial expat and having to find myself in a new country every couple of years, here are some ideas that I found helped me to settle in, and could help you find yourself a bit faster/better:

Take time to adjust

Do not feel like you have to be “settled” right away. It takes time. You might go through different emotions on different days and rather than say, “oh, I should appreciate what I have”, allow yourself to really feel those emotions. Acknowledge how you feel and that it is OK and normal to feel that way. Some days will be easier than others and know this  – as time goes on, it does get better.

It also helps if your partner understands this and doesn’t feel like they have to “fix” the situation (and they could get feelings of guilt knowing they put you in this situation). Just let them know you want them to listen and sympathise, nothing more.

Find your tribe

One of the first things to do when you land in a new country is to find your “tribe”. Find people who understand you – your culture, your situation, your struggles. Doing this and sharing the load, both emotionally and physically, with others in the same boat, allows you to navigate your new city better.  

Don’t be afraid to find, join and use specific groups on Facebook or MeetUp…then sign-up and go to events!

Do not feel like you have to go back to what you were doing before

Itching to get back into the same job as before? Used to earning your own money and now you rely on your spouse?

It’s hard. I left a high-paying corporate job to follow my husband and I found myself left with…a big to-do list of household chores. I look at that basket of laundry and it keeps piling and piling and piling. I know I SHOULD do it because I stay at home…but you know what? I let it sit for another day or two. Don’t feel guilty, it won’t harm anyone. Let it wait for another day and don’t stress (too much) about having to find a job straightaway because FIND YOURSELF FIRST. Reflect – was that corporate job back home really fulfilling? Did it motivate you deep within your soul and make you think – yes, this is my life’s path?

Think about what gives you joy. Find it in your new city, immerse yourself in it and who knows, maybe it will lead down a new career path.

Look forward to new experiences

I don’t know about you, but when I have something fun to look forward to (like a weekend getaway), it gets me excited and puts me in a better mood. So why not plan a few getaways or activities for yourself and/or your family? Take the chance to explore that amazing museum in your new city, be a “tourist” for a weekend with a staycation, or even exploring a neighbouring country. Researching, planning and then booking will definitely send endorphins to your brain and give you something to count down to.

Talk to someone

Sometimes as much as you try, it’s hard. It’s hard to settle in and accept your new city. And that’s OK. And sometimes when that happens, you need to talk to someone. Don’t be afraid to reach out to an expat association and look for a counsellor specialised in changing cultures and upheavals. They can help give you the tools you need to get on your feet and feel like you are moving towards a more positive place. Remember, you are NOT alone.

In addition to talking to a professional, perhaps try some holistic alternatives – aromatherapy, acupuncture, and even Reiki can give you renewed energy and a “feel good” boost.

And those are my top tips on trying to feel adjusted in this crazy new adventure you have embarked on. Remember, this does NOT happen overnight. It’s a journey and one which you can only take one step at a time. Take each day as it comes.

Perhaps try this: In the morning, write one thing which you feel will help you get through the day – is it to explore a new café? Sign-up for the gym you keep passing by? Just get out of bed? Whatever your goal, big or small, remember – you’ve got this.

What do you think? Does any of this resonate with you? What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below or message me! Also, are there specific topics you would like to read about?

Love and light,


*Cover photo by Skitterphoto on

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