Monday, May 25, 2009

Top 10 points to remember for smooth settling into new country

  1. Keep an open and positive frame of mind – It is extremely easy to get hassled by everything in a new country. As someone said – it is your attitude that can change the way you feel – so it helps to be positive and open to a different way of working. Eg. The way cars are drive - left hand to right hand drive, switch on/off mechanism
  2. Try to follow a sequence in your checklist – It is better to follow a sequence when trying to settle in. eg. First seek school admission and then accordingly take a house close to school if that’s what you want. Then go for internet and TV connection since that is dependant upon the house. So it helps to give multi tasking and parallel processing a miss for once!
  3. Be specific in your requirements especially if you are using an agent – In looking for a house, be sure to give written specific requirements on what you want – house or apartment, number of rooms, number of bathrooms, locality/area, size of house, budget etc. Identify must-have’s and nice-to-haves. Be sure to look at the shortlist that an agent will take you around to show especially if they charge by number of hours spent.
  4. Read the fine print in a contract – It may be an obvious thing you say, but it is a necessary must-do. In the house contract, ensure that inventory of what fitments are included and in what condition should be explicitly stated. Be sure to do a thorough house inspection before moving in. In the car lease contract, follow same rules and look at clause regarding insurance, repair etc.
  5. Be aware of the legal/statutory requirements of residing as a foreigner – Each country has it’s own set of rules, regulations and statutory requirements for people who reside in it. Eg. If you need to register at the commune within 3 days of arrival, be aware of what you need while registration before you land there.
  6. Get to know the city transport – Use weekends to go around the city and get familiar with the roads, bus/train routes. This will ensure that you will not get lost easily! Practice a trip to your office, children’s school etc. before you need to actually be there so that you can estimate the time and route to get there.
  7. Learn the language as much as you can – Try to spend time getting to know the language a bit, atleast the terms needed often to greet people you meet, buy basic necessities etc. The best way to “fit” into the country is to speak the language, so take your shot at it!
  8. Observe and act – There is a vast difference in cultures across the world. If possible, try to research and read about the culture and people of the country you have moved into beforehand. Whether you have been able to read or not, nothing can compare to practical experience – observe and act. Watch the people around you everywhere you go and you will get to know the people and culture better.
  9. Stay in touch with friends and family – With lots of new experiences you get everyday, it helps to assimilate if you stay in touch with your folks back home. They will give you moral support to live through the change and keep yourself grounded.
  10. Think alternative plans always – Although we all want to live in an idealistic world, reality is quite different. So, it helps to always have a Plan B in case Plan A does not work. Eg. In case the house you shortlisted and were about to sign the contract does not materialize, keep an alternative in mind. If the school where you wanted to put your child does not work out, have the details of other comparable ones.

Whether you were keen to make the move or circumstances made you decide to make a new country home, the experience will not be a complete bed of roses. Unexpected things will crop up and continuity plans will have to come to the rescue. To make it smoother to start the daily chores and live day on day, it needs a lot of patience and positive attitude. Give it a shot - happy settling!

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