There are many challenges with relocating, with some challenges rating higher on the stress scale than others. Once the logistics of the move are over and you are no longer stepping over boxes or searching for teaspoons, settling in is the next hurdle.
By settling we don’t just mean sorting out your new home, but how do you make your new environment ‘feel’ like home?
It can be daunting with family and friends no longer near at hand. The ‘euphoria’ of arriving safely with your belongings is quickly overtaken by the realization ‘that’s it, I’m here, what now?’
The settling in period can be quite different for those who have relocated for work and for those who have accompanied their partners. Your new work environment is your new routine and you tend to hit the ground running.
Many companies offer support and programs to assist with settling in. These are really worthwhile participating in, especially if language or cultural differences are a challenge with the new job.
Social or sports clubs attached to your company are a great way to meet people initially. Meeting up with people who have the same interests will broaden your social circle, while you slowly build your own network. If you have relocated overseas, seek out expat groups to join.
Expats have already done what you’re doing and can be a wealth of information and may even prevent you from making mistakes due to your inexperience. Remember this is not about trying to etch out a piece of home in a foreign land it’s about finding a support system to help, in what can be for some, a lonely settling in period.
Don’t neglect opportunities to form friendships within your local community too, it’s the best way to assimilate and feel part of your new environment. If on the other hand, you are relocating because of your spouse or partners job, it presents with its own kind of challenges.
You may not be able to work, due to visa restrictions, unrecognized qualifications or having young children. You may find yourself somewhat isolated, in the initial phase, while your partner’s days are full and busy with their new job.
You may be waiting for them to return home from work ready to hear all their news only to be met by an exhausted partner, whose day has been full of learning new systems, meeting new colleagues, navigating new roads or transport systems, and all in another language.
You, on the other hand, may not have spoken to another adult all day! It can put a strain on the relationship.
It’s important for both parties to see what challenges the other is facing. Good communication is key to understanding and acknowledging what the other is going through.
For it to be a success, both parties need to feel supported and listened to, while navigating their new life. It is not uncommon for a couple or family to return home because they were not prepared for the possible struggle of the early months.
It can be a painful learning curve to know that it needs to work for both, for it to work at all.