After moving to Italy as an expat not one, but three times, I learned some tricks about living abroad and how best to go about it. Living abroad is never an easy thing, but when you know some certain tips the whole process can go a lot more smoothly. Here are some things that I learned while heading back over to Italy and what I probably do when I move to Barcelona in a few months.
Look for an apartment before you go.
Although you won’t know whether it is something you want to take once you get to your new home, a few weeks before you journey to your chosen destination, you’ll want to take a look online and contact some potential landlords or brokers for an apartment. Though you should be prepared to stay in a hotel or hostel for a few nights, having the security of an apartment or two lined up can make the whole process a lot easier on you once you get there.
Get a cellphone plan.
The first time I lived in Italy, I got a tiny little flip phone that could text and receive from Italian numbers—that was long before data was even a thing. However, this last time I lived in Lucca, I splurged and spent 40 euro a month in order to use a basic package on my iPhone. I had text, phone, and data that I could use in order to keep in touch with people I loved back home. Although it only offered 2 GB a month (which surprisingly you will go through while looking up information on your phone and contacting others), it was enough to get me by when I was disconnected to WiFi. It’s also imperative when you are first moving and you need to be in touch with potential apartment owners.
Make sure your bank situation is set.
I remember when I was first moving to Florence and I had called my bank to let them know that I would be out of the country for a while. I have two accounts, one for business and one personal. I arrived in Florence and went to use the ATM and…nothing. I started panicking, unsure about how I could contact my bank and how I could verify that it was me using my card all the way over there. After a second thought, I inserted a my other card and bingo. They had unlocked my business account and not my personal.
Eventually I was able to call them and let them know, but it just goes to show how scary it can be to feel like you have no funds in a foreign country. Before you go, you’ll want to call your bank and explain your situation. Some require you to talk to a manager if you are planning on staying longer than three or four months. I would highly recommend installing an app like Viber so even when you don’t have WiFi on your phone, you can call your bank or doctor in case of emergency.
Take a deep breath.
Moving abroad is a huge undertaking, and it can be extremely stressful. Sometimes it can even take the fun and excitement out of being in a new place. The best thing to do is to simply take a deep breath and relax. Everything will work out—even the more dire situations are usually pretty repairable. Just be prepared as much as you can before you go and face the challenges you meet there head on.
Have you ever moved abroad before? What was your experience like?