Top 10 ways to cope with the transition to a new life abroad














There is no doubt that moving to live and work abroad can be challenging and stressful, learning to work in a new language and different culture can add new dimensions to how you operate in all areas of your life. And then of course there is settling into your new home and surroundings not to mention helping your family to settle into their new schools, lives and routines.


How can you cope with the transition in the best way possible? Consider the following.

  1. Take an honest look at yourself. What are your strengths and skills? How can you use these to influence positively the transition to your new life abroad?
  2. Take time to look after yourself. Major changes like a move abroad are physically and emotionally taxing. You need to ensure that you have time to relax, unwind and recharge your batteries.
  3. Be curious. Be curious about your new environment, get out and explore (providing it is safe to do so of course!) Also be curious about your personal reaction to your new life. Think about your work and your home life. Where and when do you feel comfortable, where and when do you not? Why do you think this is?
  4. Focus on what you want, and less on what you don't want. When we are facing a lot of change and needing to adapt to a new environment and way of being, it can be easy to find ourselves focusing on what we don’t like or feel threatened by. When you catch yourself doing this try to turn your focus to what you do want to see and experience. Also think about your personal goals, at home and at work. If you are not clear about your goals then take some time out to think about what they may be.
  5. Find support. If you are working then ask yourself if there is anyone who could act as your mentor, guiding you in terms of office politics and how things work. They could also act as your cultural guide giving you advice into how you should and shouldn't behave and helping to explain the reason for any difficulties you may be having. If you cannot find a mentor think about employing a coach, someone who understands the issues of living and working abroad and who can help you to identify your issues and challenges and find ways to overcome them. If you are the expat partner and not working, look for clubs and expat groups that you can join. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help and tips. Expats “get” the challenges and are generally hugely supportive and informative.
  6. Work on your thoughts. We don't have to be controlled by our thoughts, calm your fears and reinforce your sense of hope and happiness.
  7. Reassure. There will be difficult times but hopefully you know the reasons for making the transition and that they were sound and rational ones. Focus on the positives and reassure yourself during the difficult times that you will win through and find success and happiness abroad.
  8. Celebrate your successes. When things go well, when you have a good day at work or at home and start to feel that you are making progress take time out to celebrate, even the little things, this helps to build confidence and a positive state of mind.
  9. Let go of how things were ‘supposed to be' and accept ‘how things are'. There is one certainty in expat life and that is that your expectations will not always be right.
  10. Keep things in perspective. Or try a new perspective. Don't feel that there is only one way. Remember, the only constant is change.


Successful expats know that living abroad is a huge opportunity for career, personal growth, and adventure. At Thriving Abroad we help you to overcome expat challenges and create expat lives that you love. Come and join our Thriving Abroad community and sign up for engaging expat related content in our regular newsletters.