Relocating overseas can be exhilarating. You're living somewhere new, you might have been promoted at work or just retired, and you can explore and try new things.
At the same time, it might take you a while to adapt to your new surroundings. This is commonly known as culture shock.
One of the best ways to deal with this, get comfortable with your new surroundings, and meet people with whom you share things in common is to find fellow expats in your new location.
Let’s explore six ways you can do this.
1. At work
If your job has led you to relocate overseas, particularly to a popular expat destination, then there’s a good chance there’ll be other expats from your home country in your workplace.
Companies with comprehensive relocation programs might even have a buddy system or something similar to help you feel at home after your move, so you could find yourself introduced to someone right away. If overseas relocations are common in your company, you might be fortunate enough to find someone you already know and have worked with before!
While finding expats with whom you can connect and socialise at work is pretty straightforward, try to find something you have in common and can do together outside of work.
Your job might have been the reason for your move, but don't let it get in the way of experiencing all the incredible things your new destination has to offer. You're more than your job!
2. At the school gates
Along with ensuring you have a suitable international health insurance plan, making sure any children who are moving with you have a great school to go to will be top of your pre-move priority list.
Depending on where you’re from and your new destination, you might send your children to an international or local school. This will be where they’ll likely make most of their friends, and it’s an opportunity for you, too!
Take the opportunity to talk to people when you drop off and pick up your children from school. Introducing yourself to your children's friends' parents is an easy way to do this.
Not only is this a great way to meet fellow expats, but you might also find yourself meeting locals or people of other nationalities.
3. Around your neighbourhood
Deciding where to live is another vital consideration when planning your move.
Many people choose to move to neighbourhoods popular with fellow expats, which also happen to be close to international schools and other facilities. If you're moving alone, your employer will likely be able to recommend locations, and if you choose to live in an apartment block, many of these have communal areas and facilities where you might meet fellow expats.
Regardless of where you live, don't be shy about getting out and around your neighbourhood to make social connections.
4. Use traditional social media
You'll likely use social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram to keep your family and friends informed about your new adventure overseas, but these can also be useful for finding fellow expats.
A simple search of “<your new location> <your nationality> expat groups” on Facebook will usually deliver various groups that you can join. And if there isn’t a group, start one and become the person who transformed the life of expats from your country in your new location!
Similarly, search for expat-related hashtags on Instagram, Twitter, and even LinkedIn and TikTok, and you'll likely find people from your home country nearby. Give them a follow or a quick DM, and you could quickly find yourself building new social connections.
5. Look for cultural quarters
Many of the world's major cities have entire streets or blocks dedicated to restaurants and bars from specific locations. Indeed, many expats move overseas for one job and later open such a location to attract their fellow nationals.
Even if you're not moving to a major capital, smaller cities and towns increasingly have various places catering to different nationalities. Find the places built to be like your home country, and the chances are you'll encounter fellow expats, too.
6. Carry on or start a new hobby
Moving overseas shouldn't mean you give up your hobbies – unless you love doing something particular that you cannot do in your new location. But moving abroad is also an excellent opportunity to try new things.
Whether continuing an existing hobby or picking up a new one, these are ideal ways to meet fellow expats and discover and build friendships in general.