There really is no place like home. However, the global nature of modern life means that we may find ourselves moving thousands of miles away - across countries, continents, and oceans - to start a new life.
While it may be difficult to fully recreate the feeling of home when you move abroad, there are often plenty of ways to remind yourself of home, whether that be through the food you eat, the things you do, or the people you interact with. Finding ways to feel more comfortable and "˜at home' in your new country can help you settle in more easily.
Moving to the United Kingdom
The UK consists of four unique nations: England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Each country has its own quirks and local customs which can vary from town to town and city to city. However, the UK as a whole is a culturally rich country and is now home to people from all over the world.
Settle quicker when you move to the UK by following our handy guide.
Learn About Life in the UK
Prepare for your move to the UK by spending some time studying the country. If you know a little about the history, climate, and culture, you'll find it easier to hit the ground running when you arrive. Both non-fiction and, perhaps surprisingly, fiction books, can help give you an idea about life in the UK. One great starting point is this list by the Book Bag website.
You can also read our expat guide for moving to London here. Although the guide focuses specifically on London, there is a lot of information within the guide that is relevant to most of the UK.
Remember to Sort Out the Practicalities
Another way to make yourself feel at home straight away is to take care of your everyday needs. Get a bank account, register with your GP, find out where you can pursue sporting activities or hobbies, and ensure health and other insurances are taken care of.
You can use the following checklist to help get you started. You'll be able to do many of these things prior to your move.
- Sort your visa (an absolute priority before you go)
- Arrange health insurance
- Set up a bank account and a mobile phone connection
- Find accommodation and set up relevant utilities
With these sorted, you'll have time to focus on other things that will help you to settle in.
Unpack as Fast as Possible
It's hard to feel at home when your house is a mess. Unpacking might seem overwhelming; as a result, many people put it off and can take months to settle in. The truth is that sorting out your home as fast as possible can help you feel like you live there and not just like a visitor. Unpack as soon as you can to help create a homely feeling.
Make sure you brighten up the place too. You don't need to open a can of paint or buy three rolls of wallpaper either. Simply adding a few plants, candles and wall decorations will help you to feel at home. Make a point of putting your existing belongings and decorative items, as well as your favorite photographs, in display in a prominent location.
Create a Local Bucket List
Whether you're moving to the UK as a student or for career reasons, you can definitely take some time to be a tourist. There are few things better than giving yourself the time you need to fall in love with a new location.
Create a "˜bucket list' of restaurants, events, bars and local attractions you want to take in. You can find plenty of tips from popular guides such as the Lonely Planet and TimeOut. Make a point of ticking off at least one new thing from your list each week. Soon you'll be familiar with your neighborhood and probably have found your new favorite "˜go-to' places.
Start a New Hobby, or Find Where You Can Enjoy an Old One
Social activity plays a huge part in helping you to feel at home. Be proactive and put yourself in situations where you will meet new people. If you are studying, you'll naturally meet lots of people at the university. If you're working you will meet people at the office, but look to establish a social life separate from your career as well.
Starting a new hobby is a good way to meet people - from taking dance lessons, to trying a new sport, or volunteering for a local charity, there are plenty of options to choose from. If you already have a favorite hobby from back home, try and find a way to continue with it.
Find and Join an Expat Community
A great way to feel at home is to find and interact with fellow expats, including those of the same nationality. As well as helping you feel at home you'll also be able to pick up some great tips from those who have experienced the same move as you.
The more curious you are and the more questions you ask about how life works in the UK, the quicker you'll feel at home. When things seem strange, ask about it. You'll quickly learn about local traditions and customs, (such as how the British love to complain about the weather or how the public transport never runs on time!) and be able to laugh along with everyone else.
Approach your new life in the UK as an adventure and embrace every moment! There really is no place like home, but home is wherever you make it...