Like me, you probably walk around your home town feeling completely safe. We know which areas to avoid and we’re completely at home with the feel and temperament of the streets. In contrast, some expats worry about their new home town or city being fraught with potential risk. Is it safe to leave the car parked? If so, where? Will you need extra security in your house or flat? Is it wise to walk home late at night?
Knowing about the risks – if there are any – helps build your confidence before taking the plunge. I thought I’d take a look at the practical steps you can take to familiarise yourself with what’s risky and what’s safe, so when you arrive in your new home you can relax and enjoy yourself.
Research the region
Ideally you’ll research things thoroughly before you go. Dig deep, reading everything you can find online. Holiday guides sometimes include specific advice about staying safe and secure. Buy city and regional guide books including ‘rough guides that reveal more about what happens off the beaten tourist trail.
Follow the local news
Identify the local newspapers and magazines that cover the region you’ll be living in and keep abreast with the news, or at least the headlines. Doing so will also help you learn the language.
Find a pen pal
The pen pal traditional goes back a long way and it is still alive and well online. There are plenty of sites offering pen pal services including www.penpalworld.com and www.interpals.net. Find someone who lives in the area you’re moving to and you might even end up making a good, close friend.
Ask advice from local people and fellow expats
Most of us genuinely enjoy helping others. Once you’ve made the move, ask your new neighbours for advice about the best ways to stay safe and find out whether there’s anywhere you should avoid. You can also see what old-hand expats in your new community have to say, for a valuable fellow countryman’s point of view.
Familiarise yourself with the basics of the law
The oddest and most unexpected things can land you in trouble. You can be arrested in Oklahoma for making faces at an ugly dog. In Samoa it is a crime to forget your wife’s birthday, and you can’t legally sell chewing gum in Singapore!
It’s a good idea to make yourself familiar with everyday legal considerations like the traffic laws, local bye-laws and parking regulations. It is also wise to learn what the road signs and markings mean.
Drop into your nearest police station
You can always ask the local police in case there is anything you should be aware of. They might have useful information about things like avoiding pickpockets or sticking to the beaten path in certain areas of town.
Enjoy our comprehensive expat country guides
For more information about making a success of your move abroad, why not download our free eBook, The New Expat? It covers medical considerations, family matters, accommodation issues, financial arrangements and plenty more to make your expat life easier.
Do you have any tips?
We would love to hear from you if you have any tips for familiarising yourself with the risks of your new home country? You can either leave a comment or connect with us on @now_health on Twitter or on the Now Health Facebook page.
Image source: calignosus