What to Do on Your First Week Living in a New Country

Congratulations on your new home! As you unpack and get yourself settled, these are the things that should be at the top of your to-do list.

Xe Consumer

August 20, 2020 5 min read

Girl riding her bicycle by Mt. Fuji in Japan

Congratulations on your big move! Whether you’re still in the hectic planning stages or you’re sitting in your new home feeling overwhelmed by all the new sights and sounds surrounding you, the first week can feel like the toughest. But we promise—you’ll be settled in before you know it.

You’ve likely spent the past few months—or longer—planning everything out, and you’ve probably already taken care of a few things before leaving your old place for the last time. But once you’ve gotten to your new home and had a chance to unpack a little bit, there are a few things you’ll want to put toward the top of your to-do list to make the adjustment period a little easier.

Open your bank account

You knew we’d start with the money talk! Unless you plan on
taking care of all your expenses by withdrawing cash (hello, service fees!) or
exchanging your currency on the spot (enjoy those high rates!), a bank account
should be your first step. The sooner you open your bank account, the sooner you
can start building your savings in your new home currency.

Depending on where you’ve moved to, you might have had the option to get
an early start
on this task. If not, put it near the top of your to-do list. We already shared the process in detail in a previous blog post, but here’s what you’ll likely need on hand:

  • Identification (may need multiple forms)

  • Proof of residency

  • Visa or other documents proving your legal right
    to be in the country

  • Proof of education or employment

  • Minimum deposit (not always, but some banks may
    ask for this)

However, every country is different. Make sure to research your new country’s requirements before heading out to the bank.

Try out local transportation (and your commute)

Hopefully, you won’t need to jump straight into full-time work or school as soon as you set foot in your new country. But odds are, you’re going to be on the go before you know it, and you don’t want to wait until your first day to figure out how you’re going to get there.

Will you be driving? What route are you taking? How’s the traffic? What’s the parking situation?

Taking public transportation? Where will you get on and off? How will you get to your stop, and how long will that take? Will you have a long walk to school or your job after you get off? What hours does it run?

Are you walking? How long will that take? Will you be safe? What will you do if the weather’s bad?

You don’t have to know all the answers right away. But getting a feel for what your commute will be like on a typical day can go a long way in making you feel more comfortable making your way around.

But don’t just think about work and school. Think about how you’ll go travel to go grocery shopping, go out to eat, and for any other activity you see as a regular part of your new routine. Once you know your way around, you’ll be well on your way to feeling like a local.

Get a feel for your expenses and start working on your budget

Back to the money talk! Now that you’ve converted your currency and opened your new bank account, it’s time to see how you’re going to be spending. Check out a few local vendors that you think you’ll frequently or even occasionally visit—like grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants—and check out how much things will cost and how much you think you’ll be spending on the essentials (and the fun nonessentials). Add in your housing costs as well as other expenses, and you’ll be well on your way to setting up a new budget for your new home.

Explore the local culture

Will you be speaking in a new local language? If you aren’t already fluent, or even if you are proficient, the best way to learn how people speak the language is by going out and experiencing it for yourself. If you’re not confident in your abilities just yet, look into local language classes that’ll give you a chance to brush up on your skills.

But language isn’t the only thing you’ll want to look out for. Explore your new neighborhood and start getting to know people and the local customs. There could even be some local groups for expats or other people who are new in town and looking to meet people.

However, if you’re not quite comfortable doing that just yet, feel free to put this step off until the second or third week. After all, the most important thing is to…

Let yourself ease in

Don’t feel pressured to instantly assimilate. Even the smallest moves can take some time before you feel fully adjusted and comfortable in your new setting. It’s okay to miss your old home, your old friends, and the local spots you used to frequent. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and anxious by all the new people to meet and things to master, give yourself
permission to take time to yourself and relax a bit. Moving is stressful already; don’t add unnecessary stress on top of that.

We hope that your move goes well, and that you feel right at home in your new country before long. Need new currency for your new home? We’re here to help you with all of your money transfer and currency exchange needs. Sign in to your account or sign up to get started.

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