Moving is a big deal whether it is across town or across the country. Moving to another country–that is a different story. There is so much unknown, so many questions and an element of fear. That’s how I felt anyway.
When the opportunity for us to move to Europe came up I was excited. The excitement soon dwindled once reality hit. Would we be safe? How would we function where English isn’t the first language? How would we do simple things like go to the doctor, dentist, church, etc. Would we have to buy all new appliances? What about all the paperwork? Bank account, Expat paperwork, (term for those living abroad for a contracted amount of time), schooling, extracurricular activities, etc. Not to mention moving to a foreign land not knowing anyone and being extremely far from family.
We weighed the pro’s and con’s. We prayed. We talked a lot. We decided to go for it. We have been living in Amsterdam for over a year now and have been so grateful for this experience so far. We have grown in ways we never would have otherwise.
If you are thinking about making an overseas move for work here are my suggestions:
-Make sure your company is working with a relocation company where you are moving. We came to Amsterdam for two days to find a place to live, open up a bank account and find a school for our son. This would have been stressful and impossible without a relocation representative that was set up prior to our moving. Working with someone who knows the area, exactly what you are looking for and any local information is essential. The third party my husbands company used was Cartus.
-Downsize. Use this as an opportunity to get rid of stuff. Chances are if you are moving from the U.S. to another country your space will not be as big. Simplify your life.
-Google is your friend. Each country and city has a website with all the info you need. You are probably not the first to make this move so utilize the resources out there. I can’t tell you how many friend of a friend contacts came out when we told people we were moving. These people also helped tell us what to search online and other tips and tricks.
-Find a network. There are Facebook and other social media groups that will be extremely helpful for you. These are other parents in your same boat with your same questions. The one applicable for me was, “Amsterdam Mamas” on FB. We have also found a great network through our church. Make friends!
-Embrace the culture. We have tried do as the locals from the start and it has enhanced our experience like nothing else. The best advice someone gave me prior to moving– see how others are doing things and do it their way. Don’t try to make your way be their way. For me this meant going to the grocery store almost daily, trading our car for a bike and embrace all things Dutch.
-Travel. This was a huge factor in why we decided to move. Once you live within Europe it is relatively inexpensive to travel to other countries. We have tried to explore our new country as well as others. Setting a budget separately for travel is how we make it happen.
Have you lived abroad? What advice do you have?
(to see more about our Dutch life checkout taxistotulips.com)