Time for a new adventure
From our home in East London we’ve been responsible for relocating talent on a global basis; to arty Amsterdam, up-and-coming cultural hubs like Berlin and Budapest, to fast-paced, high pressure metropolises like Singapore and New York. Needless to say we’ve picked up a few tips along the way.
Stepping into the unknown
Upping sticks and moving to a new place can feel at once exciting and terrifying, but if you remember to balance the life admin with the pleasure of soaking up your new environment there’s no reason the experience can’t be a total joy.
You’ll have been through an interview process of course, and spoken at length with the hiring manager about the ins and outs of the job itself, but make sure to use that process to understand more about where you’re moving to. Working culture and professional expectations can differ so much even in two cities in the same country, and when you’re moving abroad there can be new bureaucracy to navigate too.
It’s super important not to be too rigid about comparing cities like for like; where salaries might be wildly higher in one location, general wellbeing and quality of life may not be so hot. Alternatively you may be taking a cut in salary but be gaining new skills in a disruptive brand or an emerging market, and taking this risk can be such a valuable step in your career development.
Organisation is key
Even if you’re not a natural list maker, approaching your move in the most methodical way possible is going to make your life a whole lot easier. Your to-do list will be your best friend, and if you’re that way inclined you might even think about going the full Trello Board.
Be ruthless when considering what to pack up and load into that moving van and what can stay behind. Do you really need to lug your spice collection and half-full bottles of body lotion to your new home? Unless you’re going somewhere super remote you’ll probably be able to buy new fenugreek seeds when you arrive.
Also, don’t forget to cancel any direct debits and subscriptions, gym memberships or vegetable boxes.
Manage your spending
If you’re relocating for a new job, or even transferring to a different office but staying in the same business then find out how much the company will contribute towards your relocation costs. Will they pay for interim housing while you find somewhere more permanent? Pay for your visa? The expense of moving your belongings? Some places will offer a lump sum for you to spend as you see fit, and you’re allowed to negotiate what this figure looks like, particularly if you’re relocating family into the bargain too.
Numbeo is a great resource to work out the cost of living in your new city, not just rent prices but things like childcare and groceries.
Certain places offer tax benefits for expats moving for work; The Netherlands has a 30% tax exemption for employees hired abroad, and in Denmark there is a 26% break for five years.
Then you need to create a realistic budget for yourself, and don’t forget to think about the fun stuff as well as the practical. Galleries and museums are basically all free in the UK but not in other countries. If you’re moving to New York your food spend will likely be higher. If you’re heading to Amsterdam have you thought about budgeting for a bike so you can get around like a local?
Getting down in the detail with your research is all part of the fun of a new experience. There may be cultural differences to what you’re used to so find out if there are any customs you need to be aware of. This also extends to working culture as well – New York has become a less attractive city for a professional relocation due to the 49 hour average working week. Cities like Stockholm and Amsterdam are well known for their more modern approach to a work/life balance.
Try to get a realistic idea from your employer of whether you’ll be working with people who speak the same language as you, and think about booking yourself in for some language classes – it’s a great way of meeting people who may also be new to the country/city, and having a second language for your CV is a great bonus.
Get excited by watching films and documentaries about your new stomping ground, and read up on the history of the area. If you’re moving to London for the first time then check out the map of Blue Plaques in the city. (Top tip: you can identify the cool neighbourhood in any new place by looking for the Aesop store!)
Don’t forget about the practical things you need to know: what’s the public transport system like and how will you commute? Do you need to buy a travel pass? Are you moving somewhere you might need to dress more modestly? What are the childcare provisions? Is it a legal requirement to carry identification with you?
If you’re moving with someone then keep your channels of communication as open as possible. Things could get stressful but if you’re supporting one another through it you’ll be absolutely fine.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Seriously – a friend who helps you move house is a friend for life. You just have to ask.
Keep in touch with the business employing you, or the recruiter you’ve been working with. If there are any hiccups with visas or complications on the way then they’re sure to have useful advice to put your mind at ease.
When you arrive send an email out to family and friends with your new address so they can shower you with housewarming cards, bouquets, and scented candles, and then also notify the post office so your mail gets redirected while you’re getting organised.
You may need to register yourself in some way if you’re moving to a new country – if you’ve been thorough with your research you’ll know about this already but there’s no harm in double checking.
When you’re unpacked and have made a new nest for yourself it’ll be time to start building out your network, professionally and socially. There are so many online groups for you to join or you might think about stepping out of your comfort zone as a way of making new pals and local contacts.
Don’t forget to celebrate! Get out there, enjoy yourself, look above eye level, take it all in and get inspired. It’s time for a new adventure.